Top nutrition tips for a plant-based diet


With the launch of our Great Big Food Swap, and with so many more people moving to a plant-based diet, we thought it was time for some nutritional advice to keep us all in optimum shape! We got back in touch with local nutritional therapist, Natasha Draycott, for her top ten plant-based nutrition tips. So if you’re wondering whether cutting back on dairy might affect your calcium intake, or puzzling over the best plant-based sources of protein, read on…

Top nutrition tips for a plant-based diet

By Natasha Draycott

1. Eat wholefoods

Always focus on whole foods.  For example, use lentils and mushrooms to make a ‘mince’ for shepherd’s pie, rather than a fake meat mince. If we focus on a whole food plant-based diet rich in a diversity of plants, beans, legumes (peas, lentils), fruits and grains and supplements where needed, we will hit all our recommended daily allowance of nutritional requirements. 

2. Protein

Aim for a serving of protein with every meal. For example, beans, legumes (peas, lentils, chickpeas), tofu, tempeh, soy milk. Meat alternatives are not “bad” for us, but have them in moderation – they can contribute to your overall protein intake for the day, however try to focus on tempeh and tofu first. Grains are also a good source of protein – quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids.

Nuts and seeds are packed with proteins too. You could also include a whole-food protein powder in your morning porridge or smoothie, or just sprinkle a good handful of seeds and nuts onto your breakfast bowl.

3. Iron from plants

Think dark green leafy vegetables. Pair vitamin C with iron-rich foods increases absorption. Squeeze lemon juice on your green veg!

4. Omega3

Omega3 can be obtained from some plants (olive oil, nuts, seeds) however the most effective forms of this essential fat come from fish or algae. So take an algae supplement!

5. Calcium

Calcium is abundant in plant foods.

Eat a variety of bok choy, kale, mustard greens, watercress, broccoli, chickpeas, almonds, beans, lentils, seeds. Check your vitamin D levels and supplement accordingly, as we need vitamin D to help absorb calcium.

6. Vitamin B12

B12 is fortified in some foods. However, these amounts alone are not enough, therefore it is important to supplement with vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin is the active, bio-available form so look for this in your supplement.

7. Eat 40 plants a week!

Aiming for 40 different plants per week might sound a lot, but this actually includes fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices.

Getting 40 different plants in per week will not only provide essential fibre, but also ensures diversity of nutrients and flavours in your diet.

8. Try different spices and herbs

Use various spices and herbs to make your plant-based meals tastier and more interesting. They add flavour, extra nutrients, and count towards your aim of 40 plants per week.

9. Don’t overthink it!

A plant-based diet doesn’t have to be complicated.

Focus on simple meals like a bowl of grains, veggies, and beans. Replace what you usually eat with plant-based options. Enjoy discovering new foods and recipes, and remember that balance and variety are key.

10. Opt for reduction rather than elimination

If you don’t want to cut out meat/fish/dairy altogether, it is still  better from a health and environmental perspective to reduce your consumption of animal products, and increase your consumption of plant-based wholefoods.

Natasha Draycott
Nutritional Therapist, DipCNM, BANT, CNHC. 
Cherry Tree Therapy Rooms, Hart Street, Henley-on-Thames

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