I get lots of questions about the transition to a plant-based diet & what to look out for with potential nutrient deficiencies! Based on my experience:
Omega-3s (DHA & EPA): Fish provides a good dose, so it’s important to substitute with foods like algae, kidney beans, astaxanthin, olive & avocado oil, flax, hemp & chia seeds & nuts! PRO TIP: keep a healthy omega 3:6 ratio & always load up on the 3s; we need both but too much omega-6 & not enough 3 can lead to inflammation.
Make sure to get enough B12 or to supplement (&/or a B-complex): if you’re deficient. Very few plant foods contain enough. Find it in nutritional yeast, some organic & non-GMO soy products (tempeh), kimchi, dulse/algae.
Iron: Iron from plant sources (non-heme) isn’t as easily absorbed as from animal sources (heme), but if you eat enough whole plant foods, it should do the trick! Find it in whole grains, dark leafy greens, lentils, peas, apricots, mulberries & other dried fruit & always eat iron with vitamin C goods because it helps absorption.
Calcium & vitamin D: Vital for preserving bone density & strength! When we cut dairy & fish, we risk a deficiency. Find it in dark leafy greens (collard, Swiss chard, spinach, kale), beets, mustard seed, mushrooms, oranges.
Zinc: Vital for skin, hormones, digestion, immunity & synthesis of DNA & cell metabolism & division. Find it in whole grains, legumes & beans (bonus if they’re sprouted so that zinc absorption isn’t hindered by phytic acid & enzyme inhibitors), mushrooms, lentils & peas. BTW, our bodies don’t store zinc so it’s important to keep replenishing it through nutrition!
Protein: It’s actually not hard to get enough protein; you just have to be open-minded & try new things! Find it in organic tofu/tempeh, black beans & chickpeas, nut butters, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, oats, lupini beans, mushrooms, cruciferous veggies, nuts, seeds, lentils & the list goes on!
Plant based diets are high in carbs, so be mindful & make sure you’re loading up on the right ones: complex over simple & refined, ALWAYS!