One of the bigger questions that new vegans have for themselves and have to field from well-wishers and skeptics alike is: “How can you possibly get enough calcium if you don’t ingest dairy products???”
Everything the dairy boards, in collaboration with all the governments of the western world, has forced into your mind since you were a child is nothing but a big, fat lie. Most of their products are in fact killing you. But, this is for another post and is probably something you’re already aware of and is a reason why you’re going vegan in the first place.
1000mg per day. This, for the most part, is the agreed upon daily standard intake of calcium for adults. Sound like a lot? Not really at all. I am not a supplement junkie but I’ve always taken a standard 1-a-day vitamin. I would never stop this ritual simply because of the B12 that is included. What is also included in my 1-a-day that I currently have a year’s supply of is 200mg of calcium. Right off the bat, first thing in the morning, before my eyes are even fully open, I’m already 1/5th of the way there.
There are quick lists throughout the internet (just Google ‘calcium in vegetables’ and you’ll get a few hundred thousand hits) with vegetables and the amount of calcium they contain. The on-line nutritional bible, nutritiondata.com (the ones that make the labels that are on all the food packages), lists 17 pages at 50 items per page of the top vegetables or vegetable products that are highest in calcium. That’s 850 items! A sample of a handy condensed version is at www.carrotcafe.com.
Most vegetables, plain and simple, contain calcium. Plenty contain more than 50mg per 100 gram serving. It doesn’t take long to add up to that magic 1000mg number. Some of the best and still realistically available and edible are beet greens, radishes, beans of all kinds, spinach (duh!), cabbages of all kinds, celery (!), and broccoli. The interesting thing about broccoli is that the stalk contains more calcium than the florets by about 10mg per 100g. When I cook broccoli, I always include the stalk, sliced fairly thin.
It is not difficult to keep up with the recommended daily intake of calcium at all. Stick to a wide mixture of fruits and vegetables in your day from start to finish. If you still have some concerns, take in some fortified soy or rice milk as well as a multi-vitamin and you’ll get more than enough.
Remember, if people give you a hard time about you practicing your right to not consume dairy products, remind them that humans are the only creations in the known universe that drink milk after they are a baby.