Supplements for Veganuary

Selection of veg in dirt on grey background

I’m 100 per cent in favour of plant-based diets but it’s indisputable that vegan diets – and some vegetarian ones – can lack essential nutrients including vitamin B12, omega-3 essential fatty acids, iodine, selenium, iron and also vitamin D (although most people, vegan or not, have sub-optimal levels during the winter).

The Vegan Society has a very useful ‘Nutrition Overview’ section here, with contributions from dietitians.

Cultures such as Indian Jains have consumed a completely vegetarian, non-animal diet for millennia, following their philosophy of non-violence. Jains also avoids root vegetables because of the potential for harming tiny creatures in the soil. It may seem very limited and boring but I had personal experience of this for some time with Jains’ friends and can vouch for its deliciousness and nutritional value. So it’s worth looking online for Jain blogs with recipes.

The Vegan Society offers its own VEG1 supplement. Alternatively, pharmacist Shabir Daya suggests taking BetterYou Vegan Health Daily Oral Spray, which has been formulated to deliver four essential nutrients (B12, D3, iodine and iron) straight into the blood stream, bypassing the gut where they might get lost. £14.95 for 25ml, dose four sprays daily.

Shabir also recommends taking an omega-3 supplement, but beware here as few plant sources provide an efficient means of converting their fatty acids into EPA and DHA, the key omega-3s. However echium seed oil gives vegans a source of Omega-3 that’s as efficient as fish oil. The product is called Echiomega by Igennus, £13.99 for 60 capsules, dose for adults and children over ten is 2-4 capsules daily.

Finally, a note for those who want to follow a gluten-free vegan diet. Many years ago, before I discovered I was sensitive to gluten, I became pretty ill following a vegan diet. Now there is much more knowledge about this problem and many more options, including recipes on BBC Good Food. We still eat a lot of veggie food so I’m off to try the lentil ragu with courgetti.

And the wonderful Jasmine Hemsley (jasminehemsley.com) has a whole section on Diving into Veganuary from last year. Winter Sunset Soup with ginger, cumin and rosemary, anyone?

Health Notes |
  • Deborah Middleton

    I have been vegan for nearly 7 years (vegetarian 33 years). I hadn’t heard of Jains and clicked on your link to a Jains blog. I’m confused as they are stating they are vegan but the recipes they are sharing have cheese (goats and mozzarella). This is a vegetarian recipe not vegan. The amount of animal cruelty in the dairy industry is phenomenal so I’m not sure why (if they avoid root vegetables for fear of harming insects) they are accepting of dairy? Veganism is more than just food, it’s a way of life. Hopefully anyone reading their blog will not be assuming that vegans eat dairy because we don’t. For people trying to learn about veganism it isn’t very helpful.

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Deborah, I completely accept that being vegan is a way of life though many vegans do not embrace a complete change and only the food rather than clothes and shoes! With particular reference to the recipes in the Jain blog, Jains by tradition do not limit dairy products since back in the day, cows were treated more humanely often on family farms unlike the modern day industrialised dairy farms – I do think though that many Jains are certainly now opting for a dairy-free diet since the blog (Pinki’s Palate) was written I believe in 2015.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir

  • Deborah Middleton

    Thanks for your reply Shabir. I think anyone looking into veganism needs clear direction. If you only follow a vegan style diet then you would say you eat only plant based food but you are not vegan. If you choose to eat only plant based food but do not use any animal products at all, such as wool, leather, honey and only buy cruelty free, vegan products when purchasing things such as cleaning products, make up and toiletries then you are vegan. Vegans make ethical and moral choices underpinned by a belief that animals are not ours to use and abuse in any way, whereas a plant based diet is often followed for health advantages. At this time of year when many people are choosing to try Veganuary, I think it’s helpful to explain the difference. Unfortunately the Jains link you provided was neither plant based or vegan. This could cause much confusion. For anyone looking for advice, The Vegan Society have a very helpful website and the internet is full of very tasty, easy vegan recipes. There are also a lot of support pages on social media.
    Kind regards,
    Deborah

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Deborah, I completely understand the differences between vegetarianism and vegans. Unfortunately, you will see that this editorial piece was not written by me and I shall indeed pass your comments to the author.
    Best wishes,
    Shabir