Nutrition Basics

Foods contain energy and nutrients to help the body grow, maintain and repair itself. They also contain water, without which life would not exist, and many other components to help the body function properly. Nutrients can be divided into two main groups known as Macronutrients and Micronutrients.


Macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The body requires these nutrients in relatively large amounts to grow, develop and thrive.

• Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. It is recommended that people consume 45 to 65% of their daily calories through carbs, but with vegans that number is often closer to 75%.  Foods rich in complex carbohydrates include: oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, barley, rye, white potoes with skin, wheat bread, wheat pasta, beans, lentils, quinoa, cous cous, pumpkin, butternut squash, fruits, vegetables.

• Proteins are required by the body to build, repair and maintain tissues. The recommended intake is 10-35% of daily calories. Studies show an optimal protein amount is 0.80 grams for each kilogram of body weight, per day. For example, a person weighing 64kg would need to get 51g of protein per day. The following are good sources of protein: seitan, tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, lentils, chickpeas, spelt, teff, hempseed, green peas, spirulina, amaranth, quinoa, oatmeal, wild rice, chia seeds, nuts, nut butters, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes

• Fat is an essential part of every cell in the body. It is necessary for many of the body’s metabolic functions and helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The recommended intake is 20-35% of daily calories.  Vegans can get healthy fats from nuts, nut butters, avocados, tofu, olives and oils.


Micronutrients are minerals and vitamins that are needed in small quantities to ensure healthy growth, well-being and metabolism.


Recommended Daily Allowance: 700mg

Source: Broccoli, tofu, kale, blackstrap molasses, chickpeas, beans of many types, flax seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, dried figs, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables.


Recommended Daily Allowance: 8.7mg a day for women over 50 and all men, 14.8mg a day for women under 50

Source: green leafy vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, blackstrap molasses, dried fruits, prune juice, spinach, watermelon, whole grains, cereals, spirulina


Recommended Daily Allowance: 350mg

Source: spinach, beans, legumes, brown rice, almonds, nuts, broccoli, oatmeal, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, peanuts, bananas, whole grains


Recommended Daily Allowance: 700mg

Source: peas, lentils, brown rice, peanuts, pinto beans, cereals, nuts, dried beans, almonds, yeast, vegetables, avocados and spinach


Recommended Daily Allowance: 4700mg

Source: sweet potatoes, winter squash, avocados, raw cauliflower, raisins, bananas, dried fruits, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, kiwi, honeydew melon, dried apricots, cantaloupe, whole grain, broccoli, legumes


Recommended Daily Allowance: 8mg

Source: legumes, peas, lentils, soy, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, nuts, sunflower seeds, yeast, wheatgerm, collard greens, spinach, garbanzo beans, corn


Recommended Daily Allowance: 200mg

Source: crimini and shiitake mushrooms, brazil nuts, tofu, barley, other whole grains, sesame seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, mustard seeds, asparagus


Recommended Daily Allowance: 1.8 to 2.3mg

Source: teff, rye, brown rice, hazlenuts, adzuki beans, amaranth, chickpeas, white beans, macadamia nuts, black beans, buckwheat, oats


Recommended Daily Allowance: 4mcg

Source: lentils, dried peas, lima beans, kidney beans, soy beans, black beans, pinto beans, oats, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, cucumber, celery, barley

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

Recommended Daily Allowance: 5mg

Source: shiitake and crimini mushrooms, cauliflower, sweet potato, broccoli, avocado, lentils, dried peas

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Recommended Daily Allowance: 30 to 100mcg

Source: almonds, cauliflower, mushrooms, sweet potato, spinach, molasses, legumes


Recommended Daily Allowance: 900mcg

Source: beans, nuts, wholegrains, potatoes, whole grains, dark leafy greens, cocoa, dried fruits, yeast, black pepper


Recommended Daily Allowance: 400mcg

Source: soyabeans, okra, spinach, broccoli, artichoke, turnip greens, asparagus, avocado, pasta, lentils, roman beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas, black eyed peas, pigeon peas


Recommended Daily Allowance: 150mcg

Source: seaweed, dried kelp, lima beans, corn, prunes, green peas, bananas

Vitamin A

Recommended Daily Allowance: 800mcg

Source: carrots, sweet potato, kale, spinach, apricots, broccoli, butternut squash, cantaloupe

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)

Recommended Daily Allowance: 1.4mg

Source: sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, wheat bread, green peas, acorn squash, asparagus, dry roasted soy beans, navy beans

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Recommended Daily Allowance: 1.73mg

Source: mushrooms, spinach, almonds, sundried tomatoes

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Recommended Daily Allowance: 19.8mg

Source: peanuts, mushrooms, green peas, sunflower seeds, avocado

Vitamin B6

Recommended Daily Allowance: 1.3mg

Source: pistachio nuts, pinto beans, avocado, blackstrap molasses, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds

Vitamin C

Recommended Daily Allowance: 60mg

Source: oranges, red peppers, kale, brussel sprouts, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit, guava, kiwi, green peppers, cherries

Vitamin D

Recommended Daily Allowance: 600IU/day

Source: Sunlight, mushrooms, tofu, fortified foods

Vitamin E

Recommended Daily Allowance: 27mg

Source: almonds, spinach, sweet potato, avocado, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, palm oil, butternut squash, olive oil

Vitamin K

Recommended Daily Allowance: 79mcg

Source: kale, natto (fermented soy), green leafy vegetables, spring onions, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, prunes, cucumber, dried basil

Vitamin B12

Recommended Daily Allowance: 2.4mcg

Source: fortified foods, nutritional yeasts, supplements