Power Sources

The Physicians Committee
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Power Sources

Protein

To consume a diet that contains enough, but not too much, protein, simply replace animal products with grains, vegetables, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), and fruits. As long as one is eating a variety of plant foods in sufficient quantity to maintain one’s weight, the body gets plenty of protein.
Learn more: The Protein Myth


Tofu, lentils, red beans, tempeh

Calcium

The most healthful calcium sources are green leafy vegetables and legumes, or "greens and beans" for short. If you are looking for a very concentrated calcium source, calcium-fortified orange or apple juices contain 300 milligrams or more of calcium per cup in a highly absorbable form. Many people prefer calcium supplements, which are now widely available. Learn more: Calcium and Strong Bones: Protecting Your Bones

Brussles sprouts, broccoli, kidney beans, kale

Iron

Iron is abundant in plant-based diets. Beans, dark green vegetables, dried fruits, blackstrap molasses, nuts and seeds, and whole grain or fortified breads and cereals all contain plenty of iron.

 

Iron rich foods: oatmeal, dried apricots, beets, chickpeas

Vitamin D

The natural source of vitamin D is sunlight. In colder climates during the winter months the sun may not be able to provide adequate vitamin D. During this time the diet must be able to provide vitamin D. Fortified cereals, grains, bread, orange juice, and soy- or rice milk are healthful foods that provide vitamin D. All common multiple vitamins also provide vitamin D.

Vitamin D sources: sunshine, fortified cereal, whole wheat bread, fortified orange juice

B12

B12 needs can easily be met by consuming a variety of vegan foods. Fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soymilk, and fortified meat analogues contain a reliable source of the vitamin.
Learn more: Vitamin B12: A Simple Solution

B12 foods: fortified cereal, multi-vitamins, soymilk

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Whether you are interested in promoting cardiovascular health, ensuring the proper growth and development of your child, or relieving pain, a vegetarian diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help you achieve adequate intake of the essential fatty acids.
Learn more: Essential Fatty Acids

Omega3 foods: flax seed, leafy green vegetables

 

What About Nuts and Seeds?

Nuts and SeedsA low-fat diet is not a no-fat diet. There are traces of natural oils in vegetables, beans, and fruits, and these fats are important for health. Some people add additional sources of healthful omega-3 (“good”) fats, such as walnuts, flaxseeds or flax oil, or soy products. And some researchers have found health benefits to having a small serving of nuts each day, despite the fact that nuts are very fatty. The idea is that nuts are heart-healthy and may even prevent arrhythmias—disorders of the heartbeat.

PCRM’s advice is to be cautious with these foods. They can easily impart enough fat to bring your weight loss to a halt. Rather than using nuts and seeds as snack foods (where it is so easy to go overboard), use them as condiments or in sauces, limiting them to about an ounce or so (about one modest handful) each day.