Should I go vegan?
Many people decide to go vegan for environmental benefits, but there are also benefits on the physical side.
Dr Emma Derbyshire said: “Clearly, the benefits of going vegan can be very personal.
"Increasing concerns about animal welfare and the carbon footprint of foods that we eat are now major drivers behind veganism.
“In terms of specific benefits, the potential to help regulate bodyweight is one benefit.
“Vegan and vegetarian diets are also higher in fibre, so they help promote a diverse ecosystem of healthy bacteria, helping to support both human gut microbiome and overall health.”
Being vegan is a personal choice, however, and there is no right or wrong decision.
Is veganism healthy?
You can be a healthy vegan or an unhealthy vegan, depending on what you consume.
Dr Derbyshire said: “Vegans should follow healthy eating guidelines which include at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day and keep fully hydrated.
“Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, opting for wholegrain if possible and include some dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts.
“A variety of plant-based protein sources should be eaten and plenty of fluid consumed throughout the day – ideally drinking 6-8 cups or glasses which does not need to be just water.
“Drinking herbal, plant-based teas, like Rooibos, can contribute to fluid intakes and research has found they are just as hydrating.
“A new study on Rooibos also found evidence for cholesterol reduction, blood glucose control, bone health, memory function, sperm viability, immune balance, anti-inflammatory effects plus anti-allergy effects.”
Should vegans take vitamins?
You should try to get as many vitamins as possible from your diet, but you may need a little help from tablets.
Dr Derbyshire said: “Vegans have been reported to have lower intakes of certain nutrients including vitamin B12, calcium and vitamin D.
“Iron and omega-3 fatty acid intakes should also be monitored.
“There are also concerns that shifts away from animal-derived proteins which currently are a main providers of dietary choline could impact on intakes and body status of this nutrient.”
If these nutrients can’t be supplied from food sources, this is when supplements would be warranted that are suitable for vegans.
Standard guidance for vitamin D is that we should consider taking 10 micrograms a day to keep bones and muscles healthy.
More about: Veganism