Embracing The Plant-Based Life

People choose to become vegans or vegetarians for many reasons. Some people do so for ethical reasons, while other individuals are looking to improve health. Whatever the impetus, a well-rounded plant-based diet can be extremely healthy and beneficial. That said, some vegetarians and vegans may be concerned about not getting enough omega-3s. Luckily, this fatty acid can be readily found in many non-animal products.


Veggie diets, defined

Vegans and vegetarians share a love of not eating meat, but beyond that initial shared goal, there are some significant differences in the diets. While vegetarians avoid meat, vegans take things a step further and avoid all animal products, including cheese, eggs, butter, and even honey. Another type of plant-based eating is known as pescetarianism and involves avoiding meat but eating fish and shellfish. Lacto-vegetarians do not eat meat, seafood, or eggs but will indulge in dairy, while ovo-vegetarians don’t eat meat, seafood, or dairy but will consume eggs.

The importance of omega-3s

Regardless of the exact plant-based diet followed, omega-3s are essential for all humans. These fatty acids provide the body with energy, curb inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, and slow plaque buildup in the blood vessels. There are 3 main types of omega-3s. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are marine omega-3s found in fish, while alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the form found in plants. People on a plant-based diet will want to look for foods high in ALA to ensure the essential nutrient is consumed.

Look to oils

Most people don’t immediately think of oil as a go-to food, but flaxseed oil, pumpkin seed oil, canola oil, walnut oil, and soybean oil can all be great sources of omega-3s. Many oils can easily be added to a dish while baking, tossed in a salad, or incorporated into a sauce.

How about some seeds?

Another excellent source of omega 3s are seeds like flax, chia, and hemp. Just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds contain approximately 2,600mg of ALA. Seeds can easily be added to many foods, including pasta, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, and smoothies.

Brussels for the win

In addition to high amounts of vitamin C, K, and fiber, Brussels sprouts are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Half a cup of the cruciferous vegetable contains about 44mg of ALA. With new Brussels sprouts recipes popping up everywhere, this trendy vegetable is easy to incorporate into a diet.

Get your omega3s

Going vegan or vegetarian doesn’t have to be difficult. Many plant-based foods provide exceptional health benefits and can still be consumed while avoiding meat. Look to oils, seeds, and Brussels sprouts as a starting point for incorporating more ALA into the diet. With the right dietary choices, deficiency in this essential fatty acid should not be a concern.


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