Whether it is for belief, for sympathy with animals or for following the example of many celebrities, not eating meat or foods of animal origin (vegan diet) is a trend that has been increased during the last years.
The Rise of Part-Time Vegans
In the United Kingdom, for example, in the last decade, the number of people who have become vegans has increased by 350%. This is something that is alarming some experts, especially when adopting this diet by fashion.
A vegan diet is one that does not include animal products such as meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, and honey. Many advocates say that diet has a number of health benefits. However, dietitians argue that the person risks not consuming enough proteins, vitamins and important nutrients.
Vitamin B-12 and Proteins
Vitamin B-12 is essential for healthy red blood cells and may help prevent anemia. The problem is that it is only found in products of animal origin. For a vegan to survive for a long time, since lack of vitamin B-12 takes time to manifest it, you must take supplements of this vitamin. Protein helps build and maintain healthy muscles, organs, skin, and bones.
If you only consume vegetables, you should consume a variety of certain dairy products like nuts, seeds, soy products, legumes, lentils and whole grains to get enough protein.
Protein is a key element in the diet of a person that to achieve it in a vegan diet it is necessary to make mixtures of different foods – cereals with legumes for example – to obtain quality proteins.
Iron, Calcium and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Iron is vital for energy and for a proper functioning of red blood cells. But, it is difficult to consume enough iron with a vegetarian diet, since from meat products it is absorbed more easily than from vegetable sources.
Therefore, a vegetarian should eat many dark leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans or peas, lentils, fortified cereals and dried fruits. To increase the absorption of iron, you must also eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and citrus.
On the other hand, calcium is important for strong teeth and bones, so if you give up dairy products, you need a strong milk substitute such as soy milk or fruit juices, cereals or tofu with added calcium.
Green vegetables like broccoli and kale also contain calcium, but building on dark green vegetables alone to get calcium can run the risk of having deficiencies of this nutrient.
Meanwhile, Omega-3 fatty acids help promote healthy tissue, eye and brain development, and cardiovascular health. If you do not eat fish or eggs, you can try to find products enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids, but these can be rare and expensive, so consider a dietary supplement.