Vegan diet without nutritional monitoring can bring health risks – 11/09/2021

The vegan diet is a food and lifestyle choice based only on plant consumption. However, from a nutritional point of view, it is necessary to take some precautions in relation to the maintenance of essential nutrients for the human body when choosing this eating style.

Natália Utikava, nutritionist and master in nutrition from the Faculty of Public Health (FSP) of USP (University of São Paulo), explained some important concepts about veganism to Jornal da USP no Ar 1st Edition. “Vegans are people who do not consume anything of animal origin, apart from food, such as clothing, hygiene and beauty products, cleaning products and all the other areas that this choice permeates,” he says.

Regarding nutrition, a balanced and safe vegan diet contains cereals, beans, oil seeds, legumes, vegetables and fruits, foods that are examples of nutritional replacements for meat, eggs and dairy products. “In any food choice, if there is no frequent consumption of these foods or there is consumption of highly processed foods without monitoring by a more specialized professional, there is a risk of the emergence of some nutritional deficiency”, he explains.

Natalia also emphasizes that the vegan diet can be adopted at any stage of life, “as long as it is planned and monitored by a trained health professional”. It is from the medical supervision that a planned diet is created and, if necessary, the supplementation of some nutrient.

“In the case of protein, it is necessary to reinforce the consumption of foods from the beans group, such as chickpeas, lentils, peas, soy and derivatives, combined with some cereal”, he points out. She also says that rice and beans can supply the body’s need for protein and that the amount ingested depends on each individual’s lifestyle, which should be guided by a nutrition professional.

Regarding iron, Natália explains that vegetables with dark green leaves, such as arugula, endive, kale, watercress and others, are rich in this mineral. As for calcium, the vegan can find it in oilseeds and vegetable drinks.

Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that cannot be ingested through the vegan diet, explains Natália. “At some point, the substance will need to be supplemented. To identify the amount of the nutrient in the blood, medical monitoring is important,” he explains.

The nutritionist also advises interested parties to seek information about the style of veganism from safe sources and specialized medical care during this transition.