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Question
Posted by: bunnyhugger | 2004/02/09

Vegan diet

Diet Doc,

I was a vegetarian for almost 5 years, & for some silly reason I started eating meat again! I would like to go back to my "healthy ways", but this time excluding all animal products from my diet, including meat, fish, dairy & eggs. There are many substitutes on the market. I am not doing it for health reasons only as I feel very strongly about environmental & animal rights issues.

My question is: what is your views on this type of lifestyle Doc? Is it healthy or not? I plan on still eating a wide variety of foods such as grains, proteins, fruits & veggies. Is there anything specific I should keep in mind? Am I doing my body more harm than good? And thanks for your good advice, I am an avid reader!

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDietDoc

Dear Bunny
Thank you for your kind words. The problems with eating only foods derived from plants is that such vegan diets are deficient in the following: some of the essential amino acids which are mainly found in proteins derived from animals - so give thought to still using milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs if at all possible (i.e. a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet); iron, zinc, selenium, and calcium - this can cause iron-deficiency anaemia and hair loss, osteoporosis, and lowered immunity; vit B12 - which causes pernicious anaemia; omega-3 fatty acids - which can lower immunity. If you are set on eating a vegan diet then you need to take the following supplements on a daily basis: 1) an amino acid supplement 2) a complete vitamin and mineral supplement such as Supradyn Forte (for the iron) 3) Calcium Sandoz 500 mg a day for the calcium 4) Salmon oil capsules to obtain EPA and DHA (omega-3). It may also be a good idea to have blood tests done on a 6-monthly basis to check your calcium, iron, zinc, and B12 levels. So do consider rather using a Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet instead.
Take great care
DietDoc

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