If You Don’t Eat Meat, Can’t You Become Anemic?

Many think that you can only get iron from meat, and that vegetarians, vegans, and those who eat just a plant-based diet don’t get enough iron and become anemic. I understand that completely. When Lacey gradually went from eating vegetarian (including eggs and fish) to plant-based (no animal products at all), I too worried that she would become anemic. Then I started reading and researching and found quite the opposite.

Too much of minerals such as iron, copper, aluminum, and zinc can cause brain and central nervous system problems. In Rethink Food, 100+ Doctors Can’t be Wrong, Dr. Carol Tavani says, “Too much iron can contribute to developing age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.” And, that “a plant-based diet can contain at least as much iron as in meat, but our bodies are better able to regulate how much iron is absorbed and utilized.”

In The Starch Solution, Dr. John A. McDougall says, “Marketing efforts by the meat and dairy industries have convinced us that calcium, iron, and protein are essential nutrients we should seek out in large quantities.” He goes on to say, “These nutrients are indeed essential, but what the animal product and pill marketers won’t tell you is that illnesses from deficiencies of these nutrients are virtually unknown, and that common plant foods fully meet our calcium, iron, and protein needs.”

According to Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his best-selling book Eat to Live, he has a chart that shows nutrients present in 100-calorie portions of selected foods, showing iron amounts for broccoli 2.2 mg, steak .8 mg,  romaine lettuce 5.7 mg, and kale 3.2 mg. Does that surprise you? It did me at one time. Men need 8 mg a day and women 19-51 need 18 mg a day. Lots of other plant-based foods contain iron like spinach, nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains, and dried fruits such as raisin. When iron-rich foods are consumed with vitamin C, your body can absorb it easier.

Another great thing about eating plants is you can eat a lot! There is no way you will ever feel hungry. Get a big bowl and fill it with all kinds of lettuces, nuts, beans, veggies, and fruits and eat up! Try drizzling a little of this Annie's dressing I found with no oil, all natural, and only 15 calories per tablespoon.. Salad never tasted so great!

Is there someone in your life who could benefit from learning about a plant-based diet to help with the prevention or care of an illness? Browse our other posts to learn more about the plant-based diet and get recipe ideas and shopping/dining out tips so that you can try plant-based eating. Please let us know how you feel in our comment area below or @forkfuloflove on Twitter or Instagram!