Going Vegan? Here’s What You Need To Know

Becoming vegan involves restricting all animal-derived ingredients (think: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products) and instead prioritising wholegrains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, and alike.

The catch? Restricting food groups can mean nutrient deficiencies unfortunately come as a result. And when adhering to veganism, these typically include calcium, protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, and B12. Why? Animal products are the best source, nutritionally speaking!

So, is it possible to achieve a nutritionally balanced vegan diet? Absolutely! But being educated on how to safely practise veganism is a priority.

First, let’s talk about nutrient absorption. The bioavailability of certain nutrients in vegan food sources is lower than non-vegan sources. This means while you may think you’re consuming what your body needs (and deserves!), it still may not be enough. So, keep this in mind, but know there’s always a way! This brings us to the necessary supplementation and how it works.

Veganism has increased in popularity over the years. Whether it's for personal health or preference, ethical reasons, or its environmental impact, a vegan diet is a lifestyle choice turned mainstream.


Calcium is crucial for bone health and reduces the risk of conditions, like osteoporosis. When following a vegan diet, consuming enough calcium is particularly tricky given dairy products are the go-to source.

Depending on age and gender, calcium requirements vary from 1000-1300mg per day. This equates to 3-4 servings of calcium-fortified dairy alternatives. So, breaking it down: 1 serve of dairy alternative equates to 250ml calcium-fortified soy milk.

Here are some vegan calcium sources to incorporate!

  • Fortified soy, macadamia, oat, almond, or cashew milk
  • Calcium-set tofu
  • Soy yoghurt
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, bok choy
  • Some nuts, such as almonds and brazil nuts.


When it comes to fermented foods, the top-tier benefit is aiding the gut to feel in check. Science shows the nature of fermented foods, packed with plenty of probiotics, can help to:

  • Improve digestion
  • Produce Carbon Dioxide
  • Relieve IBS symptoms
  • Improve immune function
  • Protect against disease
  • Add good microbes to the gut
  • Break down Anti-Nutrients*

*Anti-nutrients tend to interfere with the digestion and absorption of nutrients your body craves!


Iron is necessary for your body’s growth and development. It’s also used for making hormones, so it’s particularly important for pre-menopausal women who have nearly triple the iron requirements of adult males (or quadruple if pregnant!).

When following a vegan diet, your iron requirements are even higher. Remember low bioavailability?! Iron from non-meat sources (known as non-haem iron) is not nearly as well absorbed as iron from meat (haem iron). To combat this, combine your vegan sources of iron (legumes, nuts, seeds, fortified breads and cereals, dried fruits) with vitamin C. Found in fruit and vegetables, this will help increase absorption. In comparison, pairing iron sources with calcium-rich foods have the opposite effect.

Vitamin B12

B12 helps maintain a healthy brain and healthy cells by producing red blood cells. As B12 is only found in animal products, vegans can instead get it through fortified foods.

It’s difficult to meet your B12 targets through food alone, so B12 supplementation can help (either oral supplements or B12 injections).


Zinc is a micronutrient with anti-inflammatory benefits – important for the growth and repair of body cells (including promotion of healthy skin cell turnover), wound healing, and functioning of the immune system. Found in a variety of foods, animal products again offer the best source, but including legumes, nuts and seeds, wholegrains, and tofu will help avoid deficiency.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain your skin structure and function and play a key role in brain cognition and inflammation. When your body is running low on essential fatty acids (EFAs), your skin can become dry, inflamed, and irritated – everything you want to avoid!

Unfortunately our bodies cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids, so we have to turn to our diet to meet our target. Taking out first place is oily fish, but some plant-based sources are not far behind, like flaxseeds/flaxseed meal, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts.

Keep in mind plant sources have low bioavailability, so achieving an adequate intake through plant sources alone is impossible. We recommend vegans opt for an omega-3 supplement (such as an algae supplement).

If you are interested or already following a vegan diet and are concerned about nutrient deficiencies, we are here to guide and help you on your health journey with the best and latest scientific evidence. We are always a text, email, or phone call away.


  1. Larpin, Christophe, et al. “Vegetarian and vegan diets and their impact on health.” Revue medicale suisse. Avali: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31617971/
  2. Dinu, Monica, et al. “Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: a systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies.” Critical reviews in food science and nutrition. Avali: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26853923/
  3. Melina, Vesanto, Winston Craig, and Susan Levin. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: vegetarian diets.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Avali: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27886704/