One of the most common, yet most erroneous, arguments against a plant-based diet is whether it provides enough iron.
There are more than a few reasons to support the fact that this argument is a non-issue; for one, animals all over the world, including those closely related (genetically) to humans, survive and thrive on plant-based diets. The second is that there are plenty of plant-based foods that are readily available to provide iron, from greens to fruits to legumes. All you need to do is discover these sources and ensure that your daily diet includes a mix of iron-rich foods.
Additionally, it’s important to understand how much iron your body requires in a day. For men this is 8 mg, while for women it is 18 mg (due to the loss of blood tissue during monthly cycles). For post-menopausal women, the daily amount drops to the same as for men, 8 mg/day. Pregnant women require up to 27 mg of iron per day – so keep in mind that in this case, unless careful monitoring is made, daily iron supplement may be required or recommended by a physician.
So what are the top sources of soy-free, plant-based iron and how much iron do they provide? Check out the list below:
As you can see, even achieving 18 mg per day of iron isn’t difficult when you combine plant-based iron sources. A simple salad of spinach, dried currants, almonds, pumpkin seeds and a few sun-dried tomatoes can easily deliver 10 mg of iron, while some quinoa combined with lentils and hearts of palm can provide another 8 mg. With just two side dishes you’ve covered your bases for the day. Simple as that. Add in a few snacks, plus a nibble of dark chocolate, and you’ve accomplished your goal of 100% plant-based iron intake for the day. Don’t let the naysayers get their way – you can easily get enough iron without meat sources.