The importance of Zinc and how to get enough on a Plant Based Diet

Do you know if you are you getting enough zinc in your diet?  Our bodies are dependent on the mineral zinc for body growth and development and zinc is especially important for the nervous and reproductive systems and of course the immune system. The body does not store a pool of zinc so it is essential that we have a daily intake of zinc. 1 As many are worried about borders opening up in Australia and the possibility of catching any viruses going around it is important to stay diligent with ensuring you are absorbing enough zinc each day.

Zinc absorption is complex and can be affected by too much folate, cadmium, copper, nickel, magnesium and calcium. It is also affected by how healthy you are or if you have an illness, when not at optimum health zinc tends to travel straight to the liver rather than being absorbed and used by the body.1

In a wholefoods plant based diet there is also the complication of phytates (phytic acid) in foods. While phytates are an incredible antioxidant known for warding off cancer they also can inhibit the absorption of essential minerals like zinc. Phytates in food bind to minerals in the food and can prevent absorption of those minerals (I will do a whole blog post on phytates as they are fascinating). 2

Phytates are predominantly found in whole grains, legumes and some nuts and seeds. There have been extensive studies on the processing of foods in order to remove the phytates.1, 2 What can be done in a household situation is to soak overnight all whole grains, including, wheat, rice, and the pseudo grains millet, buckwheat and quinoa as well as soaking cashews, almonds, brazil nuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds.  Also soaking beans and legumes is important. I just read yesterday in 3 journal articles that soaking beans overnight in water that is heated to 65°C is optimum. Soak the beans or legumes over night and then cook in water that has been heated to 65°C again, discarding the soaking and cooking waters.

In addition fermented foods like miso, tempeh, khoji rice, tamari and soy sauce contain less phytates. Sprouting beans and rice also removes a lot of the phytates.

Even if you follow the soaking and cooking techniques I just mentioned it is also important to possibly increase your daily zinc intake if eating unprocessed grains, legumes and nuts. Phytate content in wholefoods is much greater than in refined grains for example. A study showed that in Sweden where the diet is predominantly refined grains, people were consuming 180mg  phytates per day and those in places like Kenya, Mawai and Mexico where the diet is predominantly whole grains the people were consuming between 1-2 g of phytates. 2

It is safe to say on a whole food plant based diet we would be consuming between 1-2 grams of phytates a day. Both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) decided on an amount of zinc that people on a plant based diet or a diet high in phytates should be consuming daily. The below table shows the zinc amount that the Australian National Reference Values (NRV) suggest as well as the WHO/EFSA recommend. 

I suggest ensuring your zinc intake is based on the WHO/EFSA and you follow the soaking and cooking methods for grains, beans and legumes and nuts mentioned above.

**Note if you have found out you are low in zinc through a blood test then it may be good to take a supplement but be sure to take it at night as it can make you feel nauseous. I also suggest that taking supplements is only a quick fix measure to boost your zinc and not an ongoing thing as it is important to be getting enough zinc through your diet. Supplements have a place but not ongoing as too much zinc can cause problems with cholesterol and have the similar side effects as not enough zinc.


If you would like to see if your present diet is providing you with enough zinc you could book in for a food analysis session


Recommended Daily Intake of Zinc

Age /Gender 

RDI mg/day


Upper Limit  mg**

19 – 70




19 – 70
































RDI: Recommended daily intake (NRV)
WHO/EFSA World Health Organisation /European Food Safety Authority
**Upper Limit: Do not exceed  will cause side effects
For information for children go to

Plant Based Foods Containing Zinc

Foods 100g

Zinc mg

Soy beans




White beans


Black beans




Hemp seeds


Pumpkin seeds




Sunflower seeds




Shitake mushrooms






















Zinc Rich Ramen Soup

This week’s recipe is packed with zinc. This recipe is enough for 2 serves and it has 18.67mg of zinc. If you were to have oats for breakfast or a bean burger and salad with a hemp seeds dressing for lunch you would definitely be reaching your daily zinc requirements.
Enough for 2 meals
½ block firm tofu
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tbsp tamari
½ packet rice noodles
½ head broccoli cut into florets
½ red capsicum sliced
1 carrot julienned
2 handfuls spinach
1 small zucchini julienned
4 tbsp white miso
1 corn cob (corn removed from the kernel)
1 cup peas
Broth Ingredients 
50 g shitake mushrooms sliced
4 cups of filtered  boiling water
6 tbsp sunflower seeds (soaked for 6 hours)
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp tamari
1 inch ginger
1 small brown onion
2 garlic cloves


  1. Cut up the shitake mushrooms and soak in the 4 cups boiling water let sit.
  2. Cut the tofu and place in a baking paper lined baking dish with the rice flour and tamari and a splash of oil. Bake in a 180°C oven for 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Cook the noodles as per packet instructions.
  4. Strain the shitake from the water and reserve the water for the broth. Add all the broth ingredients including the water  to the blender and blitz until smooth.
  5. Place the broth in a saucepan with the corn, carrot and capsicum and cook for 2 minutes then add the broccoli, peas, shitake mushrooms and zucchini and cook for 4 minutes then add the spinach and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Mix the miso with some water and then stir into the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Add the rice or noodles into a bowl and add the tofu to the bowl and pour on the broth.
# If you make this recipe please share on facebook or instagram to #veetsvegancookingschool

Cooking School News

I am excited to announce that we have a new home. We will be moving in a month. This means I can set the dates for 2022 classes.  Next week I will list the dates for the Vegan Chef Training but for now here are the dates for 2022 for the 3 Day Vegan Cooking Course, individual Cooking & Nutrition Class and the Arancini and Ravioli class. So very excited to be offering all of these again. The new venue for classes and sessions will be in the gorgeous town of Murwillumbah Northern NSW and of course all individual sessions can continue online too if you can’t travel.

Cooking & Nutrition Class

Individual sessions will end this year on November 2nd 2021. I still have 8 places left so if you are wanting to do something this year please be quick and book in. 
Individual sessions will recommence on the 31st January 2022.

3 Day Vegan Foundation Cooking Course

The price will increase next year to $1086 (there hasn’t been a price increase for 4 years). However if you pay before 31st December 2021 you will get the old price of $1006.50. If you book with a partner you can share the resources and receive $250 off your partner’s ticket.
Yahoo here are the dates for 2022
25th to 27th January (course includes a trip to the market)
3rd to 5th February 
10th to 12th March
24th to 26th march 
7th to 9th April 
26th to 28th April (course includes a trip to the market)
2nd to 4th June 

Arancini and Ravioli class 

22nd January 2022


Have a wonderful week everyone.



Cooking & Nutrition Class

Online | In-Person
Duration 1hr
Cost $195
These sessions are completely tailored to your needs.  Whether you are new to nutrition and vegan cooking or already have some experience, Veet can work with your level of knowledge and interests.

3 Day Foundation Course

Duration 3 Days
Cost $1,006.50
In this 3 day course, we will cover the fundamentals in vegan cooking and nutrition. The class is hands on and you will immerse yourself in three full days of vegan organic cuisine.

Arancini & Ravioli Class

Duration 3.5hrs
Cost $245
Come along for a fun filled 3.5 hours learning how to make Vegan Aranchini with a Tomato Sauce and Pesto, and Vegan Gluten Free Ravioli from scratch with 3 fillings.



Categories:Soups Mains

Tags:zinc miso Tofu broccoli Corn peas

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