Is a plant-based diet healthy?
A plant-based diet can be as healthy or unhealthy as you choose to make it. Remember that sugar, wine, vegan chocolate and crisps are all made from plant foods!
However, if your diet is predominantly based on minimally processed wholefoods then you’ll certainly be getting a gut health-boosting fibre-rich diet packed with vitamins, minerals and beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants, which evidence shows is the best way to stay healthy and avoid conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A wholefood plant-based diet can provide most of the nutrition you need to thrive, providing it is well planned to ensure a good balance of important nutrients that often come from animal products such as vegan protein, omega 3s, iron, zinc, iodine and calcium.
However, if you eat an abundance of vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, soya products such as tofu and tempeh, fortified plant milks and yogurts, nuts, seeds, nut butters, tahini, wholegrains, beans and pulses you’ll naturally be getting most of the essentials.
For great tips on how to maximise the nutrition of every meal on a plant-based diet, Vegan Savvy by dietitian Azmina Govindji is a very handy guide to keep in your kitchen.
If you don’t eat any animal products at all, a vitamin B12 supplement is recommended (along with fortified foods, yeast extracts and nutritional yeast) and you may wish to include a vegan-friendly omega 3 supplement and also vitamin D, which is advisable for everyone, especially in the winter months.
Fortified products such as plant milks are a good way to top up your stores of a range of essential minerals such as iodine and calcium.