vegan diet

WHAT IS A VEGAN DIET?

A vegan diet consists of vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits and other foods made only from plants. Many argue that we should all be making a conscious effort to reduce consumption of animals and animal products for the sake of our health and for the planet.. Vegan or not, a diet high in fruit and veg, and plant-based food is a good starting point for a healthy lifestyle.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF GOING VEGAN?

The answer depends as much on what you eat as with any other diet. Someone living purely on crisps or chips, for example, would be technically following a vegan diet, but it would in no way be healthy.

Research has shown that the average vegan diet is higher in vitamin C and fibre, and lower in saturated fat than one containing meat, all of which are beneficial. In addition, statistics show that vegans have a lower BMI (height-to-weight ratio) than meat eaters – in other words, they are skinnier.

A diet without any meat or dairy products is likely to contain a lot less saturated fat, which is related to increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. We also know that fat contains more calories per gram than other foods, and so vegans may consume fewer calories as a result. Finally, a vegan diet is generally thought to contain more cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds than a non-vegan diet.

HOWEVER…

By eliminating food groups from your diet, you are potentially at risk of missing out on certain micronutrients. By avoiding animal and animal products, a vegan diet is at risk of being low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, if you follow a vegan diet it is essential that you get enough of these nutrients through specific vegan food sources – and may even need to take additional supplements.

When selecting dairy-free alternatives, make sure you are choosing the fortified options, e.g. Alpro unsweetened soya milk is a source of calcium, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12 (which are found in milk), and also vitamin D. Humous is a good choice – the tahini (sesame seed paste) in the recipe is a good source of calcium, zinc and iron, which are all micronutrients hard to get a hold of on a vegan diet.

vegan diet hummus

MISCONCEPTIONS

Many people see the word vegan on the label and they assume it must be super healthy – wrong. Even if it’s vegan, it’s just as important to look at the ingredients list and the nutrition information to see how much fat, sugar and salt something contains. Coconut oil is hugely popular in vegan baking and its health benefits are shouted about all over the place. However, it’s also worth noting that coconut oil is high in saturated fat. This is not to say you shouldn’t use it or it can’t be healthy in small amounts, but too much of it could be detrimental.

We should all be reducing meat consumption and eating more plant based foods…

According to the “eatwell” plate, you will see that less than 15% of our diet should be made up of protein.  Try and moderate intake of both red and white meat and replace with plant-based proteins like beans and pulses, tofu, nuts and seeds, as well as having a few meat-free days a week.

If you do decide to follow a vegan diet, apply all the same principles that you would to any healthy balanced diet: eat plenty of different fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses, and make sure you are aware of the nutrients you may be at risk of developing a deficiency for. For information about a healthy balanced diet, please see Jamie’s ten tips to a healthy lifestyle, and check out our gorgeous collection of  healthy recipes.


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dietary, vegan, vegetarian

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  • Pek Har Yee

    I am vegetarian since 2000 and I did it entirely for animal rights. I turned vegan recently as soon as I learned about the cruelty towards cows and chickens for milk and eggs.We all have different reasons to justify what we eat, meat eaters have their own but I just wish that we minimize unnecessary sufferings (we don’t need dairy in everything we eat) and we should not waste animals’ sacrifices that they did not consent. Peace out.

  • Danae

    For me it was the converse: I did it for ethical reasons. Then I learned about the environmental. The health benefits are just added.

  • Matt

    As a Vegan, I think this is a very fair and honest wrap up. Too often vegans want to say that veganism is the solution to everything, and this passage I think says it correctly: ‘if someone chooses to go vegan they are more likely to care about what they are eating and therefore are more likely to educate themselves on the types of foods they should and should not be eating.’

    Especially now that there are more and more vegan options, there are more unhealthy vegan options, like fast food, desserts, etc… but yeah, totally easy to be vegan and easier to be healthy as a vegan in my opinion (but you must get your B12).

  • Aaron Lee

    Five from five vegans that I know do it only for ethical reasons. One of the five *believes* it is healthier, but that is not a driver of her behaviour….her veganism is solely the ethical aspect.

    Either way, nobody can judge how many people do it for ethical reasons, based on “who they know”.

    But the term “vegan” was coined to describe a lifestyle based on ethical choices, not health choices.

    Also, if you look through every vegan group on Facebook, I think you will find from the conversations that the majority of participants chose the lifestyle for ethical reasons.

  • Marta Wetmore

    I think that in the last few years there has been a movement to separate vegan and plant based lifestyles. The overlap of the lifestyles has lead to confusion, necessitating the distinct terms. Plant-based individuals eat a vegan diet, but focus on the health aspects instead of the ethics. They may use fur and leather, etc… Vegans often ignore the nutrition aspect (coke and french fries are vegan…but certainly not healthy). Though both eat the same foods, they certainly have different conversations at the table, lol!

  • Marco Temes

    I am a vegan, well not yet, although i am vegetarian, and it has been because the animals , simple as, i must say , i feel better, physically, mentally and spiritually, look forward to became vegan.!

  • Amie Meeks

    I’d rather get my vitamins and minerals from the source not from a pharmaceutical company. I don’t want man made products in my system: pill forms of minerals and vitamins or processed foods ( soy which is linked to sooooo many health issues) I eat meat, I eat veggies. I get both from either my own garden which I only use water ( no miracle grow, no pesticides or herbicides) I get my meat either from the farmers market or I only buy meat that comes from compassion farms. I feel that some vegans are very aggressive and it has become more like a religion than a lifestyle.

  • Amie Meeks

    Meat and dairy are NOT unhealthy. If you are getting unprocessed meat and antibiotic free dairy. It is great for your health. We have been eating like that for thousands of years. Our bodies are designed to digest these things. You have to put man made chemicals into your system to get all the vitamins and minerals you lack because of a vegan diet…Yep that sounds healthy o.O If you were having issues with skin and stuff you are just hiding the issue by cutting out foods instead of getting to the root of the problem.

  • Amie Meeks

    Nothing you have to take a pill or get injections. soy is horrible for you. Causes heart issues and cancer.

  • Rebecca Vee

    You’re mistaken. Our bodies might have adapted, but they certainly were NOT designed to digest these things. If you follow anthropology or biology at all, you’ll see that everything from our gut flora, to stomach enzymes, and even our teeth show that we are not designed to digest these things, nor have we been eating them for “thousands of years.” Historically speaking, a diet consisting of meat and dairy has only been a part of a Western diet for the past 150 to 200 years, at best. In many parts of the world, these foods are not consumed and in places where you find an increase in a Westernized diet, you also find an increase in diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart disease. The numbers don’t lie. Neither does science. But the USDA does.

  • Rebecca Vee

    The diet does not require supplements. I guarantee most vegans following a Whole Foods, plant-based diet are not deficient or lacking in anything. I have had routine blood work every year for my insurance. They test it all. Year after year, my bloodworm is impeccable. Same with my daughter and husband. All vegan. Do your research and fact check before you post nonsense.

  • Rebecca Vee

    Then you were nit doing it right. You don’t have to be cautious. You don’t have to supplement really. Just follow a whole foods plant based diet.

  • Rebecca Vee

    Realkt, no oil is healthy. Coconut oil has many benefits for you, but it is not healthy, nor is it a whole food.

  • Rebecca Vee

    It’s not drivel. It’s absolute truth. High carb from natural plant sources. Not processed carbs. That is not debatable.

  • Rebecca Vee

    I’ve read peer reviewed articles and journals that state the opposite, Little Owl.

  • Rebecca Vee

    I would love to hear the results of your lab work, oh dismisser of qualitative data.

  • Jonathan Stinson

    Not every medication is great for the health, I agree on that. But vitamins are just vitamins, they are pills right, but they are just vitamins, and it’s the same as eating food containing those vitamins.

    The article concludes that vegan diet are not especially healthier. That’s the research on nutrition accomplished by those who go vegan that makes vegans more educated and therefore healthier. In other words, vegan diet = omni diet if you are careful about what you eat, what are you even arguing about ?

    Furthermore, most vegans go vegan because they don’t want animals to suffer, not especially for their health, so that’s it. Whether you want to go vegan to support animals or think it’s too difficult and time-consuming of a decision (having to take B12 pills, make research not to be deficient, etc) is up to personal choice.

    What I can assure you is that humans are not made to eat meat, and can very well be healthy, and even healthy athletes without it. We do eat a lot of meat and diary products in western countries by tradition, but it’s not the case everywhere in the world, it’s just TRADITION, and you always have the choice.

    Now neither choice is bad. One is just better for the planet and the animals, but requires some time discovering new ingredients and recipes, and putting up new habits. While the other one is easier since most of us were raised this way.

    Now you seemed to care about those issues since I’ve seen in your comments that you care about the provenance of your meat, and that’s very respectable.

    And don’t pay attention to agressive vegans. Every ideology has its own fanatics, and it’s easy to understand why so many vegans are really involved in their fight for animals since most people don’t even care and eat whatever is given to them.

    Cheers.

  • Paul Waite

    talk about fact checking!!! we have been drinking milk from Cows in Western society for over 7000 years and humans have been eating meat for over 2 million.

  • I would also note you can become a nutritionist through a 6 week course. A dietitian, a science degree, takes three years. I would be cautious putting too much weight into the thoughts of nutritionists. With all due respect.

  • Amie Meeks

    So explain why we don’t have multiple stomach like other plant eaters, or teeth designed like other plant eaters? We are omnivores we eat both plant and meat.

  • Grace

    Amie, the American Cancer Society classifies soy as a healthy food. The studies done on soy and isoflavones were done on rats, not humans. Human process these isoflavones differently and they are not bad for our body.

  • Grace

    Meat and dairy ARE unhealthy. The American Heart Association and many other groups associate the vegan diet with less risk of disease and death. Dairy is full of cholesterol and saturated fat, and our bodies do not know how to correctly process lactose, as we stop producing lactase after being weaned off of our mother’s breast milk. Meat has been proven to be carcinogenic and unhealthy numerous times. It is completely unhealthy and there are much better sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals out there.

  • michael

    I also didn’t like those sentences
    “A vegan diet is naturally low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. Therefore, if you follow a vegan diet it is essential that you get enough of these nutrients through specific vegan food sources – and may even need to take additional supplements. ”

    Malnutrition is probably as common, or more common, in non-vegan diets. Most Westerners die from diseases caused by the Western high meat diet: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. A large percentage of cases would not occur on a vegan diet. While mentioning that a vegan diet needs to be careful about some things, it should be mentioned that a non-vegan diet has great dangers, and this is inherent in the saturated fat and carcinogens contained in a meat eating diet. Perhaps naturally raised meat is somewhat better, but I haven’t seen convincing data yet. If it weren’t tradition, a meat eating diet would probably be seen as possibly dangerous.
    Calcium: yes the diet should be balanced, this one is more abundant in dairy. However dairy has other health problems, and not only the fat. Vitamin D can be lacking in either diet, and supplementation may be best for anyone on either diet type. Studies haven’t actually found more iron deficiency in plant based diets, and high iron levels, especially from heme iron, is associated with more heart disease risk and some cancers. B12: perhaps we no longer eat as much dirt, bugs, and feces as we evolved to, so a cheap pill once or twice a week can take care of that. Omega 3’s: I think this may be so necessary to correct the lipid balance in a meat /dairy /processed oil based diet. If fat sources were only unprocessed vegetables and nuts, I don’t know if we’d need more omega 3 fat to balance out the other lipids.

  • whyteball26

    Article was good up until the fourth paragraph until nonsense and generalisation began. It makes no difference a persons classification ( paleo, vegan etc) it always comes back to how and what the person eats. By the way, hospitals aren’t full of vegans and vegetarians – just thought i would let you know.

  • Matthew Kirwan

    Doubling down on drivel is still drivel, imbecile.

  • I think you should check your facts. Running on the evidence of one is not good science.

    “A is only found in animal foods. It’s a myth that plant foods are high in this nutrient. Instead, fruits and vegetables are high in a family of phytonutrients called carotenoids. The body must synthesise three of these compounds—beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin—to vitamin A. Despite in humans, this conversion is quite inefficient, with about 10 to 20 molecules of carotenoids needed to make one of vitamin A. Alternatively, 80% or more bio-available vitamin A from animal sources is absorbed, whereby only 3% or less of carotenoids from plant foods are absorbed.”

    A vegan diet will be low in Vitamin A, it is basic nutritional science and supported by our understanding of biological synthesis processes.

    Compounding the problem of efficient A synthesis is according to a study, in the vicinity of 45% of adults are unable to convert carotenoids into Retinol A

    In conclusion, obtaining enough Vitamin A in a vegan diet is either extremely difficult to downright impossible without supplementing the diet with Vitamin A supplements.

    A vegan diet is low in Vitamin B-12 – for children subjected to parents dietary decisions this can have a real impact on brain development.

    Recent studies highlighted that in the vicinity of 68% of vegetarians and 83% of vegans are deficient in B12 compared to 5% of omnivores. Now I am all for people to have the right to make their own decisions about their health and diet; but what happens when children are forced to partake of their parent’s beliefs?

    One of the biggest problems with nutrient deficiencies when a child is it can impede crucial processes. Children brought up on a vegan diet showed deficiencies in B12 many years after animal products were introduced to their diet. One of the studies showed a worrying impact on cognitive ability.

    Another concern is many vegan websites say it is perfectly possible to gain the dietary intake of B12 through fortified cereal and fermented plant products, for instance, brewers yeast, fermented soy and spirulina. They do not contain a true B12 rather a B12 analogue called cobamides. Adding insult to injury, these analogues block the intake of, and increase the need for true B12. [3]

    In short, it is virtually impossible to gain enough B12 from a vegan diet without the need of dietary supplements. The downside of lacking B12 is profound and research highlighting early learning disorders in children of vegan parents is very worrying.

  • Jimmy Bell

    The problem with soy in the US is that the unfermented kind is infested with GMOs so the risks unfortunately outweigh the rewards. That’s where the hearrt issues and cancer come from.

  • vegan activist

    vegan diet is non-GMO, when most vegans get their soy products they check for non-GMO.

  • philipp

    The weakness in your argument lies in the fact, that no one buys 100% organic animal products. There is the tasty burger on the go, the restaurant, the party, even the super market with cheaper meat and milk products… So organic may be healthy, but vegan would be healthier, cause people buy organic once in a while, but for example meat is so expensive organic that no one buys that regular to get their 100+ grams of meat each day that every doctor recomends (like in the 60s the package of cigarettes a day)

  • philipp

    The weakness in your argument lies in the fact, that no one buys 100% organic animal products. There is the tasty burger on the go, the restaurant, the party, even the super market with cheaper meat and milk products… So organic may be healthy, but vegan would be healthier, cause people buy organic once in a while, but for example meat is so expensive organic that no one buys that regular to get their 100+ grams of meat each day that every doctor recomends (like in the 60s the package of cigarettes a day)

  • philipp

    So the beef fed with a lot more soy than you could ever eat must be super-heart-issue-and-cancer-maker.

  • philipp

    So the beef fed with a lot more soy than you could ever eat must be super-heart-issue-and-cancer-maker.

  • John Spooks

    Actually not true, soy is bad for males for examples due to the presence of a female like hormone in soy. So where do you get that information? Soy is not that healthy at all.

  • slow_learner

    Totally careless!

  • Stranger Things Have Happened

    Those people are following plant-based diets. They’re not vegan, though it seems fashionable to use the word now. Plant-based diets are great, but there’s more to veganism and the definition shouldn’t be confused or diluted. Veganism is first and foremost about animal justice. It doesn’t have anything to do with health. If those people still fund animal exploitation in any way (products with animal ingredients and/or tested on animals); animals in entertainment (zoos, circuses, film, animal racing etc.); clothing (leather, wool, silk, fur); animals in the pet trade… that’s the opposite of veganism. People need to know the difference so that they know where to improve, instead of thinking that “diet” is the beginning and the end of it.

  • Stranger Things Have Happened

    Exactly Marta ☺

  • RUTH

    I cannot see where it warns of meat dairy and eggs being bad for health. Why? I have been a healthy vegan for almost 5 years now and I’m nearly 62. I make sure I educate myself in food nutrition, before I became vegan my health was poor due to a poor diet. The curriculum in education for primary children about animal exploits by the big influential profit making industries such as the meat dairy and eggs should be introduced in all schools. Children deserve the right to know the truth about the evil and barbaric facts that are hidden from us. I wish that I’d have been taught animal ethics at school. Animals are here for their own reasons just like us they are NOT here for our selfish pleasures and greed.

  • RUTH

    John. You can get B12 in yeast flaxes and yeast extracts. Natural B12 comes from the soil in the earth.

  • Claudette Frid

    OMG Grace are you seriously saying Soy causes heart issues and cancer??? Lol lol lol lol

  • John

    We don’t really get much nutritional value from dairy products, milk is designed for baby calves. It’s baby calf growth milk, not human growth milk. If you do your research you’ll find out that our bodies really don’t get much nutritional value from milk, not even it’s calcium. We aren’t baby calves so how can we get it’s benefits? The only thing we’ll probably get from it is a big gut for a stomach.
    Plus we’re in 2017, why do we still thing like cavemen? We all know the animals are slaughtered in a none humane way, the human body doesn’t need animal products to live. Yet some people’s stomachs are stronger than their minds.

  • John

    Soy is 10x healthier than milk, do your research first

  • John

    You mean the hormones injected into cows? That then get milked and drank by other men? Which is worse?

  • John

    Vegan products are mostly GMO free, never seen something that’s vegan that doesn’t say GMO free

  • John Spooks

    you do realize it is different, right? The hormones cows get (if they get any) are mostly lost during the proces from cow to meat. The soy however contains hormones itself (produces itself) and you do eat a large part of that.
    BTW: I am not defending meat in general here, I am just saying that soy is not that healthy as always stated. Especially as a male you have to be attentive on not eating too much of it.

  • Sarah

    I am tired of hearing how it’s harder to get certain nutrients from a vegan diet. I agree with B12, but there are just as many meat eaters who are B12 deficient. It’s extremely common! In terms of iron, I have been vegan for 3 years, and no issues. Yet I know several people who eat meat that are anemic! Calcium thing is BS. Osteoporosis doesn’t exist in third world countries where meat and dairy are rarely or never consumed. Only exist in countries where animal products are a large part of peoples diets. The only proper source of vitamin D is from the sun. Eat leafy greens and sit out in the sun and you are fine! High levels of zinc are in nuts; yet another problem solved! Lastly, flax seeds have high levels or omega 3 fatty acids and so do avocados. Both foods are readily available, and flax is used as an egg substitute for vegan baking, so easy to fit into your diet. Sick of this ridiculous misinformation, especially from supposed “professionals”!

  • Legal Help

    FALSE. ANIMALS that the majority of animal eaters consume get their protein FROM plants, as a matter of FACT all protein comes from plants. Animal milk depletes human bones of calcium versus adding calcium to bones this is why the US, the biggest consumer of cows milk in the WOLRD has the highest percentage of osteoporosis. You CAN get adequate nutrients from a plant based diet. Most Americans animal eaters and non lack Vitamin D.

  • Legal Help

    INCORRECT eating dead ANIMALS and animal milk IS unhealthy, unnatural, and unnecessary. Research.

  • Dale Miller

    Whether we get it from supplements, soy, or animal products, B12 comes from micro organisms from nutrient rich soil…the earth. Problem is most vegetables we ALL count on comes from nutrient “dead” soil.

  • Sara

    This article is sooooo discourage for people who decide to give a try for a vegan diet. How can you even say that ANIMAL product are better and more healthier safer for us?? You just eat plans, beans everything BUT animal product which we don’t even need. You sound like those other people who are
    sponsored by the government and the big companies who claim that meat and dairy is important to consume. I was always a big fan of this Jamie Oliver website but after reading this article ….

  • Jessica Todd

    Hi John – this is actually not true. On all counts. Hormones are most definitely in the meat that we eat. Soy actually doesn’t contain the hormones you think it does, they contain ones that act a bit like female hormones. In the few studies that have been done there has been no link found between these soy hormones and fertility problems in men. It unfortunately happens to be a story reported in the media and not scientifically backed.

  • NonsensicalVG

    “I guess smoking doesnt cause cancer either it just uppes the risk which means nothing…”
    I’m replying very late, and I’m not exactly trying to be a smartass, but smoking does only increase the risk.

  • John Spooks

    I just checked the literature and you are right. There are only a few documented cases of males having problems due to excessive soy intake. It is indeed a rare side effect and nothing general. You are right!

  • Predator

    What about pesticides that they put in your veggies? what about all the GMO fruits and vegetable? Chemicals to make it grow faster stronger and better. Honestly think people are ruining earth. Vegan or not vegan you should know what you are eating and what impact your leaving on earth. Trying to eat as healthy as you can, and not bashing on either side.

  • Cheryl

    Annie only ruminants have multiple stomachs. Horses and rabbits do not. Our teeth are designed to eat plants, not meat! Do you really think we have teeth like tigers? Our teeth look more like horses or a chimpanzees. Chimps eat mainly a vegan diet.

  • Cheryl

    Well said Grace!

  • Cheryl

    Well written Michael 🙂

  • Cheryl

    I gave up drinking dairy milk at home recently and I have the added bonus of ridding myself of the eczema that used to irritate me on the back of my knee for many years. I wished I had given up so much sooner now.

  • Cheryl

    Most of the vitamins and pills sold in pharmacies are sold to OMNIVORES!!

  • Cheryl

    You should use the reference from where you quoted your text from.

  • Cheryl

    I eat a mostly vegan diet and I have never been shown to be deficient in Vitamin A. My meat eating friends however have been deficient in iron. I have not.

  • Sarah Bradbury

    Microbes in the environment. You ingest them as bacteria on raw foods or in your meat from animals eating plants with the microbes on them. Animals do not produce it. It’s best to take a multivitamin either way you eat.

  • Andrew Love

    One statement I would like to see reconsidered is the one about the increased risks of high cholesterol and heart disease among meat eaters. The statistic is very misleading. Meat eaters who take care of themselves and eat a balanced diet etc do not have an increased risk, but the statistic is often used to promote veganism because it sounds good. People who do not care about their diet eat poorly and do include meat in their diet, and it throws off the statistic. Imagine if we only looked at the health stats of vegans who don’t compensate for the nutrients they are missing by simply cutting out meat. We should look at the statistics of health conscious eaters, and then divide that group into vegans and nonvegans instead to get a better idea of how healthy the diet is. It is much harder to exclude meat from your diet and stay healthy than it is to do the reverse.

  • Michael

    Yet a vegan diet may be healthier than that most Westerners consume. As was pointed out most vegans are more diet conscious, and careful. In America milk and pasta are both supplemented with vitamins because deficiencies were so common. A diet of largely whole plant foods is best, I believe.

  • My brain Cheryl a long with citation to actual studies. You cannot litter these posts with links, it does not pass the filters. (have already tried that)

  • Cheryl

    Your brain isn’t good evidence.

  • Cheryl

    No Amie. There are numerous studies claiming a high meat diet is unhealthy. Most people don’t drink antibiotic free dairy and it’s not just processed meat that is unhealthy. Red Meat wasn’t classified as a Class 2 Carcinogen for nothing. And remember, meateaters are the biggest consumers of vitamins as there are more of them than vegans!

  • subduedjoy

    I was a pescatarian for 15 years and the a vegetarian for 10 years. I also consumed very little if any butter, milk, cheese, eggs, honey, … However, after losing substantial amounts of blood due to an autoimmune digestive disease and having to get a blood transfusion and half a dozen iron IVs, I went back to consuming meat.

    When it comes to consuming animal products, they are not created equal. Fatty fish is very high in good, not bad, fat. Dairy, on the other hand, is pro-inflammatory. Too much red meat can cause heart disease. And processed meats can contain unhealthy ingredients.

    When it comes to consuming plants, they also are not created equal. Grains, pseudo-grains, and legumes are extremely pro-inflammatory. So are refined sugars and processed ingredients.

    I would like to see a comparison of veganism to a diet rich in plant food plus fish. In regard to mercury, I think people are overly worried about it. I had my heavy metal levels checked. While lead and cadmium levels are high, my mercury levels are very low.

    I’m also consuming bone broth soups, which are very easy to digest, extremely low in sugar, and rich in nutrients, especially nutrients I lost with my last colon flareup. There was a period in which my colon was so inflamed that the only thing I could consume was homemade bone broths.

  • subduedjoy

    Actually, plants tend to be low in certain nutrients. That doesn’t mean that you, personally, can’t get those nutrients from a vegan diet. It means that you should be planning your diet to get those nutrients. BTW, even herbivores eat animals. They eat bugs.

  • It is when you have that pesky education that installs an understanding of human biology. Something missing from nutritionists with their six week courses and no understanding of science.

  • Yza Burias

    the only effective way to promote vegan diet is to be vegan yourself.
    your article is not promoting vegan diet at all it confuses people about ethical eating, you need more research ms. “nutritionist
    eating animal can never be a personal choice because another life of a sentient being is involve, theh have the right not be exploited, commodified, and killed. you cannot choose for them

  • Simon Turton

    I am finding the whole discussion around nutrition appears to be opinion based or at odds with varying different studies. I agree with the posts below – B12 deficiency is a concern in the omnivore community as well as vegan, as is calcium iron zinc omegas and so on. Anyone taking an extreme diet will likely need to be well informed on their nutritional needs or receiving advise from a nutritionist. We saw the health problems in the Super Size me movie and equally if someone eats a steak and potatoes everyday I should imagine them else experiencing issues with their blood profiles.
    Let us also not forget that the same nutritionist used to say that we need low fat everything, now its the type of fat – they also used to say we need huge amounts of protein now this is greatly reduced. Clearly our understanding of nutrition is evolving as study upon study is performed.
    Beyond nutrition we then have disease and we now see studies which are pointing towards meat and dairy consumption causing a plethora of problems not to mention links to cancer. The reverse being said on plant consumption seems to indicate good health and the prevention if not the curing of several conditions – tho admittedly I did read something about some links to stomach cancer!
    So in summation are celebrity chefs / nutritionist putting our health at risk by recommending meat consumption at any level. Seems the final answer to this is yet to come out but it would be curious if the people on finding absolute proof of the problems with meat / dairy consumption don’t then end up legally pursuing these said people for compensation. Tread carefully i would say !!

  • Andreea Gherman

    I went vegan with 3 years and almost a month ago (on the 8th of June 2014) and before that, i used to take vitamins and minerals (especially calcium) all the time. I also had severe anemia (very low iron levels), spasmophilia and many more. Before that, i went ovo-lacto-vegetarian in April 2012 and the symptoms toned down (the body was detoxifying from the animal flesh). After that, i went ovo-vegetarian in November 2013 and when i finally seen what horrors are happening in all the animal exploitation industries, i went vegan. Since 8th of June 2014 i haven’t had any problems with the spasmophilia or anything mineral & vitamin-related, unless i drank too much coffee or if i couldn’t eat for many days (i had these problems before, too and they were manifesting way worse). I have stopped taking any pills since January 2013 (at that moment, i still had some spasmophilia symptoms, but not as bad as before). 🙂

  • Susan Cowlishaw

    I’m going Vegan because I’m not happy about the explotation of animals. I am concerned about not getting all the nutrients I need so will be educating myself as much as possible.

  • Julie

    Your going to love this!! I’ve been on a no carb diet for a year!! Lost over 80 lbs!! Then heath went crazy and decided a vegan was the way to go!! Been on it now for 2 weeks. I’m starving!!! I’m constant looking for recipes have gained 2 lbs and am so sad..I really think I look better in my eyes but I’m so scared to gain weight & being so damn hungry all the time!!! Help !! Should I add eggs or just get my self together stop the high carbs ?? No I’m not eating sweets..just a lot of food not a lot of starchy veggies either.

  • nouseforaname

    I stopped reading when you said that a vegan diet is low in calcium and iron etc. You are not a good nutritionist if you don’t know that broccoli has more calcium than milk or that Millet and Quinoa have enough iron and other vitamins. Furthermore, vitamin b12 is STORED for up to months(!!!) which means that you do not need a significant amount with every god damn meal. That said, you can get lots of saturated fat from all kinds of sources such as nuts, seeds, Oils etc. The same applies to protein. You can get just as much protein from a vegan diet. Stop that god damn brainwashing!!!!! Meat is unhealthy period. If you have certain health problems your doctor will tell you to cut out red meat or to not eat diary products (acne patients) and cancer patients are even put on a vegan diet or mostly vegetable based diet. You’re a joke Jamie.

  • nouseforaname

    If meat is not unhealthy why do you have to cook it? Why can you get sick from eating raw meat? A carnivore doesn’t get sick. If meat is healthy why are cancer patients put on a vegetable based or even vegan diet? Why do doctors tell you do avoid red meat or to not eat as much red meat or to avoid it at all cost when you have certain health problems?

    If dairy products are healthy why do many doctors tell acne patients to cut down on them?

    Let’s look at milk. Why does a cow produce milk? To bring up its newborn/calf. There are hormones in it the calf needs to grow. And no it is not because of the calcium content because I’m sorry to break it to you but broccoli has more calcium than milk so you don’t need milk to get your daily calcium intake. When you drink milk or eat products that are made from milk you eat all the hormones from the cow. Why are people lactose intolerant of we are suited for drinking milk? Why do many people get skin problems from eating lots of dairy products?

  • Cristina Carinhas

    I would love to go vegan … but i love sushi so ill go Pescatarian 😛

  • MartinD

    Get help yourself!

  • Heather Leigh

    For the sake of veganism, vegans need to stop denying that a plant based diet is low in micro-nutrients. The more people that start feeling bad on a vegan diet, the more people will shy away from a vegan diet and the more vegans guilt people and make them think that somehow they are doing it wrong, the more alienated people will be. If you have to measure out each bite… is your diet really that simple and easy?

    People are not one size fits all. While I can agree that the majority of human beings would probably be healthy adopting a mostly plant based lifestyle, I realize there are legitimate reasons for why some may not thrive on a vegan diet. From blood disorders, absorption issues, genetics, etc.. It is irresponsible for vegans to make sweeping generalizations as if they are doctors, because what? They watched a few documentaries? Most of the health studies I have read in regard to the vegan diet often compare it to unhealthy Western diets. It is very rare that I find a study that compares it to say a 90% plant based diet or the Mediterranean diet. In fact the only study I found was a reiteration of a study by a vegan doctor with no sources or way to look up the actual study…. But I digress.

    I completely understand the all or nothing attitude when it comes to ethics and animal welfare, but this still does not change that fact that it is not always easy to get every micro-nutrient and depending on your animal product consumption prior to becoming vegan, some may have a hard time. For example, if you had already low stores of B12, you may experience problems with this earlier than a person that ate a lot of animal protein prior to converting to veganism. They may have enough stores to last 5 years.

    You will reduce animal suffering significantly if you can learn to accept that some people are hairless cannabalistic apes and that is just part of their evolution- inspire them to reduce consumption, but let’s not lie and act like it is equally easy to get all the micronutrients in a vegan diet, because it’s possible, but it’s not as easy and for some it may be much harder depending on a variety of factors- age, genetics, overall health, etc.- and rather than denying this, it would be more helpful to acknowledge it and help people to incorporate more plant foods with these micronutrients, but stop denying that animal products are a more potent source in many cases. It’s okay to acknowledge that, even if you never intend to eat and animal product again. Whether we like it or not, animal products often contain higher amounts of nutrients than plants, so you can get adequate nutrition with usually a smaller volume of food. That doesn’t mean you can’t get it with plants, but you need more food. Remember, if everyone ate at least an 80/20 diet, the suffering of animals would not be eliminated, but greatly reduced. Just imagine, people probably eat an 80/20 diet now, but with animal products near the 80 mark.

    On a personal note, I was a vegetarian for more than 30 years of my life and vegan for a few years. As a vegetarian I was healthy, but I often became anemic and suffered from low energy. I have learned recently that I have a hereditary form of anemia, which makes me more susceptible to anemia as well as causes some issues in absorbing certain micronutrients. I have been really into health and nutrition from a young age. 16 years ago, in my early 20s I worked at a vegan restaurant and learned quite a bit about vegan diets, macrobiotic diets and things like this. I am not your standard food consumer I guess, not that I know everything though- just maybe more than the average person. I ate what I thought was a very balanced diet and took supplements. I dabbled with veganism over the years as well, teetering between veg and vegan, occasionally eating some fish here and there some years, and some years being quite strict, but when I went strict vegan about a year and a half ago- a few months into it I developed odd tremors and neurological problems. I upped supplements and continued eating nutritious vegetables (many of which I grew myself in my veganic garden), legumes, etc. I barely ever ate anything that wasn’t a whole food. I felt a little better, but not great. A year and a half later, terrible tremors and neurological damage, heart palpitations, mild hallucinations etc.. Terrifying! I found myself often exhausted, depressed, nearly suicidal when I became my sickest most recently. The only thing tests could find were small nutritional deficiencies in mainly micro-nutrients. Those small deficiencies have a HUGE impact! I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea that it’s not just inadequate B12 that can affect your nervous system. Calcium deficiency, magnesium deficiency, iodine, zinc, potassium, iron etc.. can all cause tremors, neurological problems, heart palpitations, etc.. And the quantities of these particular nutrients are relatively low in a vegan diet and even a vegetarian diet or really many diets low in animal products in general. I have since started a 90/10 diet. 90% plant based with small amounts of animal- it was difficult as the main reason I went vegan and was vegetarian most of my life was to reduce harm to animals, but I am slowly getting better and my tremors and neurological symptoms still occur daily, but much less intense after a month of this dietary change and adding better quality supplements. I am also keeping track of the nutrition in every bite I eat. Surprisingly, even with my 90/10 diet I am still not getting adequate daily intakes of Iron, Almost all B vitamins, Calcium, Potassium, Zinc and Magnesium and let me preface, I eat 6 cups minimum of a variety of dark leafy greens per day, about 1.5-3oz of animal most days, and then a variety of veggies, fruits and nuts the rest of the day and lentils or beans. My point is, even with the animal product- I STILL DO NOT GET ENOUGH OF THESE NUTRIENTS and I am eating adequate calories. If I can’t get enough incorporating small amounts of meat into my diet than what was I getting before being fully vegan? I even had low liver enzymes that generally equate malnutrition- it was shocking. A regular blood panel will not tell you all this either, you have to have special labs ordered to assess your nutrition, just and FYI.

    Now, I realize some people don’t have this issue. Some people eat more calories than myself and can get enough nutrition from plants. This is great! I though i was one of those people too! Some people may not experience such severe symptoms of deficiency .I eat usually under 1400 calories a day- I’m not a large person. Some people might eat much higher volume of food and be fine. Some people may feel great for years before showing any symptoms of deficiency. Some people might absorb nutrients better. The thing is, sure you can get a lot of protein in plants, but you have to eat a lot more and there are some distinguishing factors that can affect different people- although, I do believe most people would benefit from limiting animal products and increasing plant intake- definitely.

    Think 1 cup of edamame has 18 grams of protein, versus 25 grams of protein in 3 oz of tuna or around 70 grams in a cup. You can’t argue that animal products are a denser source- it doesn’t mean we always need that denser source, but you can’t argue that plants have smaller amounts and you have to eat more to get the same nutrients.

    For me, the sheer volume of plant foods makes it difficult to ingest enough and I have really given it great effort. Even with my 90/10 diet I am still falling short! you really have to listen to your body and take a detailed look at what you are eating, before making sweeping general statements.

    I use cronometer website to track my nutrition latelty. I recommend tracking this as it was surprising to me how difficult it is to get the nutrients from just plant foods even when incorporating small amount of animal products. Tracking it seems to be the best way to truly know what you are eating. Like I said, I do supplement, which is helpful, but I have learned from this experience that supplements are to supplement a diet, not replace. I will say, while vegan, I was supplementing with protein, B12 and micronutrients and still had deficiencies despite eating the nutrients in my diet and taking supplements. I was even fermenting my own foods, pairing foods for absorption. I also was not over or under weight, just a few pounds heavier than ideal, but was unable to shed even as much as a pound over a year and a half- although I exercised daily, walked around 3-5 miles per day and did yoga every day. This tells me my body was hanging on to every single pound, because I was not getting adequate nutrition and also I was eating excessive calories of plant foods, trying to get just the minimum recommendations.

    In the month I have changed my diet and researched more on micronutrients introducing better quality supplements, I have healthily lost 8 pounds in about 2 weeks and for the first time in over a year I have the energy to do more cardio and strength training. I look thin and healthy, and I am starting to have muscle tone again, people have even noticed and comment often. It’s not all about being fit, but my body is responding very well and the tremors are not nearly as intense, although my nervous system is not healed.

    Since, discovering that my supplementation intake while being vegan did not prevent deficiencies, I have done a lot of research on types of supplements and how to take them for max absorption etc.. Blood tests have confirmed through diet and supplements I corrected these nutrient imbalances as well.

    Anyhow, you can judge me, tell me I did it “wrong”, insist that it’s sooooo easy, but it’s not and you are not correct- Ethically, I still have some troubles coming to terms with the fact that perhaps I am a mainly herbivorous creature that does much better eating small amounts of animals… even apes eat quite a lot of insects you know.

  • Matthew Riley

    A few thousand years is no time in evolutionary terms, we are not adapted to eat animal flesh at all. Our omnivorous talent has no-doubt saved us from extinction in the past by resorting to eating animals, but it is not at all an ideal source of nutrients for humans. More to the point – why are we discussing health on Jamie Oliver’s website?

  • Such a selfish people on a plant based diet only for health reasons should NEVER use word vegan.
    They do not deserve this word in the same sentence with them.

  • davedave12

    you spelled delicious, satisfying and enjoyable wrong

  • davedave12

    Some people are vegan because of religious prescriptions, e.g. Buddhists. Among all the people who are not vegan for religious reasons about 96% chose to eat meat — so obviously eating meat must be horrible

  • davedave12

    That was the exact point he was making — you can’t just stop eating meat and eat salad all the time. You have to put thought into replacing all the great stuff you get from meat and dairy. Try to read more carefully and stop being so butt-hurt because only a tiny minority of people like your anti-meat cult

  • davedave12

    get some Prep H for your butt hurt — face it only a tiny minority of people will ever join your cult

  • John Martin

    Most vegetarians I know don’t eat healthy but the Vegans do. My whole family does it primarily because there is no humane way to slaughter animals. Pigs are smarter than dogs and I wouldn’t eat my dog. I figure if I don’t have the disposition to catch, slaughter and butcher the meat then I don’t have the right to consume it when I don’t really need to make an animal suffer. The side benefit is my family had hip impingement and noticed greatly reduced inflammation on a plant based diet. Yes of course we educate ourselves daily and don’t eat mainly bread and peanut butter if ever. We try our best to eat plant based meals and grow our own vegetables. We also find it much cheaper. Side benefit is losing weight without being hungry and I feel great. Our diet previously was chicken fish beef, and starch, plant based part always seemed to be a token bit of asparagus or salad. USA is the most obese nation in the world I believe. Plus we are destroying the planet breeding the animals in mass for our consumption. I had one person try and say if you let all the animals go there will be big problems. Lol. Stop breeding the animals in mass. Many people I have talked to including my family do it primarily for humanitarian reasons but there is no substitution for educating yourself. We simply don’t need meat. It’s a choice.

  • John Martin

    But, cattle no longer feed on grass and chickens do not peck in the dirt on factory farms. Even if they did, pesticides often kill B12 producing bacteria and insects in soil. Heavy antibiotic use kills B12 producing bacteria in the guts of farm animals. In order to maintain meat a source of B12 the meat industry now adds it to animal feed, 90% of B12 supplements produced in the world are fed to livestock. Even if you only eat grass-fed organic meat you may not be able to absorb the B12 attached to animal protein. It may be more efficient to just skip the animals and get B12 directly from supplements

  • John Martin

    When you look at the mass marketing of animals for consumption in the USA that was certainly a factor for me. Its a win win win. Better for the environment, better for the animals, better for your health (if you came from a typical American diet) I also find it presumptuous that people take liberties on animals they really have no right to do. If you google Carnism on ted talks there is a Harvard educated psychologist who has done a 2 year study on for instance why in one country they eat pork but not beef, another eat beef but not pork. Why do most countries consider so many animals unedable. Like dogs, just another animal and no smarter than a pig. Or watch the Cove for a tear jerker, we don’t have a healthy respect for life. Anyway that ted talks is a good watch.

  • Akobenra Khufu Feazell

    well said, is correct for Grace, you hit all of the poignant tenants. It has been in my experience, I have lived a vegan lifestyle for over forth years. I simply did not just start eating grass…no, LOL! I learned about the affects of various sources of foods consumed in the human body, I studied food and nutrition to effectively understand how to make smart, wise choice to live a healthier lifestyle.

    Most folks I’ve run across that are meat/dairy consumers, never do any independent research or study, they simply accept traditional passed down information, or upon discovery or finding out the factual data, they simple deny it.

  • Thomas Ve

    Nonsense. Vegan diet is not a diet it’s what humans are created to eat. We are not savages nor carnivores full stop. Jamie Oliver it’s time for you to evolve.

    Animal products do not give you enough b12 because cow gets the b12 from grazing grass. Fish gets omega 3 from algae. And so can we.

  • That is a broad sweeping statement that it untrue. Depending on where you live influences you ability to gain organic or small farm produce. As an example, every egg I buy is from normal roaming chickens, on grass. I could buy battery hen eggs, but I choose not to. The same with meat, traceable produce to grass fed cows, the same with raw milk. So your entire narrative is false and comes down to laziness.

  • John Martin

    You don’t have to talk down to someone to get your point across. It’s fine you have access to these sources and good for you, but do your own research. 99% of the meat consumed comes from factory farms. Not everyone has access to humainly raised and slaughtered animals (if there really is such a thing) My choice of being vegan has a proven result in the blood work I just received. No deficiencies whatsoever and no medicine at 61, in perfect health. The choice to be a vegan is a humanitarian choice. You don’t need to eat animals to be healthy. People who work in slaughter houses are damaged emotionally for life. Why? Why do people not want to watch movies about what goes on in factory farms? Or raise a pig and slaughter it “humainly”, wouldn’t it bother you ? Eating animals is not a necessity to sustain life,
    It is simply something we were brought up to do no different than religion.

  • Hyperbole and deflection, meat and fire are instrumental to our evolutionary brain development along with cooking tubers. I would recommend you dive into evolutionary biology. While we are not seated in stone as science never is, we have a solid understanding of how our brain size increased and the supporting evidence. You can have an ethical position, that is your right. Yet, that is relative to you and thus emotive rhetoric is not needed.

    Few argue the positives of commercial farming, thus, why I don’t support it. Yet you try and forge premise that factory farming killing for food is unethical. If you must know, I grew up on a farm and have butchered and killed. It is part of human life as too the animal in the wild that pulls a beast.

    I am happy you have sound bloodwork, yet again, that is the science of one and is not good science. Also noted, is your age, your requirements in later life are quite removed from younger people not to mention the real damage restrictive diets do, to growing children. So sure, have your ethical standpoint but please do not think it is a healthy choice it is an ideological life choice.

  • That is a broad sweeping statement that it untrue. Depending on where you live influences you ability to gain organic or small farm produce. As an example, every egg I buy is from normal roaming chickens, on grass. I could buy battery hen eggs, but I choose not to. The same with meat, traceable produce to grass fed cows, the same with raw milk. So your entire narrative is false and comes down to location and effort.

  • John Martin

    I have done quite a bit of research and my father was a butcher and my best friend an evolutionary biologist. You need to do some research yourself if you think any red meat is actually good for you or we were actually designed to eat meat. The good is countered by the bad. Don’t bother responding to me, have a nice life.

  • Becky Weaver

    you need to check your facts there… phyto-estrogens are not the same as estrogen… There are very minimal concerns regarding soy… and there is far more estrogen in dairy produce. Best to check you know what you’re talking about before pronouncing it so confidently.

  • miggsie

    Our digestive system is designed for meat and plant, going either pure carnivore or vegan, which means no supplements or fortified foods, will kill you. That is a 100% medical/science/biological fact.

  • miggsie

    ever hear of sushi or steak tartar? Do you think a ‘rare’ steak is cooked? do you know what lactase is? or about the genetic mutation eons back in mans evolution that helped a vast majority of humans digest milk?

    Or did you just watch that hilariously ill-informed ‘what the health’ documentary which is so full of absolute nonsense that a 16 year old biology student could rip it to shreads in 5 minutes?

  • miggsie

    they can go to a bio farm and buy it there.

    I bet you watched ‘what the health’ and swallowed every hilariously ill-informed fact, didn’t you?

  • miggsie

    How can you assure me that we are not meant to eat meat when all biological evidence points to an omivorous diet? Why do we not have a long large intestine to help digest plant matter? Why can’t we break down cellulose? Why do we need DHA, B12, Omega 3? why do you have to take supplements?
    I can assure you, as an omnivore, that I have never had to take supplements of anything, or eat any fortified food, or had to consume cultures produced in a lab, to stay alive.

    No 10 year vegan can ever say that.

  • philipp

    Miggsie, you always have to say: “they could” because no one does, except for once a year. Nevertheless, organic sustenance of large populations on a meat based diet is impossible – vegan it might.

  • miggsie

    neither is possible, there’s simply too many people. How much ecological devastation are you going to cause to grow these crops? how many species are you wiling to wipe out for a vegan utopia built on lies and misinformation? How big is the carbon footprint of your vegan meal, a helluva lot bigger than mine for sure. Veganism is a fallacy,a short-sighted quasi religious philosophy which ignores basic science and biology to push an agenda and only compare itself to unbalanced meat diets, never to , say, an omnivorous athlete.

  • philipp

    you are illogic. That means you are on the right homepage.

  • miggsie

    which part is illogical? Or is it you have no answer. It’s a short-sighted fallacy, ‘switch to vegetables, save the planet’, still got to grow those vegetables which are replacing the meat, is the arable land you’re going to do it on just going to appear?. Maybe you should take a look at what is happening in the areas where those vegetables are grown, it’s going to be a disaster and will have nothing at all to do with the meat industry at all.
    You cannot sustain 7b people on this planet for too long, which ever way you try and do it. And if you think the plant growing corporations are any better than the meat ones, you are seriously deluding yourself.

  • Samantha Leggett

    I completely agree, Sam.