The basic concept of the vegan diet is the complete renunciation of meat and animal products of any kind. It is even more than a form of nutrition - it is a lifestyle in which inner conviction has a high value.
Times are changing and many of us are living and consuming much more consciously than was the case in the past. Increasingly, issues like animal welfare, sustainability and environmental awareness are getting the hearing they deserve and working their way out of niche existence and into the spotlight. Despite all the benefits, there are a few important points you should keep in mind when eating a vegan diet.
Advantages and disadvantages of the vegan diet
By now there are great dishes, products and recipes that make vegan nutrition no longer complicated and unusual, but simple and suitable for everyday use. Even more, many dishes are not only healthy, but also simply delicious.
The purely plant-based diet actually offers many advantages. Studies indicate, for example, a lower average body weight as well as a reduced risk of certain diseases. However, there are nutrients that are increasingly found in animal food sources and can therefore become critical if completely avoided. You should be aware of these and replace them with suitable alternatives to prevent deficiencies.
Although in many cases the opinion is to be heard that in the vegan nutrition by a supplementation with vitamin B12 all deficits are balanced, studies show a different picture.
In long-term purely plant-based diets, other micronutrients can also enter the critical range.
The world's largest vegan-vegetarian study draws a comparison with the mixed-food diet. It shows that although the vegan diet is above average in fiber, vitamin B1, folic acid, vitamin C, E, magnesium and iron, not all of these substances can be sufficiently absorbed. Micronutrients such as vitamin D, B12, calcium and zinc are actually present only in small amounts, according to the study. In the long term, there is a risk of undersupply.
Threatening deficiency symptoms - a reason not to live vegan?
In no case. It is with the vegan nutrition like also with other nourishing forms: crucial is to nourish itself consciously and to understand, which micro nutrients are sufficiently present and on which you should particularly pay attention. The best way, of course, is in the form of foods that are particularly rich in the missing micronutrients. If that doesn't work, dietary supplements are a good way to provide your body with everything it needs. In order for the body to benefit optimally, it is of course important to select high-quality products that are free of controversial additives and offer vitamins and co in a natural form available to the body.
Which micronutrients are critical in the vegan diet?
Vitamin B12 - the classic
One of the most common questions vegans encounter is "Do you take vitamin B12?". Rightly so, because this vitamin is not present in plants, although it is very important for the body. For a certain time a small supply can be bridged, since it is stored in the liver, in the long term it is missing then nevertheless. A deficiency leaves clear traces, after all, vitamin B12 contributes to a normal energy metabolism, the normal function of the immune system, the nervous system and the formation of red blood cells.
Tip: Pay attention to a good supply and have the blood value determined directly during the checkup at the doctor.
Folic acid or better folate
The generic term folic acid refers to another B vitamin that is actually abundant in the plant-based diet. Folate is the natural form found in green leafy vegetables. However, it is very sensitive and degrades greatly during storage and especially during cooking. Thus, despite plenty of vegetables on the menu, the amount may be too little for the body.
Tip: Regularly integrate green salads and raw vegetables into the diet.
The mineral iron is relatively treacherous. Because what is in the food does not always arrive. How can that be? Well, minerals like iron are not found as pure iron in food. It combines with oxygen, for example, to form iron oxide. Depending on the compound, the body can not fully utilize it and a large part leaves the body again unused.
Tip: Make sure to take vitamin C at the same time as iron. It improves the absorption significantly.
Basically, the plant-based diet contains good amounts of vitamin C. However, as you already see in the tip with iron, timing is also important. Ideally, a snack rich in vitamin C always accompanies iron intake.
Tip: Make sure to have vitamin C in your diet every day, because the body cannot store it for long.
The sun vitamin is produced by your body itself when it has enough sun available. It can hardly be absorbed through food, regardless of whether it is vegan or a mixed diet. Due to lifestyle and geographic location, it is difficult for many to maintain a good level.
Tip: Vitamin D3 is usually derived from lanolin, a component of sheep's wool. Look for a vegan grade - this is derived from lichen, which is naturally high in vitamin D3.
The trace element zinc is found in plant foods such as cereals, but at the same time it also contains another plant substance that inhibits absorption. The phytin is mainly found in soy, barley, rye, wheat and corn and combines with the zinc. The body cannot absorb this compound.
Tip: Caffeine is a zinc predator and can reduce absorption by up to 50%. If you take zinc, stay away from caffeinated beverages.
This trace element is found primarily in plants. However, the amount drawn from the soil by plants is quite variable. The consumption study has shown that there are indeed deficits here, which is why this nutrient should also be kept in mind.
Tip: Selenium comes in different forms that vary in how well it is available to the body. In the case of supplementation, we recommend selenomethionine, which is particularly well absorbed by the body.
Calcium is contained in plant foods, but the amounts are limited. Here, attention should also be paid to a sufficient supply, so that enough of this important nutrient is available.
Tip: A good plant source of calcium is broccoli and a certain type of seaweed. The red algae known as seaweed stores calcium and can thus contribute to the calcium supply.
The vegan diet calls for an awareness of micronutrients. It is also important here, in addition to the supply, to keep an eye on the actual bioavailability, so as not to get into a deficiency in the long term. Through sensible planning, regular checks of blood values and appropriate and targeted intake through micronutrient supplements, you can also benefit from the advantages of this lifestyle in the long term. To make this step as easy as possible for you, we have developed our practical Vegan Plus day packs, which provide you with all the important micronutrients every day in an uncomplicated way.