January was the month of veganism. It was Veganuary [Vee-gan-uary].

Sometimes I am asked if I am vegan or vegetarian. The answer is no. However, I typically choose to eat a predominantly plant-based diet. Why? I don’t consider meat, or animal products, to be a necessity in every meal.

A look on Instagram illustrates the controversy around the vegan way of life. Some view the herbivorous diet as a cure for all diseases of the heart while others view it as a deadly road to deficiency diseases.

A carefully planned vegan diet that CAN be a nutritionally complete diet. A vegan diet CAN be as nutritious as a non-vegan diet.

The key role of protein is for growth and repair of muscles, organs, skin and bones. The best sources of protein for vegans are beans, nuts, lentils, seeds and tofu. By adding at one of these options to each meal and snack throughout the day you should be able to satisfy your daily protein requirements without the need for supplements.

Drop Chef\’s Warm Barley Salad provides protein in the form of crunchy walnuts. Walnuts are also contain DHA. DHA is a fatty acid that is important for the brain.

Iron is a key component of red blood cells. It transports oxygen around the body. Vegan sources of iron are green leafy vegetables, whole grains and fortified breads and cereals. To promote iron absorbance a source of vitamin C should be consumed alongside iron-containing meals. Oranges, tomatoes and broccoli are examples of good food sources of vitamin C. Symptoms of low iron include tiredness, cold hands, cold feet, pale skin and dizziness. Tannins, a component found in tea, can reduce the absorption of iron – Best to wait at least an hour after eating before you have your cuppa!

The Indian Dahl from Drop Chef is one of my favourite vegan meals. The lentils and cashews are sources of protein while the spinach is a good source of iron.

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Amy Meegan, BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition, UCD