Dear doctor: Is a vegan diet completely safe and healthy? I have a daughter and a granddaughter who are on a vegan diet and I am concerned. What can’t they eat? Are they getting all the vitamins, minerals and protein they need? Any information you have is welcome.
Dear reader: Vegan diets have grown in popularity in recent years. Considering that the majority of people in the United States are more familiar with a diet that includes meat, seafood, and dairy, your worry that your daughter and granddaughter are going on a diet. herbal is understandable. We are happy to reassure you that, when done right, a vegan diet is not only safe, but also healthy.
Let’s start with the basics. Vegans do not eat animal flesh, animal by-products, or foods that contain an ingredient of animal origin. Instead, they focus on vegetables, legumes, grains, beans, nuts and nut butters, seeds, fruits, vegetable fats, and a wide range of food products made from sources. non-animal. These include high protein meat substitutes such as tofu, tempeh and seitan, and dairy substitutes including oat, soy and almond milks.
Vegans also avoid a number of other foods and food products that sometimes have surprising animal connections. These include honey, which is produced by bees; gelatin, which is derived from cartilage and bones; some types of soy sauce, which use fish in the fermentation process; and even table sugar, which is often filtered using bone charcoal.
It is true that any type of restrictive diet can make it harder to get the full range of nutrients you need. For vegans, this means paying special attention to vitamin B12. It is essential for the production of red blood cells, plays a role in the health of nerve cells, and helps in DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products, so vegans should take steps to add it to their diet. This is easy because B12 is available as a vitamin supplement and is added to a wide range of fortified and fortified grains and soy products. The same care should be taken to get enough protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, zinc, iron, and vitamin D. It may sound complex, but a healthy vegan diet just requires a little more planning.
Recent research on people on plant-based diets offers a lot of good news. This includes a significantly lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and some cancers, better blood sugar control, lower rates of type 2 diabetes, better blood pressure numbers, and lower rates of obesity in young adults. .
It’s important to note that these studies looked at healthy vegan diets. It means eating from a wide variety of fresh, whole foods. The advice to avoid highly processed foods holds true for vegans. We think it might be helpful for the three of you to meet with a registered dietitian to discuss the specifics of vegan eating. This will strengthen your daughter and granddaughter’s understanding and may help allay your worries.