Living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle can be difficult when it comes to your iron levels. Iron is needed for your energy levels and immune system, and having too little of it is a problem for your health. I had a period of my life where I was vegetarian and I had to go on an iron supplement. I also had to supplement again when I was pregnant. Although I was able to find an iron supplement I liked, it got expensive really quickly. My low seasons meant I was spending $40+ per month on iron supplements alone. So I decided to look into other ways to add iron to my diet and here's what I found:
ADD IRON RICH FOODS TO YOUR MEALS
Making soup? Add some lentils or split peas. Making a smoothie? Add some dark leafy greens. Thinking of rice? Try amaranth or quinoa instead. There are a lot of foods that could easily be added to a meal or used to replace an ingredient that is lacking in iron. Once you know of a few you like, it's really easy to read a recipe and know what you can add or swap. There's a great list of vegetarian foods that are iron rich on Healthline.
COOKING WITH CAST IRON
Did you know that cooking with cast iron adds more iron to your food? Switching which pot or pan you use to cook dinner is a really easy way to add some more iron to your diet, and it's vegan/vegetarian friendly!
LUCKY IRON FISH
This is really similar to cooking with cast iron, but is great if you still need to supplement iron. The lucky iron fish is a cast iron fish that can be boiled in water, broth, etc with a few drops of lemon juice and it will add 4-7 mg of iron to your food/water. Created as a way to fight anemia in poverty stricken regions of Cambodia, the Lucky Iron Fish retails for roughly $40 CAD and can be used regularly for up to 5 years to add iron to your diet. (A much more affordable supplement option!) Also, when you purchase one a lucky iron fish is donated. You can read more on their website.
If you think you need to supplement iron, please visit your doctor or a medical professional for a blood test and get their advice as well. You can take too much iron and there could be other vitamins and minerals your body needs that you are not aware of.
Do you know any other easy ways to add iron to your diet? Please share them in the comments!