The adoption of a vegan diet has surged in popularity over the last decade, with many choosing to raise their children on a vegan diet. In fact, in 2016, approximately 2.5 million people in Australia embraced a meat-free, plant-based lifestyle. (1)

Whilst a vegan diet is restrictive, it can be managed in a safe way. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states: “that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, … These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence… (2)

Other studies have reiterated this statement, adding that health professionals play a vital role for guiding people on how to adequately manage this diet. (3)

Eating a plant-based diet is becoming increasingly accessible, with plant-based options now widely available at restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores. However, transitioning to a plant-based diet can initially seem overwhelming.

What is a Plant-Based Diet?

The term “plant-based” encompasses various eating patterns that limit or exclude animal products. For some, being plant-based involves excluding animal products only from their diet, while others extend this to all aspects of their lifestyle, including skincare, health products, and clothing.

Dietitian specialised in plant based diet program

Common Plant-Based Diets

Vegan: Excludes all animal products (meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy).

Vegetarian: Excludes meat and meat products but includes dairy and eggs (lacto-ovo vegetarianism).

Flexitarian: A flexible diet that includes dairy and eggs but occasionally includes meat, seafood, and poultry.

Pescatarian: Includes eggs, dairy, and seafood but excludes meat and poultry.

These are just a few examples, and a plant-based diet can be as flexible as suits your preferences.

Health Benefits:

Diets rich in plant-based foods and low in animal products have been linked to a reduced risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Plant-based diets tend to be lower in saturated fats, salt, and sugar, promoting weight loss and reducing disease risk. Fruits, vegetables, and legumes, the cornerstone of plant-based diets, provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber, supporting overall health and wellbeing. (4, 5)

Ethical and Environmental Considerations:

Some individuals choose a plant-based diet to support animal welfare, while others are motivated by environmental concerns. The agriculture industry’s impact on the environment, including greenhouse gas emissions and resource consumption, has led many to reduce their consumption of animal products in favour of plant-based alternatives.

Tips for Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet:

1. Ensure Adequate Caloric Intake:

Vegan diets can be voluminous and high in fibre, so it’s essential to ensure you consume enough calories. Incorporating healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, and nuts/seeds can boost calorie intake. (6)

2. Ensure nutrients of increased risk for vegans are monitored

Due to the restriction of all animal-based products, certain nutrients need to be monitored to prevent deficiencies. These include:

  • Essential fatty acids (omega-3): There are a few types of Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, EPA, and DHA) DHA is most common in fish and seafood and is preferred by the body. It plays a vital role in brain and eye health and is important for memory, motor skills and attention. Plant based sources of DHA mainly come form of algae oil, otherwise ALA in form of flax, hemp and chia seeds, and walnuts can be converted into DHA (but this is limited. (6, 7)
  • Protein: Protein needs of vegan may be slightly higher than non-vegan Protein is important in childhood as it is the building block for developing, maintaining, and repairing muscle and tissues in the body. Sources of plant-based protein are Tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein and legumes paired with wholegrains. (Aim for more natural sources than mock meats) (6, 7)
  • Iron: Iron is an important throughout the life cycle. Being involved with red blood cell production, carrying oxygen around the body, brain development, energy levels and immune function. (6, 7)

Animal-based sources of iron (haem iron) are preferred by the body and easily absorbed. Plant-based sources of iron (non-haem iron) on the other hand, are not as easy for the body to absorb, therefore vegans need higher intakes of around 80% higher (5). Plant-based iron is better absorbed with vitamin C. Sources of plant-based iron are beans/legumes, tofu, fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, and nuts/seeds. (6, 7)

  • Zinc: Zinc plays a role in growth and development as well as immune function. Like iron, plant-based sources of zinc are harder for the body to absorb. Therefore, vegans need higher intakes of around 50% higher. A few plant-based sources include wholegrains, nuts, and seeds. (7)
  • Vitamin B12: B12 plays an important role. It is important for nerve and brain functioning. Some plant-based products that are fortified; however, these are often poorly absorbed. Therefore, when on a plant-based diet, B12 cannot be consumed by food alone. Supplementation is essential. (6, 7)
  • Calcium: Calcium plays an important role in bone growth and development and assists with muscle and nerve function. Due to the exclusion of dairy products, plant- based calcium-rich sources are needed to prevent deficiencies causing problems later in life. Some plant-based sources include fortified plant milks, calcium set tofu and Asian greens. (6, 7)
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D predominantly comes from the sun. It is an important nutrient to consider as it helps with the absorption of calcium and therefore is important for bone development. (6, 7)

3. Manage Fibre Intake:

While fibre is beneficial, excessive intake can lead to lower energy intake and digestive issues. Monitor fibre intake to ensure you meets your energy needs. (6).

4. Consider Supplements:

While a food-first approach is recommended, supplements like B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and omega-3 may be necessary. (6, 7)

5. Consult a Dietitian:

An Accredited Practicing dietitian can provide personalised guidance on nutrition, supplements, and meal planning for your specific needs. Did you know we have a plant based program?

6 ways to get started

  1. Create a Colourful Plate: Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes to maximize nutrient intake and support overall health.
  2. Swap Your Protein: Experiment with plant-based protein sources such as beans, tofu, lentils, and whole grains to replace meat and dairy products.
  3. Try Something New: Challenge yourself to explore new plant-based ingredients and products to diversify your diet and culinary skills.
  4. Find Plant-Based Eateries: Discover plant-based cafes and restaurants in your area for dining out options that align with your dietary preferences.
  5. Do It with a Friend: Share the plant-based journey with a friend to stay motivated and exchange recipe ideas and dining experiences.
  6. Seek Professional Guidance: Consult with a dietitian for expert advice on transitioning to a plant-based diet and ensuring balanced nutrition.

By incorporating these strategies, you can thrive on a plant-based diet and enjoy its numerous health, ethical, and environmental benefits.

Join our latest 30-day PLANT BASED PROGRAM

Opting for our 30-day plant-based diet program instead of a one-time consultation offers several advantages. A more extended program provides ongoing support, guidance, and structured resources throughout the entire month, helping individuals gradually adapt to a plant-based lifestyle.

Plant Based Diet Program

With this program, we help you manage your diet and achieve a healthy and sustainable weight. We will provide you with all the tools and resources to motivate you and increase your confidence.

Heart Diet Food
This exclusive diet program focuses on applying core changes to your lifestyle, so you achieve a healthy and sustainable weight. 

Are you having difficulty managing your weight?

We provide an all-inclusive solution that will improve your health and prevent dangerous diseases. Our programs are individualized to meet the requirements of each client, and we have the best dietitians in the area helping you succeed!

What does the program include?

This diet program will guide you step by step to achieve the best possible result. Follow the link below to learn more about the benefits, offerings, and anticipated results.

Health Issues

This diet program can promote your health and reduce risks associated with over weight or under weight conditions.

References

  1. Roy Morgan. The Slow But Steady Rise of Vegetarianism in Australia. 2016. Available online: https://www.roymorgan.com/findings/the-slow-but-steady-rise-of-vegetarianism-in-australia
  2. Melina V, Craig W, Levin S. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: vegetarian diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016 Dec 1;116(12):1970-80. https://www.jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(16)31192-3/fulltext
  3. del Canto AM, Salinas CM. Is vegan feeding advisable in first childhood? 2019. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340398725_Is_vegan_feeding_advisable_in_first_childhood
  4. Kahleová, H., Levin, S., & Barnard, N. (2017). Cardio-Metabolic Benefits of Plant-Based Diets. Nutrients, 9. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9080848.
  5. Qian, F., Liu, G., Hu, F., Bhupathiraju, S., & Sun, Q. (2019). Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.. JAMA internal medicine. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2195.
  6. Rogerson D. Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2017 Dec;14:1-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598028/
  7. National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia). Nutrient reference values for Australia and New Zealand: Nutrients: The Nutrients Reviewed. National Health and Medical Research Council; 2017. https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients