Vegan Nutrition Advice From the Mayo Clinic

Are you interested in the latest healthy vegetarian and vegan diet information out of the Mayo Clinic? 

The basic message is this – in order to obtain addequate nutrition, you need to be sure to eat a varied diet full of fresh ingredients and whole grains.  

Many foods in a tradional meat/milk/egg diet can be substituted easily.  If you are vegan, you can replace cow’s milk with a fortified soy, rice, or almond milk.  You can replace cheese with soy cheese, rice cheese, or nutritional yeast flakes.  Replace your eggs with tofu or when baking, use 1Tablespoon flax seed meal with 3 Tablespoons water.  (I use this in a vegan brownie recipe that is really good).

Here are some nutritional specifics:

  • Protein. Your body needs protein to maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Vegetarians who eat eggs or dairy products have convenient sources of protein. Other sources of protein include soy products, meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
  • Calcium. This mineral helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones. Low-fat dairy foods and dark green vegetables, such as spinach, turnip and collard greens, kale, and broccoli, are good sources of calcium. Tofu enriched with calcium and fortified soy milk and fruit juices are other options.
  • Vitamin B-12. Your body needs vitamin B-12 to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, including milk, eggs and cheese. Vegans can get vitamin B-12 from some enriched cereals, fortified soy products or by taking a supplement that contains this vitamin.
  • Iron. Like vitamin B-12, iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables, and dried fruit are good sources of iron. To help your body absorb nonanimal sources of iron, eat foods rich in vitamin C — such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli — at the same time you consume iron-containing foods.
  • Zinc. This mineral is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and in the formation of proteins. Good sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, nuts and wheat germ.
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