Getting Complete Nutrition
Getting complete nutrition is simple. Start by building your meals from fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, and see the information on vitamin B12 below.
Beans, vegetables, and grains provide plenty of protein, even without intentionally combining them in any particular way. Some that are especially protein-rich include beans, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, and soy products.
You’ll find plenty of iron in green leafy vegetables and in beans and other legumes.
Calcium is found in green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, or collards, as well as in beans (see more healthful sources of calcium) . Because diets rich in animal products cause the body to lose calcium, a person on a vegan diet may need less calcium to stay in calcium balance.
Any common vegan-verified multiple vitamin will provide plenty of vitamin B12. You’ll also find it in vegan-verified fortified cereals* and in fortified soymilk and other products.
Click here to learn about the vegan food groups.
Article copyright: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 2014. Reprinted by permission.
The following statements* have been made by both public and private sector organizations (alphabetical order by organization name).
“A vegan eating pattern is based on grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils), seeds and nuts. It excludes meat, fish, poultry, dairy and eggs or products containing these foods and any other animal products.
A vegan eating pattern has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems. This eating pattern can take some extra planning. Vegans must make sure that enough nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins D and B12 and omega-3 fats are included. A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, babies, children, teens and seniors. A variety of plant foods eaten during the day can provide enough protein to promote and maintain good health.” – Dietitians of Canada
“With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.” – NHS (National Health Service UK)“
Not only are animal foods not necessary for optimal human health, many studies show animal products are detrimental to human health. Vegans get their nutrition exclusively from plants (and other nonanimal sources), and they do not miss out on flavor, texture, or variety. To the contrary, many vegans comment on how much more flavor, texture, and variety they enjoy after going vegan.
* It has come to our attention that one of the cereals we had previously listed (Kellogg’s® Corn Flakes®) is fortified with an animal-derived nutrient in some countries including the United States. We removed the reference to all of the cereals that were listed immediately, as a precaution as we verified the information, as we would never knowingly recommend nonvegan food or products.