The Vegan Trend
In recent years, the number of people who have decided to adopt a diet that reduces or eliminates meat consumption has increased dramatically. This is particularly the case for veganism, which is driven by ethical, environmental and nutritional motivations. Below is a focus on this increasingly popular topic, and on the nutritional considerations it involves.
VEGANISM VERSUS VEGETARIANISM
There are two main exclusion regimes that favor a plant-based diet:
- Veganism, which excludes all animal products. Veganism is not just about food, it’s about lifestyle. In addition to following a vegan diet, vegans refuse to use products that induce animal exploitation such as silk, honey or leather.
- The vegetarian diet, which excludes meat and fish but allows the consumption of animal products such as cheese or eggs.
But it is important to watch out for possible deficiencies.
THE DIETICIAN’S WORD
Some nutrients are mainly provided by food of animal origin; vegans may therefore have to monitor their nutritional status and pay attention to certain deficiencies:1
- Vitamin B12: Essential to our cardiovascular health, it is mainly present in products of animal origin. A supplement may thus be considered for those who need one. Many food supplements are available in pharmacies, on the internet, in organic shops, etc.
- Iodine: This is mainly provided by dairy and marine products. To maintain appropriate intakes, people on a vegan diet may find iodine in seaweed, for example. It can be eaten as a salad or as a side dish, like Salicornia.
- Omega 3: mainly found in fatty fish, but not only! Some plant products can also provide the amount of omega 3 needed by the body. Some algae, avocado, rapeseed oil or flax can be a good source. A little tip about flax seeds: they are difficult to digest, so remember to cut or crush them in order to weaken the seed before consumption.
Contrary to popular belief, calcium intake is not a problem for vegans. This mineral is commonly found in products of plant origin. However, beware of vegetable drinks consumed as a milk substitute, as they are sometimes rich in sugars. The same brand may have two different products, one with and the other without added sugars.
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask for help from a dietetic professional! Contrary to what you might think, the vegan diet is very diversified: there are many balanced recipes available to you.