The Consumer Education Project of Milk SA

Is a vegan diet a healthy lifestyle choice

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Excluding all animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy) means vegans often need to supplement their diets to avoid deficiencies, especially of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.

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Although a vegan diet may have specific health benefits, it is challenging to ensure sufficient intake of all recommended vitamins and minerals. As vegan diets exclude all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy, people who choose a vegan diet often need to supplement their diet to meet their nutritional needs, especially to avoid iron and vitamin B12 deficiencies.

It may also prove challenging to obtain all the essential amino acids when following a vegan diet, as these amino acids are more readily available in animal foods. Animal proteins are considered to be ‘complete’ proteins because they contain all of the essential amino acids that the body needs.

It is further also difficult to meet calcium requirements through vegan diets. Vegetable sources of calcium generally contain small amounts of calcium with a low bioavailability. People who opt for a vegan diet would therefore need to eat substantial amounts of plant-based foods to fulfil their calcium needs.

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