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Omega 3 In Vegan And Vegetarian Diets

Indeed, you know someone in your group of friends who is adept at vegetarianism or veganism. The personal reasons behind the growing adherence to these lifestyles can be diverse. The main reasons are health, ethics, religion, environment, economy, and acceptance of animal rights. While vegetarians do not eat meat, vegans exclude both meat and any substance of animal origin from their diet.

Therefore, due to the more restricted diet of these groups, some nutrients are left out and need to be compensated. This is the case of omega 3, a type of healthy fat essential for maintaining health and preventing disease. We have already mentioned the importance of this nutrient here, which has, as some of its sources, eggs, and fish.

Therefore, is it possible for a person who does not eat this type of food to meet the needs of omega 3 for the body? This is the subject we are going to address in this text.

Vegetarianism: Restricted To Food 

Vegetarianism has been a healthy option since the beginning of time. Throughout history, this practice has spread throughout the world’s culture. Great philosophers and thinkers adhered to this routine, starting with Pythagoras and passing through Leonardo da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, and Albert Einstein.

But, after all, what does it mean to be a vegetarian? From a nutritional point of view, it means not eating meat (beef, chicken, fish, seafood) or meat products (ham, sausage, hamburger). There are different forms of vegetarianism, as the inclusion or exclusion of animal products in the diet is what determines the type adopted, which can be:

  • Strict vegetarian: does not consume any meat, eggs, honey, dairy products, and products that contain animal derivatives among the ingredients;
  • Lactovegetarian: excludes all types of meat and eggs but uses dairy products;
  • Ovo vegetarian: consumes eggs and does not use any meat or dairy products;
  • Ovolactovegetarian: does not consume any meat but includes eggs and dairy products in the diet.

Individuals who follow vegetarianism must learn to perform the best combination of cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, starches, legumes, and oils for nutrient absorption.

Veganism: A Way Of Life 

Nowadays, we see that veganism is no longer a “hippie philosophy.” To become one of the biggest trends of the millennium. The vegan diet excludes meat, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and honey. Everything comes from animals. Retention goes beyond food groups: vegans attribute their principles when purchasing beauty products, clothes, and accessories, prioritizing those that defend the animal cause and non-aggression to the environment. Veganism is very much linked to personal behavior and lifestyle, as well as food adjustments.

In the last decade, the number of vegans has increased by 350% in Great Britain, according to the BBC. When following a vegan lifestyle, you must be responsible, including plant products rich in protein in your diet, such as dried fruits, seeds, soy-based components, legumes, lentils, and grains. Iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and omega-3 nutrients are high in animal-source foods.

As veganism rejects this consumption, care must be taken to compensate for the recommended amount of these components so that there is no nutritional deficit. Health can be harmed when the ideal amount of nutrients is not ingested. Therefore, experts recommend the consumption of fortified foods and dietary supplements.

What About Omega 3?

Our organism cannot produce two types of fat: omega six and omega 3. When an adequate amount is not consumed, the individual has a deficiency after a certain period. Prioritizing the balance of intake is fundamental, as these fats are essential for various body functions, such as inflammatory and immune reactions. The omega-3 fatty acid is responsible for the proper development and maintenance of the brain and can be found in foods of marine origin, especially in sardines and salmon. It also acts in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, triglyceride metabolism, and platelet and endothelial function.

As fish are not present in the diet of vegetarians and vegans, those who follow them tend to have low levels of omega 3 in their blood, resulting in low concentrations of eicopentaoic acids (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and it is necessary to increase eating foods that contain this fat. So they look to an alternative source: the conversion of linoleic acid to omega-3 fatty acids through plant-based options.

Plant-Based Foods Rich In Omega-3s:

  • Linseed;
  • Nuts and other oilseeds;
  • Canola oil and soybean oil; 
  • Chia; 
  • Algae; 

To Complete:

As we have seen, daily intake of omega-3s is crucial for maintaining health, especially for followers of veganism and vegetarianism. To avoid risks and chronic diseases, the public must be aware of what they consume and ensure sufficient nutrients. We emphasize that it is possible to continue introducing omega 3 in the diet without opting for meat, through food or supplements, with the amount duly controlled by a professional.


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