How to Get Iron on a Vegan Diet, Plus Thirteen Additional Sources

Iron is an essential mineral, yet the body cannot produce it. How to obtain iron from plant-based sources.

Whether you are considering eating less meat or have been vegetarian for some time, iron should be on your radar. As with most nutrients, iron has multiple functions. It is essential for ensuring that your red blood cells can transport oxygen, and if you don’t get enough of it, you may feel exhausted and unfocused, and you may also become ill more frequently than you would like. Iron is commonly associated with meat, however there are other vegan iron sources that can be used to complete out a healthy diet.

What role does iron play in the body?

Iron is a necessary mineral for the body to perform a variety of essential tasks.

Without iron, the body could not produce hemoglobin, a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. Myoglobin, a protein that transports oxygen to your muscles, also requires iron. Additionally, iron promotes immunological function, a healthy pregnancy, high energy levels, and athletic performance.

If you do not consume enough iron, your body will first deplete the iron stored in your liver, bone marrow, spleen, and muscle. It could result in iron deficiency anemia, a condition in which red blood cells shrink and cannot carry as much oxygen. Iron deficiency anemia is characterized by fatigue, weakness, memory loss, and gastrointestinal distress. It may also make you feel like you need to wear extra clothing throughout the cold.

“Your immune system may also be compromised, making you more susceptible to colds and other diseases. Annelie Vogt von Heselholt, DCN, RD, CSO, and founder of Dietitian Doc, tells VegNews that you may be more susceptible to cold conditions.

Heme iron and non-heme iron are the two forms of iron. Meat and shellfish include both types of iron, while non-heme iron is derived from plant-based sources. Vegans and vegetarians are advised to ingest twice as much non-heme iron as heme iron.

Therefore, instead of 8 mg for adult men and 18 mg for adult women, a vegetarian’s daily requirements would be 16 mg and 36 mg, respectively. During pregnancy, this daily requirement increases to 27 mg.

“In addition, non-heme iron is better absorbed when consumed alongside vitamin C-rich meals,” according to Vogt von Heselholt. Citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli should therefore be consumed with iron-rich plant foods.

Avoid consuming coffee or caffeinated tea with iron-rich meals if possible. Tea is known to decrease iron absorption, and studies suggest the same is true with coffee.

Vogt von Heselholt adds, “Using a cast iron pan for cooking can offer more iron from the pan.” Although it sounds like a myth, the data indicates otherwise. According to research, cooking using a cast iron pan may boost blood hemoglobin levels and food iron content.

Can iron be obtained without meat?

Iron is typically connected with meat and shellfish and can be found in animal-based foods such beef, poultry, oysters, mussels, turkey, and ham. However, these are not the only sources of iron. Yes, it is possible to meet your body’s iron needs without consuming animal products. However, due to the prevalence of iron deficiency even among meat eaters, it is important to check your doctor before making significant dietary changes.

The greatest vegan iron sources

There are a variety of ways to combine iron-rich plant meals. The following vegan foods contain this essential mineral:

  1. Legumes

Each lentil, bean, and pea contains iron, but some have more than others. Lentils contain the highest concentration of iron among these pulses. According to USDA data, each cooked cup contains 6.6 mg of iron. Also rich in iron include chickpeas, navy beans, white beans, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas. In addition, these complex carbs are rich in heart-healthy fiber and vitamins and minerals, including folate, a B-vitamin used to treat anemia.

  1. Soy ingredients

Tofu and tempeh are soy-based proteins that contain a respectable quantity of iron. A cup of raw, crumbled tempeh contains 4.48 mg of it, whereas a cup of extra-firm tofu provides 8% of the daily intake. Both of these are excellent plant-based calcium sources.

  1. Seeds and nuts

The finest vegan sources of iron from nuts and seeds include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cashews, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Iron can be obtained by nibbling on a handful of unsalted, unroasted nuts or seeds or nut butter. Additionally, hemp and chia seeds can be utilized as an egg substitute in vegan baking, adding trace levels of iron to the baked goods.

  1. Dark, leafy greens

Dark, leafy greens, such as kale, collards, Swiss chard, and bok choy, contain tiny levels of iron, ranging from 0.99 to 2.15 mg per cooked cup without salt or other seasonings. Cooking is the key to extracting the maximum amount of iron from these nutritious greens. The good news is that it does not matter whether the greens are fresh or frozen, and frozen greens are typically less expensive.

  1. Cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts

Adding cruciferous veggies to your diet will provide you with iron, fiber, and an assortment of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The iron content of a cup of raw broccoli, shredded raw cabbage, and cooked Brussels sprouts ranges from 0.52 to 1.86 mg.

  1. Potatoes

One medium-sized potato has around 1,7 mg of iron, which is nine percent of the daily intake. The majority of the iron is located in the skin, therefore you cannot peel it.

  1. Various mushrooms

Certain species of mushrooms contain iron, albeit only in trace amounts. Iron content is 2.7 mg per cup of cooked white button mushrooms, the most prevalent and typically most affordable option in supermarket stores. Iron content is 1.28 milligrams per 100 grams of enoki mushrooms (we advocate weighing over using cups owing to their shape).

  1. Tomato paste

The flavor of these fresh tomatoes is unsurpassed, but they do not contain much iron. However, tomato paste will contribute a modest quantity of iron to your diet. One spoonful of tomato paste without salt contains 0.47 milligrams of iron. We enjoy using it as a substitute for fresh tomatoes in red sauce, lentil stews, and beans when our cupboard is empty.

  1. Dried fruit

Repetition required: figs, dates, raisins, and prunes are delicious. The idea that dried fruits are heavy in sugar is accurate, but they also include iron, dietary fiber, and simple carbs. Half a cup of deglet noor dates has 0.75 milligrams of iron, but the same volume of figs contains a remarkable 1.5 milligrams. A few tablespoons of raisins in your oatmeal or cereal will also go a long way, as a half-cup of raisins has 2.13 mg. Additionally, dried unsulphured apricots are iron-rich.

  1. Complete grains

In general, whole grains contain more iron than refined grains, but as you will see below, some grain-based enhanced foods also include iron. Choose oats, spelt, quinoa, and long-grain brown rice for whole grains. These contain between 1.13 and 3.20 mg of iron per cooked cup, which is not to be sniffed at.

  1. Enriched bread and pasta

Some bread and pasta products are fortified with iron. The secret to determining which ones they are is to read the nutrition label. For example, a package of enriched spaghetti may have 4.15 mg of iron.

  1. Some varieties of plant-based meat

Iron is present in several plant-based meats, such as Beyond Meat and the Impossible Burger. However, several are heavy in sodium, which could be problematic for persons with hypertension.

  1. Other origins

Iron is present in a few meals that do not fall into the other categories. One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 20% of the daily intake of iron, however it is not a commonly consumed food. The iron content of dark chocolate bars containing at least 45 percent cacao solids varies from bar to bar. Typically, one ounce of dark chocolate contains 3.4 milligrams of iron.

You can also complement your diet with vegan iron supplements. Consult your physician prior to adding a supplement to your routine.

Vegan camping guide

Our vegan camping guide equips you for an excursion into the great outdoors by providing information on topics ranging from cruelty-free sunscreen to s’mores and hiking gear.

Camping provides the ideal setting for getting in touch with nature and living a more simple life, away from the hustle and bustle of modern civilization. You shouldn’t leave your vegan principles behind when you go camping, regardless of whether you like to rough it in a tent and sleeping bag or go glamping in an RV with air conditioning. We are showcasing a few of our favorite foods, supplies, and staples to guarantee that you have a stress-free weekend in the great outdoors so that you can have the most enjoyable cruelty-free camping trip you’ve ever been on.

How to Gear it Up?

If you are going to be camping in an area where the temperature drops at night, you should bring a warm sleeping bag with you so that you won’t be shivering the whole time. You can get sleeping bags that are stuffed with down or wool, but REI has a range of sleeping bags that are simply constructed from synthetic fibers that will keep you warm and comfortable throughout the night.

A robust pair of hiking boots is an absolute must if you intend to go out on the route. If you don’t wear shoes that fit properly, you put yourself in danger of spraining your ankles and experiencing foot pain because your arches aren’t properly supported. As a solution to this problem, we recommend that you get the All Terrain Pro Waterproof Hiker from Eco Vegan Shoes, the Approach Mid from Vegetarian Shoes, or the Merrell Men’s Zion FST Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot if you want your feet and ankles to be supported while hiking in the wilderness.

When you go hiking or camping in the great outdoors, you should have a cruelty-free backpack to carry your drinking water, snacks, and any other items you might require. Both Mountain Smith’s Clear Creek Backpacks and Osprey’s Backpacking Packs are completely free of animal products and are designed to withstand an extensive number of hikes.

The cuisine

Camping food is all about low-maintenance meals that don’t require kitchen facilities and can be tossed up with a few simple ingredients. Nevertheless, this description does not have to connote an unending supply of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and protein bars. Bring some JUST Egg in a cooler with you so you can make a memorable scramble or sandwich for breakfast. This will make your mornings more exciting and less complicated.

You can satiate your need for coffee in the morning with BruTrek’s French Press, which features a durable external casing and was built specifically for use when brewing coffee away from home. Make sure that you include a few packets of Nod Food’s powdered oat creamer in your pack so that you can enjoy a delicious swirl of additional creaminess.

Make this Campfire French Toast, which needs to combine only a few ingredients before you leave on your journey if you want to go a bit more gourmet as you fuel up for the day. This recipe can be found here. When the day’s activities come to a conclusion and your stomach is grumbling for something to eat, rev up the bonfire and throw some kebabs made of tofu and vegetables onto the grill. On a hiking excursion with a backpack? Try some of Readywise’s plant-based meals that have been dehydrated. Our own favorite? Risotto made with wild rice.

As the sun begins to drop, break out the honey-free vegan graham crackers, your favorite fair-trade vegan chocolate bar, and a bag of Dandies marshmallows so you can make s’mores while you tell scary ghost stories.

Other Necessary Components

Because camping is about more than simply food and clothes, you’ll need to bring a few additional camping essentials along with you if you want your vacation to be as fun as it can possibly be. First, when you set up a hammock at your campground, don’t forget to apply some cruelty-free sunscreen to your skin to protect it from the sun so that you won’t have to deal with the discomfort of a sunburn in the future.

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance when camping in the summer, especially if you set up camp close to a body of water like a lake. Use a vegan bug spray or a mixture of essential oils such as citronella, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil to repel insects in a manner that does not involve the use of any products that are tested on animals.

Are you going to have a swim in the river or the lake today? If you’re looking for an earth-friendly approach to dry off, drying off with a sturdy Nomadix towel is the way to go. Because thirty recycled plastic bottles from post-consumer waste go into the production of beach towels, you can feel very good about the decision you’ve made.

Last but not least, you should bring some plant-based hand soap or hand sanitizer with you on your vacation. This is because your bathroom options may be limited (or less than optimal), and your journey will be much more pleasurable if you can maintain a clean and comfortable environment throughout it.

Teriyaki Tofu & Broccoli

Tender broccoli crowns lightly cooked and coated in teriyaki sauce with crispy tofu, served over a bed of fluffy brown jasmine rice.

Servings 2


140g (4.9oz) brown jasmine rice

½ tsp unrefined sesame oil

1 square of extra-firm tofu

1 tsp of finely grated fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, coarsely grated

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp pepper

1 large broccoli crown, chopped 240 milliliters (8 fluid ounces) of teriyaki sauce

1/2 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds

micro broccoli greens, as a garnish

How to prepare it:

Begin by adding the rice and 12 teaspoons of sesame oil to a medium-sized pot. Prepare according to package instructions.

Prepare the tofu by draining and pressing until the majority of excess water has been extracted. Cube the tofu into approximately 12-inch cubes and set them in a small mixing dish. Toss together the grated ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper in the mixing bowl. In the oven or air fryer, brown the tofu at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 19 to 21 minutes, monitoring periodically.

Cut broccoli into bite-sized florets, then rinse and drain it. The strainer must be able to fit over the boiling rice. This will allow the rice scent to impart a pleasant sesame flavor to the broccoli. Cover and steam for approximately 5 minutes, or until tender but not soft.

Combine the steamed broccoli and crispy tofu with 240ml (8 fl oz) of teriyaki sauce in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until all ingredients are uniformly covered.

Add rice to a serving bowl before layering the tofu and broccoli on top. Adding sesame seeds and microgreens enhances the freshness of the dish.