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Is Vegan Diet Really Healthy?

For the last couple of years, veganism remains at the height of every dietary debate. The “sustainability trend” is bringing about converts by the hundreds every passing day. While the intentions are pure, however, veganism can cause some long term damages to your health.

As the dietary approach garners popularity, many prominent experts continue voicing their concerns over the eradication of animal-based products in consumption practices.

Deposit Photos | Vegan burgers with beans and vegetables served with spinach

Who Are These Experts?

Back in 2017, Professor of Paediatric Nutrition, Dr. Mary Fewtrell, addressed the  European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition with concerns over the repercussions a young infant may face if subjected to a purely vegan diet, which includes irreversible cognitive damage.

Two years later, Dr. Emma Derbyshire, a public health nutritionist, warned that a strictly vegan diet could become the cause of a choline crisis. Writing in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention, and Health Journal, she highlighted the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, choline, and vitamin B-12 in key stages such as fetal development, brain development, and overall health. She warned that the health of the future generation is at terrible risk if such trends continue gaining popularity.


What Are The Risks?

As mentioned, eliminating animal-based products from the diet deprive the body of certain essential nutrients, which are as follows:

1. Essential Fatty Acids

The exclusion of certain acids that your body can’t produce itself, such as omega-3 fatty acids, leaves the brain vulnerable. A study consisting of 48000 individuals who were followed for 18 years found that chances of stroke increase by up to 20% when consuming a plant-based diet. Although a plant-based omega-3 exists, known as the ALA, it is pretty inefficient against the actual nutrient. For a deeper understanding, imagine a house with bricks to make up its walls. Now, replace those bricks with polystyrene. Does the job but, can it promise support through tough times? This is the main difference between omega-3 fatty acids and ALA.

2. Vitamin B-12

Experts reveal that Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient for brain health and nerve function. According to research carried out by dietitian Sophie Medlin, B-12 deficiency is a reality among 50% of vegans unless they opt for supplements.

The risk of deficiency is even more severe for infants and children, as it can cause seizures, developmental delay, brain atrophy, intellectual disability, and failure to thrive. Vitamin B-12 is another nutrient that the body cannot produce and is found in animal-based products such as poultry, fish, meat, dairy, eggs, and yeast.

Deficiency of other nutrients, such as amino acids, choline, Vitamin D, calcium, and iodine can also cause brain-related damages in an animal-product deprived body.

3. Iron

Lastly, iron is essential for healthy blood cells. Iron from animal products is much easier for the body to absorb than from plant products; therefore, a vegan body is severely iron-deficient. Young ones with an iron deficiency, especially, face a harder time learning as their blood cells are unable to produce energy.

Deposit Photos | A balanced diet is essential to a healthy body and brain

Bottom Line

People world over are charging headfirst into veganism, with an intention to save the earth but, without realizing the consequences and understanding the implications with such a severe diet change. If you’re a vegan or are thinking of switching diets, be sure to consult an expert on how you can meet daily nutrient requirements without animal products.

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