Vegan diets: protein and omega-3
The building blocks of protein are called
amino acids. Amino acids are used for growth and repair, for making hormones and for fighting
infection. Good sources of protein include chickpeas, beans and lentils, tofu, soya beans,
plant-based milks and nuts. Other sources of protein include seeds such as linseeds
and hemp seeds as well as buckwheat, quinoa and wild rice. It’s important that you eat
an adequate amount of these foods at each meal and have a variety of sources across
the day. It is also important to consume plenty of sources of Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), the
omega-3 from which EPA and DHA are made. Sources include chia seeds, linseeds, walnuts and
hemp seeds. You can also cook with rapeseed oil which is often labelled as vegetable oil.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are used for our nervous system, our brain and our eyes. Some populations such as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young infants may benefit from
a supplement of EPA and DHA. A vegan source of this is microalgae. However, more research
into this supplement is needed. Although it is not thought to be essential, you may benefit
from it. For more information on protein and omega-3 and 6s, you can head over to the nutrients
section of The Vegan Society’s website. For personalised guidance, talk to your health
professional or if you have any health concerns, please ask your doctor for a referral to a dietitian.