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Why vegan junk food may be even worse for your health

The spillover effect

If someone can find vegan food in pubs, restaurants, and fast food outlets, then the spillover to a vegan lifestyle will be easier.

However, there is a risk that nutrient deficiencies might develop over time that will not be immediately apparent, like tiredness with low B12 levels, infertility with low iron or osteoporosis from a calcium deficiency.

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Why vegan junk food may be even worse for your health

Why vegan junk food may be even worse for your health

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200129-why-vegan-junk-food-may-be-even-worse-for-your-health

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

Vegan fast food

Vegan fast food alternatives may often be worse for your health than the meat equivalent. It is good that people start to think about plant-based foods, but the danger lies in thinking that it is good for you when it can be equally or more unhealthy.

For instance, tofu contains omega 3 called Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but our bodies are not able to do anything particularly useful with ALA. The Omega 3 that is highly beneficial to us is called DHA and EPA and are found in high quantities in fatty fish oils.

Plant-based protein menus

Plant-based protein sources are not the same as animal protein sources. Proteins are made up of amino acids which are the building blocks of every cell and hormone in our body. Meat protein contains all nine essential amino acids, whereas plant-based protein usually lacks at least one of the nine essential amino acids our body needs.

Unripe jackfruit makes a convincing choice for pulled pork alternatives, curries and burgers. But it is almost valueless if you needed protein since jackfruit consists of carbohydrates. Vegan burgers are made up of beans, but this is not a complete protein source.

Iron content

One study found that 25% of vegans (mainly women) had very low blood iron levels, compared to 0% of omnivores.

Plants like whole grains, legumes and spinach are high in iron but is not always the best type. Animal sources contain haem iron. Non-haem iron, found in plants, is not as well absorbed by the body.

Vegan considerations

  • If you go long-term vegan, it is essential to pair food. For instance, vitamin C helps your body to absorb non-haem iron sources.
  • Vegan burgers contain more salt, sugar, and carbohydrates than meat equivalents. Vegan burgers also contain less protein.
  • Coconut oil, a general go-to for vegans, is higher in saturated fats than animal fats. Saturated fats increase LDL cholesterol, which is responsible for plaque build-up in arteries.
  • Dairy products are good sources of B12. Plant sources of B12 are less easily taken up by the body.

The spillover effect

If someone can find vegan food in pubs, restaurants, and fast food outlets, then the spillover to a vegan lifestyle will be easier.

However, there is a risk that nutrient deficiencies might develop over time that will not be immediately apparent, like tiredness with low B12 levels, infertility with low iron or osteoporosis from a calcium deficiency.

SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Meanings of “protein”

Protein is a macronutrient, a family of molecules made of amino acids. It is found in many different food items like meat and legumes. Even grains and leafy vegetables have some. Plant-b...

Protein-rich foods from animals

  • They may have more saturated fatty acids (beef and dairy especially)
  • They may have more omega-3 fatty acids (fish especially)
  • They don’t contain any fiber or carbohydrates.
  • They tend to be very high in protein.

If you need a lot of protein in your diet, meat is a great way to satisfy that need.

“Plant protein”

Plant-based protein sources don't have as much protein. You can get enough protein through a plant-based diet, as long as it is well balanced. Plant-based protein sources:

  • They often contain fiber (especially legumes and whole grains).
  • If they contain fat, they are often rich in “good” fats (for example, the omega-3’s in nuts).
  • They contain plenty of starch as well, so it’s impossible to follow a low-carb diet if that’s a priority for you.

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Food cravings

They are an intense desire for a specific food. This desire can seem uncontrollable, and the person's hunger may not be satisfied until they get that particular food. We usually feel cr...

What causes food cravings

  • An imbalance or changes in hormones
  • Emotional issues (eating for comfort)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Dehydration 

How to reduce cravings

  • Lower stress levels: stress promotes cravings for comfort foods.
  • Drink plenty of water: Dehydration manifests itself as hunger, so when you get a craving, drink water.
  • Get enough sleep: not getting enough sleep alters the hormonal balance.
  • Eat enough protein.
  • Avoid hunger: under-eating can make food cravings worse.

Veganism

Veganism is one of the fastest-growing millennial trends. In the United States, it grew by 600% between 2014 and 2017.

Recent concern about the nutritional gaps in plant-based diets ha...

Testing the impact of the vegan diet

One study supplemented Kenyan schoolchildren with three different types of soup (meat, milk and oil) as a snack over seven school terms. 

The children who ate the soup containing meat each day had a significant edge: they outperformed all the other children on a test for non-verbal reasoning. The children who received meat soup or soup with added oil did the best on arithmetic ability.

Important brain nutrients

Several essential nutrients are not available from plants or fungi. Creatine, carnosine, taurine, EPA and DHA omega-3, haem iron and vitamins B12 and D3 generally only occur naturally in foods from animal products.

The nutrients found in vegan foods are minimal. To get the minimum amount of vitamin B6 each day from the richest plant sources, you'd have to eat about five cups worth of potatoes.

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