4 Tips for Older Adults Starting a Vegan Diet
1. Don’t leave out the protein and calcium.
A plant-based diet does not simply mean cutting out blocks of the food pyramid. You still need nutrients like protein and calcium to keep your body strong and healthy. Remember that plant proteins have less anabolic content than meat, meaning you’ll want to select your foods carefully.
Foods like beans, chickpeas, and lentils are full of protein, and almost every major green veggie has plenty of calcium for your diet.
2. Mind your vitamins (D and B12).
Vegans and vegetarians sometimes have trouble getting enough vitamin B12 because it cannot be found in plants. A B12 deficiency can result in serious lack of energy, so if you’re considering a plant-based diet, you should stock up on B12-rich foods like fortified grains and soy products. Make sure to check with your doctor to see what amount is right for you!
3. Eat iron-rich foods.
Iron is one of the most important nutrients we consume because it is a major component in creating hemoglobin, the protein that allows your red blood cells to carry oxygen! Plant-based proteins tend to have non-heme iron, which our bodies absorb much slower than heme iron from meat. Most plant based diets incorporate iron from tofu, lentils, fortified grains, and dried fruits as well as protein such as quinoa.
4. Create a plan with your doctor.
For older adults considering a plant-based diet, it is extremely important to do so with a plan. Your body has spent years absorbing meat-based proteins, and it may not be able to handle drastic changes later in life without health consequences. If you are considering a plant-based diet, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional to determine the safety and efficacy of such a change.