Why vegans need seaweed in their diet
Not a month into the 2020’s with forest fires still raging across Australia, transparency and action around the climate crisis has never been greater, with more and more people making changes in their day to day lives. If you are one of the people who have decided to try Veganuary, or you have already decided to increase your consumption of plant-based foods, here’s what you need to know about seaweed - not only for your own health, but also for the health of the planet. Seaweed delivers essential plant-based nutrients that are normally attributed to animal products, and it also plays a key role in alleviating climate change. Here’s why….
- Health Benefits
When you cut meat and dairy out of your diet, an array of vitamins and minerals need to be sought from other sources. Moving to a plant-based diet requires nutritional know-how as it is crucial to keep your body nourished and healthy. Seaweed can provide a unique source of these vital nutrients, acting as a nutritional pillar to a vegan diet. Seaweed contains metabolising combinations of iron, potassium, magnesium, iodine, calcium, fibre, zinc and more. Iodine and calcium are two nutrients that are difficult to find in non-meat products.
Iodine is usually found in foods such as fish, milk, yoghurt, eggs. It is therefore difficult as a vegan to get your proper fix, and is a key mineral for making your thyroid work properly. Not enough iodine in your diet can lead to a lack of energy, weight gain or weight management issues, thin and dry skin, acne, feeling cold, constipation, inability to concentrate, and general aches and pains in muscles and bones. It is also key mineral for brain development of babies, so is vital for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Seaweed is the best source of iodine, containing greater quantities than any other food. A 1 teaspoon serving of our Dulse, Kombu or Shony contains 100% of an adult’s recommended daily intake of iodine.
Calcium content in meat-containing diets is usually sourced through milk, cheese and other dairy products. Seaweed is one of the best vegetable sources of calcium, which is essential for building strong bones and teeth. It also has a higher absorption rate than if taken in the form of supplements, as seaweed combines calcium with potassium and magnesium which aids efficient absorption into the body. Shony contains 12.2mg (1.52% DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) of calcium per 2 grams, and Kombu contains 26.2mg per 2g serving, which amounts to 3.28% DRI.
Here’s more information on the health benefits of seaweed.
Seaweed can be used as an easy addition to enrich dishes with deep and intense flavours, an element sometimes missing in home vegan cooking. It can be integrated into your favourite recipes to add flavour, nutrition, and can be used as a salt replacement. The human pallet can taste sweet, salty, bitter, sour and the fifth flavour - umami.
Seaweed satisfies umami cravings whilst also being good for you. Foods with more ‘umami qualities’ have been shown to increase satiety, or feeling full. So adding a little seaweed to your meals might lead to weight loss.
Heston Blumenthal commented in The Guardian:
“In the west, for years we've used fat to add richness and fullness to the food we cook. In the far east, however - and in Japan in particular - that added richness has long been provided by foods with a high umami content, most notably kelp and kombu, the dried seaweed that is used to make that versatile and essential Japanese broth, dashi. This broth really does lend a full-ness of flavour and a meaty tone - and with none of the fattiness that comes from using butter or cream, either.”
- Carbon Footprint
Seaweed as a food crop has an incredible foothold in our global carbon capture potential. The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) findings show that coastal ecosystems can draw down carbon 20 times more quickly than forests per hectare. Seaweed is a crop that does not require pesticides, fertilizers or land areas to grow, plus it purifies water systems, supports a haven of marine biodiversity, oxygenates water and provides a nursery for young fish. Although currently a niche health food or cosmetics product, seaweed has huge potential in the future of our food system, if it is accepted and integrated into western diets.
So… get started with a seaweed selection tins today, and get 10% off orders made in January with the code VEGANUARY. Our Mara Shony is also available in Tesco and Morrisons.
- IPCC [Core Writing Team, R.K.P.a.L.A.M.e., AR5 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 14. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2014: Geneva, Switzerland. p. 151.