People are going vegan and ditching non-vegetarian foods as cutting back on meat consumption offers wide-ranging potential benefits, from losing weight to feeling more energetic, but a common challenge faced is whether plant-based foods provide you with sufficient protein and B vitamins like vitamin B12, B6 or not?

Well, the good news is, you can get nutrients in sufficient amounts, but you only need to be a little strategic.

A plant-based diet means eating whole plant foods such as legumes, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Know plant sources of protein

  • Soybean offers you all the required essential amino acids, along with fibre and other important nutrients. One cup of soybean provides you with approximately 36 g of protein. Try including soy-based products like tofu, soya-nuts, soya milk, soya nuggets, fermented soya products.
  • Milk, paneer, cheese and yoghurt provide you with excellent protein quality and nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium for better health.
  • Other legumes being beans, lentils, split beans offer a good amount of protein as well.
  • Among cereals, oats and quinoa (which is technically a seed) but used as a cereal, should be included as a part of your meal, replacing other sources of carbohydrate.

Muscle-building using plant protein powders?

If you are into endurance and strength training, it becomes important to include plant-based protein powders like soy protein, hemp protein, peas protein, as it becomes very difficult to meet their higher need for protein.

Similarly, if you have to build muscles, then make sure you are taking a sufficient amount of carbohydrate as well. Therefore, carb sources are potatoes, whole cereals and grains, bananas, and other tuber vegetables.

Deficiencies of following nutrients are common, so include supplements if levels are low or deficient:-

Vitamin B12

Mainly found in animal foods, which are the main dietary sources. Include yoghurt, mushrooms or vitamin B12 enriched foods.

Vitamin D

The most abundant source is the Sunlight, that gives Vitamin D3 in the active form. Animal sources provide it in D3 form. Also, plant sources are very limited, and they provide it in less amounts. Thus, including vitamin D3 supplements is required to meet up the desired levels.

Omega 3 fats 

The bioactive form of omega 3 is EPA and DHA, which we mainly get from fatty fish & pasteurised eggs. Plant-based omega 3 is ALA, which gets inverted to EPA and DHA for absorption. Example flax seeds, chia seeds & walnuts. Therefore, supplements may be required e.g. algae supplements (for vegans), and some might even choose to include fish oil supplements.


Plant-based foods offer iron in non-heme form, which is not fully assimilated compared to heme form present in animal foods.

Eg of vegetarian iron sources oyster mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, dates, etc.

The absorption can be increased by adding vitamin C rich foods to your diet. People who are anaemic may be suggested to have iron supplements.

To summarise, the plant-based diet offers you an abundant amount of nutrients, fibre which is best for a healthy heart and promotes overall wellbeing. However, it is important to make sure to include certain foods which are mainly good sources of B12, vitamin D, iron and omega 3 fats, else have supplements if deficient.

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