Healthy Vegan is More than No Meat
A parent is worried about a teen-aged daughter who has decided that she is a Vegan. She has decided that she will be more healthy if she avoids all animal products. But she has not yet added the plant products necessary for those who avoid meat and dairy. A healthy diet is more about what is included than what is avoided.
Protein, Calcium, and B vitamins are among the essential nutrients that need to be replaced. We need to look to people who have had centuries to discover what foods are necessary when meat is rare or absent. Tofu, lentils, garbanzos, and beans of many varieties head the list. All grains , including rice, should be eaten brown and whole.
Most vegetarian cultures get their Calcium from dairy, often in the form of yogurt. Cheeses are also popular in small quantities. Avoiding dairy altogether adds a whole new level of challenges, which I will address in a separate post.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can address a host of possible deficiencies more easily than adding dozens of herbs and other strange plants. Vitamin D3 is important for bone health, nerve function,muscle strength, balance, avoiding depression, and probably for the imune system and avoiding cancers.
Good health requires many nutrients, including enough protein. Look to the cusines of peoples who have spent centuries perfecting healthy diets with little or no meat. Take control natually, but be smart enough to do it right.
Jay Ginther, MD