Know your onions

QUICK 5-DAY MEAL PLAN It might be helpful if you plan your meals. This plan shows youjust how easy it is!

This section is for those of you who wish to know more about nutrition.


You must make sure you eat enough each day to get plenty of energy. Don't skip meals, don't go hungry and don't fill up with lots of fizzy, sugary drinks and sweets!

You can get energy from all foods but those high in carbohydrates (bread, pasta, potatoes, dried fruit, fruit juice) and fat (vegetable oils, margarine, nuts and seeds) are especially good.

Fat should not contribute more than 35% of the total energy intake of adults and older children.

Estimated average requirements for energy in calories (kcal) / day

  • 4-14 yrs (boys) 1715-2220
  • 4-14 yrs (girls) 1545-1845
  • 15-18 yrs (boys) 2755
  • 15-18 yrs (girls) 2110
  • 19+ yrs (boys) 2550-2100
  • 19+yrs (girls) 1940-1810
  • The calorie content of processed foods are listed on the packaging. Foods high in sugar and fat are high in calories.


    It is very easy to obtain enough protein during the teenage years. In fact unless you are not eating enough calories each day, in other words starving yourself, then you are unlikely to be lacking in protein. And you don't require huge amounts of protein either!

    Protein requirement/day

  • 11-14 yrs (boys) 42.1g
  • 11-14 yrs (girls) 41.2g
  • 15-18 yrs (boys) 55.2g
  • 15-18 yrs (girls) 45.0g
  • Examples of the amount of food providing 10g of protein

  • 39g peanuts
  • 109g wholemeal bread
  • 159g boiled peas
  • 256g baked potatoes
  • Eat all the above in one day and you will have eaten 55g of protein. Easy! Even better, you will also be getting energy, vitamins and minerals which are also contained in these foods


    Vitamin A

    Vitamin A or retinol is found naturally only in animal foods. But the carotenes (beta carotene or pro-vitamin A is the most important) are found in orange and green leafy vegetables. Not only is beta-carotene the only natural source of vitamin A for vegans, it is also one of the prime sources for omnivores!

    Requirement for vitamin A through to adult (one microgram of retinol is equivalent to 6ug of beta-carotene)

  • Girls 350ug-600ug
  • Boys 350ug-700ug
  • Examples of the amount of beta-carotene in different foods per 100g


  • 4300-11000ug carrots
  • 3375ug curly kale
  • (raw)

  • 300-3000ug mango
  • 640ug tomato
  • B Vitamins

    While each B vitamin is unique, they have features in common and tend to be found in the same types of foods such as wholegrains and pulses (except B12 - see below.

    The daily requirements for each B vitamin for all teenagers is as follows.

  • 0.7-1.1mg B1 (Thiamine)
  • 1.1-1.3mg B2 (Riboflavin)
  • 12-18mg B3 (Niacin)
  • 1-1.5mg B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • 200ug Folate
  • 3-7mg Pantothenic Acid
  • 1.2-1.5ug B12
  • Biotin No optimal consumption for biotin but the Dept of Health estimates that intakes between 10-200ug are safe and adequate.
  • Example of the range of B vitamins in 100g Wholemeal bread

  • 0.34mg B1 (Thiamine)
  • 0.09mg B2 (Riboflavin)
  • 4.1mg B3 (Niacin)
  • 0.12mg B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • 39ug Folate
  • 0.6mg Pantothenic Acid
  • 6ug Biotin
  • 0ug B12
  • Example of the range of B vitamins in 100g of frozen (& boiled) peas

  • 0.26mg B1 (Thiamine
  • 0.00mg B2 (Riboflavin
  • 1.6mg B3 (Niacin)
  • 0.09mg B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • 47ug Folate
  • 0.14mg Pantothenic Acid
  • 0.4ug Biotin
  • 0ug B12
  • B12

    A lot of worry has been generated over getting enough B12 and dietary deficiency of B12 in vegans is rare.

    B12 is made by bacteria and was traditionally obtained from fresh garden vegetables and fermented foods. Now, however, due to the intensive processing of fruit and vegetables in the food industry, these foods can no longer be relied upon as adequate B12 sources. Some people may obtain B12 from lightly washed home-grown vegetables. However, foods fortified with B12 are a more reliable source. Try to include B12 in your diet at least 2-3 times per week. Foods containing B12 include fortified soya milk, fortified vegan margarines, yeast extracts and some breakfast cereals e.g. many Kelloggs cereals are suitable for vegans and contain B12.

    Vitamin C

    Examples of the amount of vitamin C in different fruits per 100g

  • 150-230mg Blackcurrants
  • 44-79mg Oranges
  • 59mg Kiwi
  • 54mg Clementine
  • Vitamin D

    Few foods naturally contain vitamin D and those which do are animal products (vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol). Dietary sources of vitamin D are relatively unimportant as most people obtain vitamin D from the action of ultra-violent B light on sterols in the skin (in other words sunlight on the skin!). Winter time supply of vitamin D depends on the previous summer's exposure creating adequate stores in the liver, or on dietary sources. The exact requirement of vitamin D is unknown. Vegan sources of vitamin D (D2 or ergocalciferol) include some fortified soya milks, vegan margarine. If you don't get much sunshine, go out with your skin covered up or do not eat foods fortified with vitamin D, then you should consider taking a supplement (vitamin tablet).

    Vitamin E

    Vitamin E is found in many plant foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. The Dept of Health has not set a recommended intake of vitamin E but says that 3-4mg daily is adequate.

    Examples of the amount of vitamin E in different foods per 100g

  • 37.77mg Sunflowerseeds
  • 4.99mg Peanut butter
  • 40.68mg Safflower oil


    Calcium isn't only found in cow's milk and cheese (despite what the adverts imply!).A lot of people don't realise which types of foods contain calcium and are under the impression that milk is the only useful source. To make things clearer we have compared the calcium in milk to the calcium contained in vegetables. Be amazed. Be very amazed!

    For extra calcium each day use a calcium-enriched soya milk in your drinks and for cooking. If you are still concerned about calcium intake or osteoporosis in later life we have information sheets on both topics. Just send us a stamped addressed envelope and ask for free copies.

    Examples of the amount of calcium in different foods per 100g

  • 115mg Whole milk (yuk!! not to be eaten)
  • 240mg Almonds
  • 680mg Tahini
  • 130mg White french stick
  • 100mg Wholemeal crackers
  • Iron

    If you were to listen to scare stories you would think every vegan was anaemic. Well, it just isn't true and there is plenty of iron in a vegan diet. Iron obtained from meat is better absorbed than iron obtained from plant sources. However, vitamin C helps the absorption and vegans eat a lot of this. If you drink a glass of fruit juice with your meals, you will enhance your iron intake.

    The Dept of Health recommends a daily intake of 11.3-14.8mg for teenagers.

    Examples of the amount of iron in different foods per 100g

  • 3.5mg Wholemeal olls
  • 1.4mg Baked beans
  • 2.2mg Dried mixed fruit
  • 4.2mg Dried figs
  • 3.0mg Almonds
  • 10.6mg Tahini
  • Still worried about iron? Well, take a look at the iron content of meat and milk - 100g of grilled lamb cutlets contains 1.9mg of iron. And cow's milk is a very poor source of iron. In fact 100g of skimmed milk contains 0.06mg of iron!


    The Dept of Health recommends a daily intake of 9mg of zinc for teenagers.

    Examples of the amount of zinc in different foods per 100g

  • 4.2mg Brazil nuts
  • 3.3mg Dry roasted peanuts
  • 5.4mg Tahini
  • 1.8mg Wholemeal bread
  • HINT

    Nutrition is a complex subject and different nutrients interact with each other to keep your body healthy. Eat lots of different foods throughout the day, making sure you don't rely heavily on one particular food e.g. chips.

    email the Vegan Society at