Ive recently gotten some questions about a vegan diet and whether it is healthy or not also about getting the right vitamins and minerals on a vegan diet.
So first off, i still stand by my opinion that a vegan diet in recovery from an eating disorder is not recommended. And this is because 1) You need alot of food (most often) in recovery and unless you are eating alot of nuts, oils and avocado it can be hard to reach the right calorie amount. 2) Your body is in a much higher need of vitamins and minerals as well as protein to repair the body and unless you are food combining right and eating alot of food as well as varied it can be hard to reach the right amount (however with a dietitian who has knowledge about a vegan diet its not impossible, but not something i would recommend you do on your own), 3) if you have an eating disorder a vegan diet can be restrictive… it doesnt have to be restrictive but if you have fear foods or dont want to eat bread, pasta, potatoes, oil, avocado, nuts etc you might end up just eating vegetables and fruit and that ISNT enough in recovery or for anymore in all honesty. 4) I wouldnt put labels on yourself… instead just be open to everything, maybe you were vegan before you became sick so you could never eat meat again but maybe you crave some dairy or eggs…. then eat it, that might be just what your body needs. Dont have any labels or restrictions on yourself in recovery, maybe in the future when your body is physically and mentally healthy then you might be able to live a 100% vegan lifestyle, but in recovery that might not be the case. Remember that eating a few plant based meals each day still makes a difference!
How to get the right vitamins and minerals on a vegan diet? I have more information about this below as well as will link to alot of my old posts about veganism that will help hopefully!
Its not hard to get vitamins and minerals on a vegan diet if you eat varied and that doesnt mean you have to eat different vegetables everyday or every meal, but like i wrote in THIS post, i vary which foods i buy each week. .Example one week i buy broccoli and potatoes and green lentils and the next week i buy red lentils, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts and that gives me a variety over time.
Variety and abundance is key to getting the right vitamins and minerals. HOWEVER it is known that the iron amount absorbed from plant based food isnt as good as from meat or fish, however its not impossible to get the right iron amount as long as you dont have another problem with the absorption of iron (which can be a reason why you might not be able to go vegan). Information below about which food sources give you iron on a vegan diet.
It’s also important to take b12 supplement and even an omega 3 supplement with DHA and EPA as that is hard to get on a vegan diet. You can read more HERE
And then its of course calcium and vitamin D which you might need a supplement of depends on how you and what you eat. Both calcium and Vitamin D sort of go together and without the right amount of vitamin D calcium wont be absorbed as well, so you may be eating alot of calcium through enriched products but if you arent getting enough Vitamin D it wont be stored/absorbed as well!!
So, you can ask yourself…. is a vegan diet actually healthy when you need supplements, b12 atleast… the others you might/might not need. I often get asked this question and all i can say is that i dont eat a vegan diet because its “Healthy”, but because i believe its ethically right. You can eat just oreos and vegan cheese and vegan chocolate and be a vegan… but that isnt healthy. Jjust like you can eat just bananas or just raw food but that doesnt make it healthy either…. (In fact i often wonder how healthy raw vegans actually are or fruitarians as they must be missing alot of vitamins or minerals or even enough protein?).
For an adult who is physically active, healthy and has no underlying illnesses or no problems with digestion or food absorption then a vegan diet which is balanced and varied it can be healthy…. but for someone with an underlying illness or has problem with vitamin absorption then it can be a problem.
Post: Do you need supplements as a vegan?
And what is vitamin malabsorption? It can be due to many reasons but often due to an illness which effects your intestines such as celiak disease, Chrons, pancreatitis, inflammation in the intestines, injury or illness in the gallbladder, liver or pancreas. But even just having an eating disorder where the intestines are very much affected as well the digestion can affect vitamin absorption.
Because of having CF the absorption of fat and essentially fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins is decreased as well as calcium absorption is low. So it is very important for me to take supplements of those as well as enzymes to help my body break down and absorb fat. For me it works to be a vegan and have CF however if a person who has CF and is much sicker with the illness it might be hard for them to have a vegan diet because of the low absorption rate of those vitamins, minerals and fat. However in the future i might work with CF patients as well who are interested in eating a vegan diet and still being healthy!
Of course i don’t want to deter you from eating plant based however knowledge is so important or going to a professional with knowledge about a vegan diet and how to help you/give you advice (i.e me in the future hahahah!). I’m not saying i have the best diet, i dont actually think about what i eat or about my vitamins or mineral levels, but in 2 weeks time i’m getting my blood tests done (and 1 year as a vegan) as well as going to a dietitian and we’ll see what my blood tests say and whether i might be lacking something or not. I do take a multivitamin everyday as well as extra vitamin D as well as a vegan Omega 3 tablet, and then i need more of other vitamins and minerals because of my CF.
I would suggest, eat an abundance and eat varied. Try different vegetables, eating beans and lentils and if you like/can eating soy products is important on a vegan diet as well as fortified products to help get other vitamins and minerals.
Below is information and more posts which might help you, but feel free to comment below if you have more questions. HOWEVER i dont do meal plans, i am not fully qualified to do that yet, but in the future i will 🙂
Vegan staple foods to have at home
A guide to going vegan by acti-veg
Food combining as a vegan
Why you should eat varied and balanced over the week.
Did veganism make me more healthy? My opinion on different vegan diets
Is it necessary to take a vitamin supplement?
Talking about my nutrition and intake on a vegan diet
Thinking about going vegan & 17 food cooking hacks
Not allowed to be vegan while living at home
Vegan on a college budget and how to save money