Thinking about plant-based diet or becoming a vegan?

Check out these top 5 tips from our Dietitians to make sure that you stay on track.

1. Consider how many animal products you are having now and how often you have them.

It is best to make 1 or 2 small changes to start with before jumping into a full plant-based diet.

This is to ensure the switch feels manageable and you have time to think about how you may substitute certain nutrients.

For example, start having one or two meat-free meals a week, swap half the mince in a meal for lentils or simply reduce your portion of meat at meals. These are small but meaningful changes.

2. Any meal pattern can be unhealthy without correct planning, including plant based diets.

Some plant-based meat alternatives can be high in salt and fat. It is worth looking at the labels of new foods you buy to check if it is a good swap.

3. Replacing important nutrients that we get from meat is important to ensure your body is still getting the nutrients it needs to stay healthy.

The nutrients to be mindful of are protein, iron, zinc, calcium, omega 3 acids, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

4.Talk to your dietitian about label reading, good food substitutes and signs of nutrient deficiency.

5. Consider getting a comprehensive blood test 3-6 months after starting your plant-based diet.

Ask to have your iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin D checked.

Helpful foods to meet nutrition needs:

  • Calcium-fortified plant milks (soy, almond, rice, oat, etc.)
  • Legumes: chickpeas, lentils, beans
  • Nuts and seeds, especially almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, linseed and chia seeds
  • Tofu
  • Vitamin B12-fortified plant-based burgers/milks
  • Vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables (berries, citrus, capsicum, tomatoes, broccoli)
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Plentiful amounts of fruit and vegetables

Note from our Dietitian

A plant-based diet may be a gateway to a healthier life, but the benefits of a plant-based diet could depend on the foods you choose.

Eliminating meat may reduce saturated fat intake, but Milly warns saturated fats are also present in vegan-friendly options such as chips or certain pastries and cakes.

Some processed plant-based meat alternatives also contain high salt and fat content, she says.

“If you want to cut your meat intake, that’s great, but make sure you’re substituting it well and be mindful of all those other areas of your diet.”

A vegan diet still need to make good food choices. Get an expert advice from a dietitian to ensure your dietary needs are met.

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