Compared to just 10 years ago, the market has shifted dramatically in favour of vegans – and animal rights, of course! There’s never been a better time to be a health-conscious vegan, so if you’re looking to embark on a sugar-free health journey, here’s everything you’ll need to succeed.
With red meat-eaters facing a 22% higher risk for heart disease, the animals aren’t the only ones to benefit when you take Babe off the menu. But when quitting sugar, it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure you’re getting all your nutrients – and it’s surprisingly easy to accomplish.
Take a look at the essentials you’ll want to prioritise if you’re vegan and considering a health overhaul.
This one is important for bone health and preventing osteoporosis. Though dairy hogs a lot of the credit for being the biggest calcium source, it’s certainly not the only source – or even the best source – of calcium out there. There are a multitude of plant-based foods rich in this mineral, most of which are affordable and widely accessible. Take a look at some of the options:
- Leafy greens like kale, bok choy, broccoli and spinach.
- Tofu – but check the label to see if it’s been set in calcium.
- Fortified plant milks like oat, soy or almond milk.
- Pistachios, almonds and almond butter.
- Legumes like lentils, mung beans and chickpeas.
Omega 3s are essential for brain health and reducing inflammation, along with boasting the following health benefits:
- Reducing blood pressure.
- Reducing arterial plaque.
- Reducing risk for stroke and heart attack.
- Supporting eye health.
- Supporting cardiovascular health.
According to researchers, people who aren’t getting enough of this nutrient are more likely to experience age-related cognitive decline, along with increasing their risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and high cholesterol. Saturated fats, sugars and alcohol consumption are all factors in these conditions, so keeping those to a limit while upping your omega 3s and other essential nutrients will play a massive role in keeping your brain sharp. One study found a 60% decrease in risk for Alzheimer’s disease when consuming omega 3s on a regular basis.
But you don’t have to load up on fish to get your fill of omegas, contrary to popular belief. There are a few exceptional plant-based sources on the market:
- Flaxseeds or flax oil.
- Hemp seeds or oil.
- Chia seeds.
- Algae oil.
These mostly contain ALA omegas – these are the precursors to DHA and EPA, which are found in higher concentrations in fish and algae. While our bodies can convert ALA into the latter forms, it’s usually at a low rate, with some studies showing less than 10% is converted. But it depends on the individual, so you may prefer to take a supplement as a precaution – simply pick out a vegan option at the chemist or supermarket. We also recommend getting your omegas from a wide range of foods rather than just sticking to one source.
Oleic acid is an omega 9 fatty acid which is also highly beneficial, with studies finding it may prevent insulin resistance and reduce the risk for heart disease. These fatty acids also keep us feeling fuller for longer, especially those with medium chain triglycerides, which have been found to decrease appetite and curb sugar cravings. Oleic acid is present in olive and sunflower oil.
B12 is vital for keeping your energy levels up – and when quitting sugar, you’ll need all the strength you can get.
It’s also responsible for the following:
- Helps prevent anaemia.
- May reduce the risk for birth defects.
- Supports bone strength.
- Reduces your risk for macular degeneration.
- May improve low mood.
Luckily, there are more than a few tasty options to get your fix of B12.
Nutritional yeast: Or as it’s more fondly known, nooch, is often fortified with B12, with just 2 teaspoons packing in over 3 times the daily recommended intake. It’s known for its cheesy, nutty taste that pairs well with pasta and soup dishes.
Fortified plant milks: From oat to almond milk, there are a plethora of plant milks lining the supermarket shelves, many of which boast high levels of B12 and other nutrients like calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Be sure to read the labels to ensure you’re getting an added-sugar free product.
Supplement: Taking a B12 pill is always a reliable option to ensure you’re meeting your needs. You can find these at the chemist or supermarket.
Cereals, plant milks and spreads – including vegemite – may also be fortified with vitamin B12.
These are just a few of the ways to ensure you have a nutritious, balanced diet as a sugar-free vegan, though it’s important to ensure you’re getting all your other vitamins and minerals – these are just the most common nutrients that vegans get tripped up on. But the solutions are plentiful and more than compatible with a healthful, low-sugar diet. It also helps to spread your nutrient consumption across a few different food sources as this improves your chances of meeting your daily needs.
Need a little extra help? With support and health professionals onside, you’ll be better prepared to quit sugar and make it stick. That’s why we’re hosting the 8-Week Program for everyone out there looking to take their health back into their own hands. Here’s what’s on offer:
- 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
- 90+ member-only recipes.
- Community forums to share your journey.
- Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team and our panel of experts.
- Dietary flexibility for vegetarians, paleo, dairy and gluten-free members. While we haven't designed a vegan program as of yet, you can easily make some ingredient swaps with our recipes.
If you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it – JOIN NOW!