Welcome to the Health section of our Learn page!
Whether you’ve got questions about veganism, or you’re a vegan looking for a great resource to point your family & friends towards – you’ve come to the right place.
This is an FAQ page to help tackle the health discussions surrounding a vegan diet.
This is possibly the #1 most commonly asked question by non-vegans.
Protein is a vital part of the human diet, and it’s a lot easier to come by than people think. Doctors very rarely see cases of any people with a protein deficiency. There are plenty of vegan protein sources such as lentils, peas, tempeh, tofu, nut butters, chickpeas, black beans, pumpkin seeds, mycoproteins, grains and many more.
In some cases, there is even more protein in your veggie option than meat itself! Check out this resource from Eating Well.
A misconception about a vegan diet is that it doesn’t provide you with enough nutrients to meet your fitness goals. This is mostly due to the myths around protein, which we have previously covered in this FAQ page.
Many are under the impression that plant proteins are incomplete, and that animal proteins provide optimal muscle-building qualities. This belief can be traced back to wide-scale marketing efforts from food brands.
Just take a look at the cover for Esquire’s ‘Eat Like A Man’ cookbook:
More and more athletes are switching to a plant-based diet, and many vegans have superseded expectations in their sporting field. Check out this must see documentary on plant-based fitness.
Although we commonly associate red meat with iron, there is no correlation with veganism and anemia (iron deficiency). Those who have a diet consisting of mostly plant-based whole foods get more than their RDA of iron. Even vegan junk food is often fortified with the stuff. Iron is found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and beans, to name but a few.
Vegans often take in high levels of vitamin C due to the nature of plant-based foods. Research has found that iron absorption into the bloodstream is higher when paired with a healthy intake of vitamin C.
B12 is synthesised by bacteria, meaning it only exists in areas of bacterial growth. Our ancestors would have eaten dirt & soil with their vegetables and that’s where B12 is found. We’re not able to do this, because we need to wash our vegetables to remove animal manure and pesticides.
Many people are unaware that the B12 found in animal products is no longer natural. Heavy antibiotic use kills B12 producing bacteria in the guts of farm animals. Read this resource for more info.
Plant-based B12 sources include:
- A B12 supplement in tablet form
- Engevita (nutritional yeast flakes you can add to your cooking)
- Fortified plant milks and cereals
Everyone’s at risk of being deficient in nutrients such as B12. The most effective and economical way to get extra nutrients is through a supplement.
It’s a commonly held belief that omegas must be obtained through fish oils, by taking a cod liver oil supplement, for example.
However, there are plenty of other ways to obtain omegas, such as by eating walnuts, black beans, kidney beans, wild rice and edamame, to name but a few.
Despite fish often being labelled as a ‘health food’, our fish is littered with micro-plastics from the ocean, mercury, dioxins and lots of other nasties. Plus, we find extremely high levels of cholesterol in, not only fish, but all animal products.
The best way to get vitamin D is through good old fashioned sunshine…
Although there are sources of vitamin D in both animal products and plant products, after sunlight, it is most efficiently absorbed through a supplement format.
It is worth noting that a number of non-vegans are deficient in this vitamin, particularly in countries with less sunlight. Make sure you spend at least 20 minutes outside every day and always wear sunscreen (even when it’s cloudy).
Animal products do provide sources of iodine, however the best sources of iodine are sea plants! We’re talking about seaweed or tulse.
Iodine deficiency is known to the WHO as a potential concern for everyone, and so they have published guidelines on fortifying salt with iodine to lessen the risk of widespread deficiency.
Due to high levels of salt consumption also being a potential health issue, it’s advisable to incorporate seaweed into your diet. If you really can’t stand the taste, do make sure you take supplement containing iodine or buy fortified nut milks & cereals.
The WHO has classified processed meat as a Group 1 Carcinogen. Many people seem to believe that less processed (organic) meat, is less carcinogenic and therefore ‘healthy’.
A study published in 2017 has proven that this is simply not true. Samples of organic and non-organic meat were compared, to reveal that consumption of organic meat does not diminish the carcinogenic potential associated with the intake of ‘polluted’ meats.
We found out about this study by visiting NutritionFacts.org
A lot of food items and even non-food items have been associated with causing cancer, but wouldn’t you want to give your body the best chance by reducing the risk?
We know for certain that animal products have a strong correlation with cancer, and so this is yet another reason to avoid consuming them. For more information, read this 2005 study that explored the link between men who consume dairy and have higher rates of prostate cancer.
Calcium is found in many plants, and this is where animals get their calcium from too!
Although dairy does contain calcium, it also contains plenty of undesirables like saturated fat. Watch Dr Gregor’s excellent guide for more information.
Plant-based calcium can be found in fortified foods such as plant milk, green cruciferous vegetables such as kale & broccoli, tofu, pulses, almonds, avocados, tomatoes, chickpeas, chia seeds and plenty more.
Absolutely! There is no reason why you can’t raise your children on a vegan diet. A lot of the fears around this are created and fueled by the mass media publications who profit off scaremongering. These same media companies are often funded by the animal agriculture industry.
A large portion of the British public believe you can’t raise a child on a vegan diet, despite solid peer-reviewed science proving that not only can you survive on it, but a non-vegan diet is actually detrimental to our health and our children’s health too.
Many Registered Dietitians are even going vegan and raising vegan children. Why not read Nutritious Vida’s perspective.
Yes, but no more so than any diet. We should all be planning our diets, whether vegan or not, as anyone can have deficiencies.
We often see negative headlines about people with serious health problems due to their vegan diet. What these articles fail to explain is that these are always cases where the person mentioned didn’t even attempt to eat a balanced and varied diet. These articles ignore the millions of vegans who are not only healthy, but actually thrive on their plant-based diets.
We recommend watching this resource. Click here to check it out!