Substituting food – but not with the same nutrients? | Vegan

When i promote a vegan/plant based diet, i always mention the importance of substitution. I.e you shouldn’t just take away food, you also need to replace it with something.

Not only for nutrients, but also it can make it more sustainable when you feel like you aren’t “Missing out”. I.e when you can still eat burgers with friends, or you can still eat your favourite dishes – but vegan.

Of course, the important thing – which many don’t think about – when substituting, is that it is not just substitution of the food, but also the nutrients in the food you are replacing.

I.e it is great that there is vegan cheese which you can use instead of dairy cheese. However, vegan cheese is usually just made out of oil and some sort of flavour, or it is made from cashews and nutritional yeast. This doesn’t give you the same nutrients, i.e protein and calcium which dairy cheese gives you. So if you want to use vegan cheese instead of dairy cheese, that is great… you just have to make sure to get your calcium from other sources (such as sesame seeds, tahini, tofu, enriched oatmilk, dark leafy greens etc).

And the same goes with example making tofu fish/using jackfruit instead of fish. Granted, white fish is mostly just protein, but if you are replacing tofu/jackfruit with fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel or herring, then you are also missing out on D vitamin and Omega 3 (and other healthy fatty acids). So it is important to get those nutrients from other sources – such as walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds. And D vitamin from a supplement.

^^Important to note, that when ex. making veggie schnitzels or ex. using eggplant instead of meat, you will be cutting out a protein source in your meal – as well as other vitamin sources. (Once or twice it is fine… but switching meat for just vegetables i.e not legumes/grains is not a good idea).

And the same goes for making ex. potatoe based “cheese” sauce for pasta. Sure it is great and creamy and delicious, but i would also recommend you add some beans or tofu along with the pasta (or use bean pasta) if it is an everyday meal you eat. Of course, if you just eat it from time to time, it is no problem that it is more carb rich.Β  ^^

 

Also, when you are replacing dairy milk with a plantbased milk, it is good to choose a fortified plant based milk.This is because otherwise you could be missing out on important nutrients such as b12, calcium, d vitamin. (Note, the organic plant based milk aren’t allowed to be fortified, so then you are missing out on nutrients).

When your replace meat with vegan protein sources, it is also important to make sure you are getting iron from other sources. Ex, if you switch meat for seitan, or you switch a portion of meat for a small portion of beans or legumes, you won’t be getting the same amount of iron. So increasing your intake of iron rich plant based foods is a good idea when you cut out meat.

Typically, vegan fake meat based on soya do contain a good amount of nutrients and typically are the same nutritionally compared to meat (maybe higher on the fat, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing).

I do not mean to diss or bash a plant based diet, i just think it is important to bring awareness to. Especially as a nutrition student i think about these things… i.e when i eat vegan cheese i do it because i want the texture/flavour, but i also know that nutritionally it is lacking in vitamins/Minerals compared to dairy cheese.

Also you typically need to eat more food/portions are bigger when you are consuming lots of legumes/grains/whole foods instead of animal products. I.e a small portion of beans/lentils is not the same as a portion of meat – nutritionally.

Hopefully this post will help you, and maybe bring awareness to something you didn’t think about before. Also important to note that you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need on a plantbased diet, but you may just need to think/plan a little more than if you were to eat meat and dairy as well.

 

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