As a vegetarian I sort of glossed over the fact that my Omega supplements were derived from fish oils and I would on occasion eat fish to ensure that I was getting my Omega fats in my body. In fact, fish was the only animal product I was consuming for a long time because for some reason I had an unfounded fear that I may die if I didn’t get my Omega’s from fish. Then I learned about by-catch, the unintentional lassoing of everything under the sea from the target fish to sea turtles. By-catch not only kills hundreds of species but also disrupts the entire ecosystem of the underwater environment. Not to mention fish are full of toxins such as mercury and dioxins. So out went fish from my diet and I became full out Vegan. Then there was a moment of panic, “what about my Omega’s?!”
So let’s break it down. There are two important types of Omega fatty acids; Omega 6 and Omega 3. These two molecules are important for our overall health as they serve as building blocks and support for the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. We mammals can not make Omega 6‘s, such as Linoleic Acid, and Omega 3‘s, such as EPA and DHA, in sufficient amounts. This makes Omega 6’s and 3’s essential fatty acids. This was the cause for my panic. Where was I going to get these necessary gems? Have no fear. After a little research I discovered the plant world is full of a wide variety of sources of essential fatty acids.
Flax seeds have the high content of Alpha Linolenic acid, which is converted to DHA and EPA in the body. Flax seed oil is a perfect substitute for Olive oil in any salad dressing. In addition ground flax can be added to smoothies. Make sure your flax seeds are ground up! If not it will literally pass right on through.
Chia is full of Omega goodness. In addition to being a source of complete protein, they also contain both essential fatty acids in an ideal ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. Best idea to get Chia into your diet? Chia pudding!
Hemp seeds also contain both essential fatty acids and are a great plant based source of protein as well. The earthy flavor of hemp seeds make some people stay away but you can easily pair it with other strong flavors such as adding it as a topping on a kale salad.
All nuts and seeds contain some amount of essential fatty acids but walnuts are superstars. As far as nuts go they contain the highest amount of Omega 3’s. Walnuts can be a snack on their own or added to cereals and salads.
See? No cause for concern. The fish has been ditched and we have all the Omega bases covered!