• Renee Grandi

Vegan Diet Support Guide

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

The vegan diet is on the rise as more people around the globe become more conscious of their food, how the food industry works and that not all qualities of animal products are equal. Vegan diets require extended knowledge on how to support your body in a healthy way. Some people are genetically more capable of a healthy vegan diet, others, are not. Finding a healthy dietary intake is dependent on the person, their values and what makes them feel healthy within their mind, body and soul. Everyone is different and I don't advocate one particular diet.

If you are vegan, then this is what you need to know

A vegan diet is defined by “seeking an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man” (The Vegan Society, 2018).

Veganism is based upon only consuming plant-based foods, excluding; meat, poultry, dairy, honey, seafood and eggs. Modern veganism is relatively new, commencing in 1806 (The Vegan Society, 2018) and is increasing internationally due to a variety of motivations such as; animal ethics, health concerns, social injustices, climate effects, and historical aspects such as religion and culture. The earliest documentation of veganism originates in Europe dating back to the 6th century BC, where the religious group Orphic Mysteries excluded all animal products from their diets. Currently, India is the leading country in veganism. (Leitzmann, 2014)

Interestingly, around the same time, a worldwide paradigm shift commenced and many people including famous Greek philosophers Pythagoras and Plato believed humans were legally accountable for animals, their welfare and that plant-based diets taught us about humanitarianism and was highly beneficial for our body, mind and spirit. The shift continued to our modern era with Einstein stating, “Nothing will increase the chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet” (Leitzmann, 2014).

Vegan diets are generally fresh, whole foods including:

  • Fruit and vegetables

  • Breads, cereals and grains

  • Legumes (e.g. lentils, chickpeas, dried beans)

  • Soy foods (fermented provides maximum benefit) like tofu, tempeh and miso

  • Nuts and seeds

Vegan diets exclude:

  • Meat, poultry, fish and seafood

  • Dairy products

  • Eggs

  • Often honey, plus other animal-derived ingredients or food additives

(Dietitians Association of Australia, 2018)

Download Vegan Protein Sources PDF

The vegan diet is commonly high in phytochemicals, antioxidants and fibre, overall being incredibly beneficial if done correctly. However, the absence of animal based products can compromise health without careful planning.

Below are nutrients that are at risk with a vegan diet:

Download Vegan Protein Sources PDF

A cross-sectional systemic review and meta-analysis of a vegan vs omnivore diet have shown significant health benefits in favour of a vegan diet, shown to considerably reduce (Dinu, 2016):

Positive Influences of a Vegan Diet:

Reducing Body Mass Index (BMI)

Various research has now concluded that weight-loss and reduced BMI increases with a vegan diet predominantly due to low-fat, high carb diet and a healthier microbiome (Turner-McGrievy, 2017).

Reducing Total, LDL, VLDL, cholesterol & blood pressure & Ischaemic heart/cardiovascular disease

The vegan diet is high in phytonutrients; phytosterols, phenolics, carotenoids, flavonoids, indoles, saponins, and sulfides, fibre, vitamin C, E, magnesium and antioxidants, and low in cholesterol and saturated fats. This reduces endogenous cholesterol production, inhibits vascular oxidation and lower blood lipids decrease cardiovascular rigidity. (Wang, 2015)

Insulin resistance/blood glucose

Increased dietary fibre, increases short-chain fatty acids providing a healthy microbiome, reducing adiposity and glucose tolerance. This is crucially dependent upon the food sources (refined vs non-refined), research is still determining factors, however, decreased fat and animal protein seem to be promising influences optimising the micro/macro-vascular risks and improving glycaemic pathways. (McMacken, 2017)

Improve gut microbiota

Vegan diets show a significant distinction from omnivores; displaying reduced pathobionts and increased protective bacterial species, this is high prebiotic/fibre foods, increased nutrient density and low trans fats change the bacterial composition. (Glick-Bauer, 2014)

Systemic and GIT inflammation

Insulin resistance, leaky gut, dysbiosis, and western lifestyle is highly associated with inflammation. Vegan diets appear to reduce macrophage infiltration, increase T cell production by short-chain FA and are protected from inflammatory compounds found in animal products and a higher intake of trans fatty acids. (Sonnenburg, 2016)

This diet may be difficult to adhere to, it certainly has significant health benefits when done correctly, however, nutrient deficiency is prominent without supplementation or careful planning. It would be beneficial to have charts, a nutrient bible, on-going well-sourced education, becoming part of a vegan community, planning ahead with a vegan diet and food combining to ensure adequate nutrient intake.

Download Vegan Protein Sources PDF

Works Cited

Dietitians Association of Australia. (2018, March). Vegan diets: everything you need to know. Retrieved from Dietitians Association of Australia: https://daa.asn.au/smart-eating-for-you/smart-eating-fast-facts/healthy-eating/vegan-diets-facts-tips-and-considerations/

Dinu, M. A. (2016, Feb 06). Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Fox, N. (2018). VITAMIN B12 ANALOGS. Retrieved from B-12 Vitamin: http://www.b12-vitamin.com/analogs/

Glick-Bauer, M. a.-C. (2014, Oct 31). The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients.

Health, M. o. (2005, September 09). Nutrients- Vitamin B12. Retrieved from Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research: https://www.nrv.gov.au/sites/default/files/page_pdf/n35-vitaminb12_0.pdf

Kishor, R. S. (2015, Feb). Reduction of phytic acid and enhancement of bioavailable micronutrients in food grains. Journal of Food Science and Technology, 52(2), 676-684.

Lane, K. D. (2013, Feb 08). Bioavailability and Potential Uses of Vegetarian Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A Review of the Literature. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.

Leitzmann, C. (2014, June 4). Vegetarian nutrition: past, present, future1–3. American Society for Nutrition .

McMacken, M. a. (2017, May 14). A plant-based diet for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. journal of Geriatic Cardiology.

Ministry of Health. (2014, April 09). Calcium. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from Australian Government, National Health and Medical Research Council: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/calcium

Ministry of Health. (2014, April 09). Calcium. Retrieved from Nutrient Reference Values: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/calcium

Ministry of Health. (2014, 04 19). Iron. Retrieved from Nutrient Reference Values: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/iron

Ministry of Health. (2014, April 09). Protein. Retrieved from Nutrient Reference Values: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/protein

Ministry of Health. (2018, 01 31). Vitamin B12. Retrieved from Nutrient Reference Values: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/vitamin-b12

Nutrition Australia. (2014, October). Iron - Fact Sheet. Retrieved November 13, 2015, from The Australian Nutrition Foundation (Victoria): http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/iron

Oseiki, H. (2014). The Nutrient Bible - 9th Edition. Banyo, QLD, AUS: AG Publishing.

Rogerson, D. (2017, Sept 13). Vegan diets: practical advice for athletes and exercisers. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Roohani, N. H. (2013, Feb). Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences.


Sonnenburg, J. L. (2016, July 7). Diet–microbiota interactions as moderators of human metabolism. NATURE, 535.

The Vegan Society. (2018). History. Retrieved from The Vegan Society: https://www.vegansociety.com/about-us/history

Turner-McGrievy, G. M. (2017, May 14). A plant-based diet for overweight and obesity prevention and treatment. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology.

Wang, F. Z. (2015, Oct). Effects of Vegetarian Diets on Blood Lipids: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of the American Heart Association.

Whitney, E. R.-S. (2014). Understanding Nutrition, Australian and New Zealand, 2nd Edition. South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3205: CENGAGE Learning.

Whitney, E. R.-S. (n.d.). Understanding Nutrition, Australian and New Zealand, 2nd Edition. South Melbourne, VIC, Australia: CENGAGE Learning. .

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