A balanced meal can be put together in many ways. It may contain meat and fish but equally well be a lacto-ovo-vegetarian (=use of milk, milk products and eggs) meal, to which the usual plate model can be applied. The new Let's eat together – Eating recommendations for families (only in Finnish) also provides a plate model for vegans and therefore it's introduced here separately.
A vegan meal should consist of three food groups: a side dish of root vegetables, potato or cereal, fresh and cooked vegetables, and a source of plant-based protein. Each component takes up one third of the plate. The differences in the meal components compared to the basic model ensure that the meal provides sufficient amounts of nutrients and, in particular, energy and protein.
- A versatile vegan diet contains cereal products, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit, berries and vegetable fats as well as a nutritious milk replacement drink.
- In the plate model for vegans, one third of the plate is filled with plant products containing protein, for example whole grain cereal and legumes, including beans, peas or soy in different forms. The second third should be filled with other vegetables, some of which should be raw and some cooked. The last third provides additional carbohydrates, for example pasta or a cereal side dish, for example barley.
- Daily use of a rape seed oil based spread or rape seed oil is recommended to guarantee a sufficient intake of essential fatty acids (linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid).
- Nuts and seeds add both protein and essential fatty acids to the diet.
- A carefully composed vegan diet is also suitable for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and young people
- An adult vegan needs some five to six balanced meals a day to ensure an adequate intake of energy, protein and other types of nutrients.
- If necessary, a sufficient vitamin D intake can be safeguarded by using a vitamin D supplement, especially when pregnant and breastfeeding. According to recommendations, children over two weeks of age can be given 10 μg/a day, and children aged 2-18 years 7.5 μg/day, of a vitamin D supplement.
- A vegan diet should be complemented with nutrition supplements that contain vitamin B12 and iodine.
- In a special diet, the use of one or several foods is restricted for health reasons. Following a special diet is part of treating an illness, and its goal is supporting the individual’s holistic health.