When you choose to follow a diet that doesn’t include meat and dairy, many potential sources of nutrients become unavailable. Some nutrient deficiencies to keep an eye out for include iron, B12, calcium, vitamin D and protein. Luckily, we live in a world with fortified foods, additives and supplements.
The only supplements I find it personally necessary to take are B12 and iron. I also put nutritional yeast on just about everything because it’s tasty and chock-full of all of the vitamins and minerals your heart could desire. Dark green leafy vegetables and beans are two great vegan sources of iron, but being that I’m a college student, I’ll be honest in admitting that my kitchen goes unused for long periods of time.
Vitamin B12 is only present in meat and dairy products naturally, but most cereal and milk alternatives such as soy and almond can be fortified with synthetic B12. If you’re not a big milk or cereal person, a tablet once a day delivers more than your daily B12 needs. As an added bonus, foods fortified with B12 are likely to also be fortified with calcium.
If a relaxing day at the beach has been in the works for a while, go ahead and pack the car with towels and a cooler, because sunshine is guaranteed to deliver a nice dose of vitamin D. Also, odds are that the mimosa you’re drinking was made with orange juice fortified with vitamin D, so enjoy every sip.
Most vegans will consume more than enough protein without much effort. Vegan meat alternatives such as veggie burgers and veggie dogs are usually made with tofu, which is made from protein-rich soybeans. For healthy snacking, a handful of nuts or a tablespoon of natural nut-butter will deliver a considerable protein boost.
Monitoring your nutrient intake as a vegan doesn’t have to be painstaking work. As long as you follow a somewhat balanced diet, you’re probably in the clear. If in doubt, you can always as your doctor to run a blood test to determine if supplements are necessary.