Diet Focus - The Vegan Diet

This is a personal subject for me, because my daughter, Becky, has been thinking about becoming a vegetarian for a while. Recent tests have shown that she cannot properly digest animal protein and is lactose intolerant, and so she has decided to become a vegan.  This means she has stopped eating meat, fish and dairy.  Like many vegans, her reasons are partly moral ones.  It feels uncomfortable to see the animals in the fields where we live each day, coo over the lambs and aah over the calves, and then sit down to eat roast lamb or minced beef.

Becoming a vegan is also better for the environment.  It has been claimed that if everyone became vegan, there would be enough food to feed everyone globally. 

Much has been claimed for the health benefits of a vegan diet.  It is said to lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and cancer and so lead to a longer, healthier life.  Some have claimed though, that vegans tend to avoid other “health robbers” such as sugar- leading to a so-called “healthy bias” in the data. There does seem, however, many good reasons to cut our meat intake- if only the cost of good-quality, organic meats.

The downside of a vegan diet is that it is more difficult to absorb iron from plant sources. The amount of iron absorbed can be increased by having a vitamin C source at the same time- for instance, you can absorb more iron from lentils or beans if you have an orange at the same meal.  The vegan diet may also be deficient in B12 which is mainly obtained from animal sources, so a supplement may be needed.  Deficiency in either of these nutrients will lead to anaemia. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting more about getting your nutrients on a vegan diet, along with some delicious vegan recipes.

A vegan diet however may not be for everyone- in terms of diets, I do not believe there is ‘one size fits all’. I’ll be talking more about tailoring your diet to you in future posts. In the meantime, happy eating!  


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