One of the most annoying and most repeated myths about plant-based diets is: ‘If you don’t eat meat, you won’t get enough iron and you’ll become anaemic!’ A new study confirmed that vegetarians eating a healthy, varied diet are not at any greater risk of iron deficiency anaemia than meat-eaters but also revealed that contrary to what most people think, meat-eaters get less than just 20 per cent of their iron from meat while almost half of their iron intake (45 per cent) comes from cereals and cereal products. A diet rich in wholegrain cereals and breads (many of which are now enriched with iron), beans and other pulses, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, and nuts and seeds provides an adequate iron intake. Fresh fruits and vegetables also contain lots of vitamin C which increases iron absorption so it’s an ideal combination!
Saunders, AV, et al., 2012. Iron and vegetarian diets. MJA Open. 1 Suppl 2: 11-16.