Lockdown 2021 needn’t mean you can’t try a vegan diet this Veganuary. The beauty of plant-based eating is the potential to eat plenty of whole foods that are high in fibre and essential nutrients. Often that means more home cooking with fewer takeaways – and staying at home is the perfect way to get balance with your new vegan eating plan.
We’re lucky that many vegan foods make great swaps for meat-based foods and some even bring rich umami (savoury) flavours, but this isn’t always the case. Many young people I work with make like-for-like switches and assume the vegan versions will provide them the same nutrition. Here are two examples of how to enrich popular food swaps so you can become more nutrition savvy.
Aquafaba instead of egg white?
The protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAAS) compares a protein’s amino acid quality as well as our ability to digest it . Vegan recipes will often suggest aquafaba (chickpea liquid from a can) in place of egg white. Although this has a great culinary use, I don’t see this as a good swap nutritionally. Egg protein has a high PDCAAS because it has the perfect balance of all nine essential amino acids and is easily digestible, making it an excellent protein source. Aquafaba has less than a fifth of the protein you’d get from egg white. So, by all means cook with aquafaba, but also include a protein source such as soya mince, beans or nuts in your meal.
Jackfruit instead of chicken?
I love the fact that young green jackfruit has a similar texture to chicken or pork and comes conveniently in a can. Look a little closer, however, and you’ll find that jackfruit is virtually devoid of protein. So, whenever you’re using it as a meat substitute, think about where else your protein will come from: try adding cashew nuts to a stir-fry or a handful of lentils to a curry.
The good news is that three segments of tinned green jackfruit count as one of your five-a-day fruit and vegetables portions, and it’s a source of fibre. So, enjoy jackfruit as a nutritious food, but don’t use it as your protein source.