There seems to be a growing interest in the vegan diet, a way of eating where no food from animal sources is eaten – no beef, no foul, no dairy, no eggs, no fish, no pork. Some people choose this pattern of eating for health, some for philosophical reasons, but regardless there remains a lot of misconception about the vegan diet, and it all starts with this question:
“Can you really be healthy and be vegan?”
The answer is – yes.
The research is quite clear that eating patterns emphasizing vegetables and fruits represent the healthiest ways to eat, with a lesser incidence of a host of chronic illnesses, many of them related to aging.
The next question typically is, ‘But how do you get your protein?”
It’s actually relatively easy to get enough protein in your diet, vegan or otherwise, to support good health. As a vegan, however, you simply have to expend a little extra effort to be sure you are eating plant-based proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts, whole grains and soy products on a regular basis. Pretty easy, really.
But vegans do have to be careful in at least one other aspect – their diets are deficient in a number of important nutrients, including:
and Vitamin D
So people following a vegan diet must be sure to supplement their diets with at least these nutrients.
The best way to go if you’re thinking about trying a vegan pattern of eating? Meet with a good nutritionist who can 1) help design your healthy vegan diet, and 2) offer good recommendations regarding proper use of dietary supplements.
Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more vegan options showing up on store shelves – it can be a very good way to support good health, a way that is growing in popularity.
Dr. Russell Greenfield
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