Can this be healthy? This is what doctors say about the vegan hype
No meat or fish, no eggs and no milk. Even honey is a no-go for vegan people. A trend to live vegan has clearly developed and an increasing number of people volunteer to abstain entirely from animal products. According to estimates of the vegetarian association, around 900,000 people in Germany follow a vegan diet. But what impact does this kind of diet have on the human body and what do doctors say about it? Is a vegan diet healthy?
In the media, it is emphasized repeatedly that a vegan diet is healthy. And this is true – at least to a certain point. A fully balanced herbal diet can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, overweight, diabetes and hypertension. Results of epidemiological studies in the Current Atherosclerosis Reports of 2008 and 2014 already confirmed this thesis.
Vegans are better informed about possible nutrient deficiencies
Vegans are also more informed about the possible insufficient supply of nutrients and vitamins, which can be associated with a purely plant diet. “Most vegans now know that one should pay particular attention to the intake of certain critical nutrients such as vitamin B12 and calcium”, says nutritionist Markus Keller in the run-up to the Berlin conference VegMed.
Not eating animal-based food such as meat or dairy products can result in a deficit of vital proteins, vitamins A, B1 and B12 as well as iron and zinc. Therefore, physicians often recommend replacing these nutrients with supplementary preparations. In this context, scientists advise against a vegan diet when it comes to pregnant or breastfeeding women, sportsmen and above all children. A vitamin- and protein-based diet is particularly important for children and adolescents.
Vegan doesn’t always mean healthy
But beware, not every vegan diet automatically means you’re healthy. For instance, physicians and nutritionists warn that eating only vegan food can be in fact very unhealthy. Many people mistakenly believe that the simple renunciation of meat, milk or eggs is enough to live healthier. But if your daily food only consists of fat-rich fries, sugar-loaded soft drinks or white bread, then you might be vegan but you probably won’t stay healthy. Therefore, vegan does not automatically equal healthy. Most importantly, your food choices should consist of a balanced plant-based vegan diet.
The right vegan food is important
It’s not enough to simply give up animal products and pursue a vegan diet. Dr. Kim Allan Williams from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago emphasizes that it is extremly important to educate people about the right selection of herbal and vegan foods. A healthy vegan diet should consist of basic foods such as vegetables and fruits as well as water. These foods can be supplemented with e.g. whole grain products (oat flakes, dark bread, whole grain rice and millet), legumes, nuts and oil seeds, small quantities of high-quality fats (olive oil, hemp oil and coconut oil) and soy products of high quality such as tofu or seitan. There are numerous vegan recipes ranging from easy to difficult which are nowadays available in every bookstore as well as many helpful forums on the internet. And even if you do not want to go without your breakfast egg or your milk coffee, it does not hurt to eat vegan food from time to time. Thanks to the many delicious vegan recipe ideas, it’s no difficulty at all.
Source of images: iStock / yulkapopkova & minoandriani and YouTube / Caitlin Shoemaker