Despite the growing selection of products in the supermarket, veganism is still synonymous with renunciation for many. The FIT FOR FUN overview of plant-based foods proves the opposite. Plus: the most critical questions about vegan nutrition.
For many, eating vegan may sound like a restriction. What else should you eat if Meat, dairy products, cheese, and eggs are dropped overnight? From this perspective, the meal plan quickly becomes monotonous and acts as a deterrent rather than a motivator.
However, if you look away from animal products and specifically purely vegetable products, an enormous variety of vegan foods quickly opens up, making the change in diet a journey of discovery.
What are vegan foods?
According to the definition of consumer protection, such foods are considered vegan if they do not come into contact with any products of animal origin or in the manufacturing and processing process with substances of animal origin.
Vegan staple food
Many foods are naturally vegan. It would help if you always had this as a primary food and basis for cooking. The table below gives you an overview.
Vegan substitute products for milk, Meat, and Co.
Barbecue without sausages, casserole without cheese and coffee without milk? Not really! All of these are also available as vegan alternatives. The selection of replacement products in the supermarket is more extensive than ever before and is growing daily.
Meat alternatives range from schnitzel and roast fillets to vegan duck. They are based either on tofu or tempeh – the fermented form of soybean – or seitan, obtained from the wheat protein gluten.
The milk shelf is also exploding on herbal drinks. Grains (soy, spelled, oats) or nuts (almonds, cashews, coconut) form the basis. This can then be used to make cream and yogurt alternatives.
There is no shortage of vegetable cheese choices – FIT FOR FUN has tested vegan cheese substitutes.
If you want to replace eggs, it depends on the respective use. Crushed bananas, applesauce, peanut butter, or swollen flax or chia seeds are suitable as binders for pastries and cakes (add three tablespoons of water per tablespoon of seeds and let them swell for 10 minutes).
Soy flour, cornstarch, or tapioca are also ideal for binding.
Scrambled eggs can be conjured up from crumbled tofu. Fry with the sulfuric salt Kala Namak – et voilà. And you can make egg whites from whipped chickpea water.
Honey also falls off a vegan’s menu. If you are looking for a replacement for the sweet sugar juice, you can test yourself with different syrup and thick juice variants.
The best vegetable protein sources
One of the most persistent prejudices against vegans: they don’t eat enough protein. There are enough protein sources, but the body can use them less efficiently than animal proteins, right?
“It is true that vegan foods contain less amino acids that contain less sulfur,” explains fitness and nutrition expert Dr. Frank-Holger Acker.
This is a complete and very good source of protein for vegans, which, according to new findings, can be consumed safely every day.”
Regardless of the diet, Dr. advises Field generally for the combination of three different protein suppliers – for example, tofu, kidney beans, and lentils.
What micronutrients do you need to look out for?
Plants can, therefore, provide you with the best possible carbohydrates, proteins, and fats: “As a nutrient supplier, they are neither better nor worse per se.
- Omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect and perform many essential tasks in the body.
- Many plant-based foods contain omega-3, but this is the fatty acid ALA, whereas our body needs EPA and DHA. The expert, therefore, advises vegans to take supplements from algae products.
- Iron: Endurance athletes and women, in particular, have an increased need for iron
- It is best to have your value determined and then consult with a doctor whether he thinks an iron supplement is necessary.
- Vitamin D: The sun vitamin is generally hardly contained in food. Since we typically get a little sun in Germany over the year, Dr. Field each a vitamin D3 test.
- Vitamin B12: This micronutrient is practically not contained in herbal products and should be supplemented in toothpaste or capsules.
Purchasing: How do I recognize vegan products?
Especially with processed products, it is not always apparent whether they are of pure vegetable origin. Specific seals provide a remedy. The best known are the V-label and the vegan flower.
The former is an internationally protected brand and is awarded in Germany by the Vegetarian Association.
Warning: the V is not a synonym for vegan. Additional information about vegetarian or vegan can be found under the logo.
You are 100% on the safe side with products with the vegan flower, which has been awarded by the Vegan Society England since 1990.
Warning: animal ingredients are hidden here
Chips are made from potatoes, bread, and pasta from cereals – so it’s purely vegetable. Not always! Food with the animal origin is often hidden in heavily processed products.
Potato chips are mostly added to animal-based flavors (e.g., milk powder). Pasta is not always made from durum wheat, but eggs are sometimes used – to read the list of ingredients on the packaging very carefully.
Caution should also be exercised with gelatin. As a clarifier for drinks and fruit gum ingredients, these products no longer fall under the vegetarian category.
Surprise: figs are not vegan. Why is that? To ripen into an edible fig, the flower must be pollinated by a wasp, which can no longer crawl out of the too narrow flower tube after the pollen has been released.
In this way, the animal is digested by the plant’s enzymes and taken in by us when eating figs.
In contrast, many products are surprisingly vegan. These include sweets such as Oreos and Manner waffles, the list of ingredients of which would surely have suggested milk or butter.
Many ready-made dough mixtures for baking croissants or puff pastries are also free of animal ingredients. This also applies to most cake baking mixes.
When in doubt: A look at the label provides certainty.
Are vegan foods automatically healthy?
Not necessarily. Industrial sugar and many chemical additives are vegan and make up a large part of the ingredients for processed plant foods.As always in life, it is important to keep the balance,” said Dr. Field.