Here at Holland & Barrett, we offer our customers a wide range of ethically sourced, quality foods ensuring we meet all their dietary needs. From allergies and intolerances to healthier on-the-go snacks, all of our foods are vegetarian friendly, with many also being suitable for vegans.
If you’re following a vegan diet, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to get all the nutrients you need by eating a balanced diet. But, many vegans could be missing out on essential nutrients like iron, calcium and vitamin B12 which are typically sourced from animal products. From tempeh and tofu to teff and seitan, we give you the rundown on vegan food alternatives packed with essential nutrients needed for a healthy, balanced diet.
What are the benefits of following a plant-based diet?
According to the Vegan Society, preventing the exploitation of animals and helping the environment are reasons to avoid a diet based on animal products. But your health could be another good reason to go vegan. Based on a 12 year Oxford study carried out on 6,000 vegetarians and 5,000 non-vegetarians, those who ate a meat-free diet had lower rates of diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Not eating meat could also mean that people live longer: the study also reported lower death rates in non-meat-eaters compared to meat eaters.
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What are some of the best vegan alternatives?
A beneficial source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegans, chia seeds also contain 16.5g of protein and 34g of fibre in every 100g. These small black seeds are derived from Salvia Hispanica plant which is native to South America. A staple of the ancient Aztec and Mayan diet, they were valued for their ability to provide natural energy. As a matter of fact, “chia” means “strength” in the ancient Mayan language.
Due to their subtle taste, chia seeds can be used in a wide range of dishes from sweet to savoury. Simply sprinkle on to salad or add to smoothies. When soaked chia seeds form a gel, they can then be added to porridge, used as an egg replacement in baking or as a sauce thickener.
A fine grain with a delicate nutty flavour, teff mainly grows in Ethiopia and Eritrea. High in calcium and iron, it is also boasts 4g of protein in every 100g. Teff can be boiled or steamed and eaten whole but can also be ground into a gluten-free flour. Use teff flour in baking to make delicious biscuits or bread.
Formed from cooked, fermented soybeans, cooked tempeh boasts 20g of protein in every 100g. It is also low in fat and contains calcium and iron. With a chewy texture, it adds a distinctive taste to soups, stews and stir fries.
Made from condensed soy milk, tofu contains 8g of protein and just 70g calories in every 100g. It is also a good meat-free source of calcium, iron and could have other health benefits. Evidence has shown that eating 50g of soy protein each day could help improve blood fats and lower your risk of heart disease. Perfect for stir fries or curries, firm tofu can be grilled and used in salads. Softer varieties of tofu can be used in desserts and sauces.
Pronunced (say-tahn), seitan is a high protein meat alternative with a mild taste. Although it has a very similar texture to meat when cooked, it is made from wheat. For a protein boost in meat-free curries, stir fries or stews, simply pan fry or grill seitan before adding to your usual recipe for extra flavour.
With a cheesy flavour, nutritional yeast can be used to make “cheesy” sauces or add flavour to gravy, soups, salad or even breakfast cereals. Nutritional yeast flakes are made from a single-celled members of the fungi family which is grown on molasses. Unlike baking yeast which makes bread rise, nutritional yeast is deactivated. Low in fat and gluten-free, it is packed with nutrients like folic acid, selenium, zinc, and protein. It also contains vitamin B12 which our bodies need to maintain healthy blood and a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in foods from animal sources, which is why vegans may find nutritional yeast fortified with B12 beneficial to their diets.
Whether you’re following a meat-free diet permanently or would simply like to try meat-free alternatives, there are several nutritious options available to make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. In addition, vegan-friendly supplements also provide essential nutrients for optimal health.
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