Whether for ideological, ethical or health reasons: More and more people are opting for a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. But how healthy are these diets? When evaluating, one has to distinguish between the two forms: While vegetarians only reject foods from dead animals such as meat, vegans also avoid dairy products and eggs.
Positive: usually fewer calories
Vegetarians and vegans often consume fewer calories than meat eaters. This is why they are less likely to be overweight – a positive effect. However, you should be careful with children, who often need more nutritional energy during growth phases.
Away with the fat!
Since meat and sausages are not part of the menu, vegetarians and vegans consume less fat and cholesterol. This is also noticeable in the blood lipid levels. This is why vegetarians and vegans are less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases and diabetes . The increased consumption of roughage also makes a positive contribution to this . In addition to nutrition, the fact that many people who eat more consciously have a healthier lifestyle overall also plays a role.
Watch out for proteins
Protein from animal sources can be better utilized by the body than from plant sources. However, the right combination can compensate for this shortcoming. Favorable partners are eggs and potatoes, cow’s milk and wheat or potatoes as well as beans and corn. The protein supply can be problematic for vegans, especially for children and when breastfeeding. Because in these phases of life, the protein requirement is higher than normal.
Critical for vegans Vegans
have to deal intensively with healthy nutrition, especially for the supply of micronutrients. This is because some vitamins and minerals are only found in sufficient quantities in foods of animal origin. Vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products, on the other hand, usually have nothing to worry about. The supply of vitamin B12 , vitamin D , calcium and iodine is particularly critical for vegans . It makes sense to take appropriate dietary supplements, preferably after consulting a doctor. Foods such as fortified soy milk may also be suitable.
Iron is absorbed more poorly by the body from plant foods than from animal foods. However, vitamin C (e.g. in orange juice) can increase utilization. Vegans in particular have low iron levels, because women have a higher iron requirement due to menstruation.
Children and pregnant women: It’s better not to be vegan
Healthy adults don’t need to fear a shortage of vegetarian or vegan food if they choose the food wisely. However, nutritionists do not recommend vegan food for infants, small children, pregnant and breastfeeding women. In these sensitive phases, the risk of not being adequately supplied with all the important nutrients increases.
Also Read: Plant-Based Vs Vegan: What’s The Difference?