Do Vegans and Vegetarians Have an Iron Deficiency?

Do vegans and vegetarians have an iron deficiency? I get that question a lot. I also overhear people sometimes claim that we actually do have that deficiency. I wanted to get to the bottom of this and see how close to or far from the truth they are.

Protein is not a problem, neither is calcium, vitamins aren’t either. Even vitamin B12 can be found in fortified foods. So, why would iron be an issue?

Do Vegans and Vegetarians Have an Iron Deficiency?

Let’s take a look at some plant-based iron sources.

  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • White beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Mushroomskale
  • Tofu
  • Dry roasted cashew nuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Ground linseed
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Quinoa
  • White grains
  • Nuts
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Squash
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Leeks
  • Dried apricots
  • Figs
  • Dark chocolate (Ooh, I love this iron source! I could eat chocolate every day 🙂 )

Important note: if you – like me – love to drink tea, then make sure you don’t drink too much black tea when you ingest iron. Black tea causes your body not to absorb the iron. I love Earl Grey, English Breakfast tea, and Chai which are all black teas, so on days when I eat a lot of iron, I remind myself to drink green tea or any other tea that is not black. The same goes for excessive amounts of coffee.

tea cups

Why shouldn’t you drink coffee and/or black tea when you eat iron-rich foods?

Both tea and coffee contain tannins that inhibit iron digestion. Tannins bind with iron during digestion, making the absorption of this important mineral difficult.

So, eating iron-rich foods won’t do much for you if you drink a lot of coffee and/or black tea.

Final Thoughts

So, you see, as a vegan there are plenty of iron sources, and there is nothing to worry about. Those claims that vegans and vegetarians lack iron are based on the myth that iron is only obtained through meat, but the same has been claimed for protein and we know by now that that isn’t true either.

do research

If you remember to limit black tea and change it to green or fruit teas when or after you eat plant-based iron sources, then you’ll be fine. Rooibos (or Rooibos vanilla) tea is also a delightful alternative.

While I did not plan on making this post about tea, I couldn’t resist adding these lovely tea cups here. Aren’t they divine?

Thank you for stopping by again. I hope this post was useful to you. If you have any comments or questions, please let me know in the comments below.

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10 thoughts on “Do Vegans and Vegetarians Have an Iron Deficiency?”

  1. As one who likes Earl Grey tea I find it interesting to see that black tea causes the body not to absorb tea and this info is well noted. When I think of iron in vegetables I always seem to think of the childhood cartoon Popeye where he ate a can of spinach and increased strength. Green tea is also excellent so knowing it’s the better choice is great info as well. The tea cups are pretty cute I must say and will make for a perfect gift, so I’ll save your post for when it’s soon time to order. Well done!

    • Earl Grey is my favorite, I drink it nearly every morning for tea. Popeye was a great series, and a good incentive for kids to get vegetable iron 😉  I always enjoyed watching Popeye 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. I’ve always been an iron deficient regardless of my diet type. Maybe, because I have not been adding those listed foods in my diet!

    Found your article so useful. Hopefully I won’t be anemic anymore!

    Best wishes

  3. Hello there, This is an amazing article that you have got here. Well as a vegan subscriber I do know that they do not lack iron.  They are very profiting for body use and do contain necessary nutrients that can keep the body fresh and healthy. I will try to take in much of green tea as you have shared with us.

    Thanks for sharing this with me.

  4. By the look of it vegans and vegetarians have no iron deficiency because there are so many sources.

    me as a humble human being is that i love dark chocolate and i consume it almost everyday.

    i suggest that you should make these more popular so that you can receive more interesting answer’s an appreciate you for bringing these article.thanks.

    • Hi,

      Thank you. What should I make more popular? Dark chocolate? Vegans? Both are already popular, chocolate is a favorite with many and veganism is on the rise everywhere. I am not sure what else you could have meant …? I am happy with all my answers, I received some exellent and interesting replies. Thanks.

  5. This article really helped to put my mind to rest. As a vegan, you don’t have to worry about getting enough iron, protein or other nutrients. I think it’s more about eating a variety of healthy foods. And by the way I LOVE my dark chocolate. I dip strawberries and pineapple chunks in it. It’s heavenly. 🙂


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