Vegan Society Dietitian, Heather Russell, introduces a free dietary self-assessment tool for vegans and explains why we decided to add this app to our range of nutrition resources.
When I joined The Vegan Society, I was given the task of updating the nutrition section of our website. It was the perfect start to my new role as a vegan nutrition specialist because I had to do lots of research and translate this information into useful tips for vegans. The idea of creating a nutrition app was floating around, and after finishing the website update, it felt like the time was right to explore it.
Whilst updating the website, I’d come up with a checklist that enabled me to quickly assess the quality of a vegan diet. It was based on the UK’s Eatwell Guide, but also included nutrients that deserve special attention. It seemed to me that an app would be a great way of helping people to compare their vegan diet to the healthy eating guidelines on our website, empowering them to take control of their nutrition. This was the start of the VNutrition project.
Who can use the app?
VNutrition is mainly aimed at new vegans, and those trying out a vegan diet, but it’s also useful for someone who wants to assess the quality of a well-established vegan diet. The nutrition content is specific to UK adults. Resources about vegan nutrition for people younger than 19 years old and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding can be found in the life stages section of the website.
How does the app work?
The app encourages you to keep a food diary. This isn’t something that you need to do every day, but it is a good idea to record your dietary intake for at least three days in a row. If you work during the week, you could use it Sunday to Tuesday, or Thursday to Saturday. This will allow you to compare your weekday and weekend eating habits, which are likely to differ. Try to record food and drinks throughout the day to ensure that the food diary reflects your intake as accurately as possible.
At the end of the day, spend a few minutes working through the nine questions in the checklist. When you first start using the app, you will need to ensure that you understand each question by looking at the tips, illustrations and links associated with it. You can go back to this information as often as you like. If you have hit the nutritional target, you tick it off. Don’t panic if you aren’t ticking all the boxes straight away. We’re hoping this app will highlight some easy ways of eating well and encourage you to try increasing your intake of nutritious vegan foods.
Once you have finished working through the checklist, you can compare the percentage of targets hit to other days using the progress graph. If you consistently miss certain nutritional targets, the app will generate tailored tips to help you improve the quality of your diet.
Why doesn’t this app analyse my dietary intake?
Using this app won’t 100% guarantee that you’re meeting all of your nutritional requirements, but it will help you to adopt healthy habits and make the most of your vegan diet. By asking yourself nine simple questions about what you eat and drink every day, you will bring to life the concept of a balanced diet, learn about nutrients that deserve special attention, and understand the role of supplementation.
Can I trust this app?
The nutrition content of this app was created by me. As a Registered Dietitian, I’m passionate about helping people to eat well by providing sound advice. I’m also the only dietitian in the UK employed by a vegan organisation. The Vegan Society has formed an alliance with the British Dietetic Association; we’re committed to providing reliable education about nutrition.