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WHAT ABOUT VEGANISM?

Dear Readers,

together with my friend and colleague Melanie (Fit Me-licious Blog) we sought out to give veganism, so the 100% plantbased diet, a good rational look at. We wanted to look at it’s aspects regarding facts and myths with only a small touch of personal (non-scientific) view.

Melanie is a healthy and fit flexitarian who has always shown great interest in veganism and vegetarian alternatives but stands for an omnivore diet for herself and family. Which is perfectly fine! On her Blog, you will find the german version including her personal view and some additional details on veganism and pregnancy/motherhood – here.

I on the other hand have gone about 95% plantbased/5% vegetarian- such as in cakes and desserts or fish when I get the chance to get fresh local stuff. I have done 100% vegan twice for lent before, but it didn’t really stick. Now I know why- I wasn’t doing it for the „right reasons“.

For me- going vegan is not only about the many health benefits, but mainly because of the overwhelming ethical reasons.

(I believe everyone should choose freely what they want to do- but I also believe you should never live at other living beings expenses.)

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So to get started, let’s have a look at the environmental impact of our meat-eating global society:


  • Thanks to tons and tons of liquid manure, our groundwater has to take a massive beating and is already massively polluted. Without the (huge) demand of animal produce, the total number of livestock would decrease and with it the manure. [1]  In consequence, if we would eat a lot less animal produce, our grounds would be less infested by antibiotics and such!
  • Our great oceans are suffering from terrible overfishing. If we continue with the high demand, in only a few years many species will have become extinct. [2]
  • For the cultivation and growth of animal feed large Areas of forest and rainforest are cleared and destroyed. Did you know that 26% of our earths Surface (without ice) is used for the cattle industry?[3]
  • 80% of greenhouse gases come from livestock. So consider veganism for a healthier climate. [4]
  • A lot less water is needed for the production of plantbased foods and fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables. 15.000 litres of water are needed to produce one kilpgramm of Beef. Yet only 300litres are needed for a Kilogramm of vegetables.[5]

The list goes on.

You know the thing is, that no animal product, especially meat and fish can be produced without abuse, exploitation and violence. A vegan Lifestyle/Nutrition avoids all this which makes these facts a huge ethical driver that I personally feel very strongly. Veganism is very often considered a spiritual thing- leaving the ego beside and caring for those in need.

All this my friends has made me rethink and has shaped my decisions regarding my nutrition. But like I said earlier-suit yourself, I do not consider you a bad person for eating animal products! All I know is that I- am a little better than my former self!

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On to the next Topic- Nutrients!


Veganism gets a bad rap for  apparently being „insufficient/deficient“ of several nutrients. Lets give this a closer look and get the facts right!

The following nutrients are very often associated with the risk of a deficiency with a vegan diet:

Iron

Iron is an important component of Enzymes and the red blood Pigmentation haemoglobin and Myoglobin (as an Oxygen Transporter). The individual requirement depends on sex, age and condition. Plantbased iron (whole grains, legumes, leafy greens, seeds and nuts) have a lower absorptionrate than animal derived iron which can be improved by adding Vitamin C and citric acid. Checking on your blood regularly will give you an idea if an additional supplementation is needed. If you are prone to be defiient (even as a non-vegan) make sure to not consume too much caffeine, black tea, soy products (in big amounts) and alcohol. [6]A former colleague and nutritionist of my team actually taught me about the benefits of curry leaf powder, which may improve iron levels.[7]


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12, also called cobalamine belongs to the more critical mironutrients of the vegan diet. BUT-this may only be the case if cobalamine has not been ingested over many years! This is because our liver holds 2-5mg (our daily Need is 3 microgramms). Non vegans may also  face a potential deficit, especially when  for example the gastric mucosa/small intestine is critically inflamed (chronic). Generally speaking, larger amount of B12 are found in animal products, but also fermented foods such as combucha, kimchi, sourkraut, tempeh and Miso contain small amounts of B12. If you are worried about your B12 levels, simply enjoy vegan products with aded B12 such as soy products. Otherwise thre is no shame taking a good Supplement to stay on the safe side! [8]


Vitamin D

Non-plantbased and vegan Vitamin D are absorbed equally well (80%). But ingested dietary Vitamin D actually only makes up 10-20% of our need! The remaining results from the endogene synthesis thanks to sunlight (UVB) directly to the skin. Unless you spend lots of time throghout the year in the sun with bare Skin, in most cases Vitamin D needs to be supplemented. No matter wether omnivore or vegan! [9]


Calcium

Calciums main roles are the mineralisaton of bones and teeth, but also for the transmission of neural stimuli, muscle contraction and blood coagulation. The most prominent source of Ca is dairy (except for curd). If you do not eat dairy you need to target calcium-rich (and oxalate-poor) vegetables such as broccoli and arugula. Nuts, seeds and cernels (especially sesame and brazil nuts) are pretty high in Calcium. But since most dairy alternatives have added calcium, there is no Need to worry about a deficiency! You do not need to supplement it unless there is a clinical reason or higher requirement! An isolated supplementation in high amounts is even counter-productive since isolated high dosages reduce the absorption rate! [10]


What about protein?

So protein is a highly essential macronutrient is mainly used as a building block for Enzymes, tissue, the immuns-system- basically everything! No Protein =no life!

Protein is made of aminoacids and nitrogen- and eight specifically are essential, meaning you need to ingest them through nutrition! It is true that animal produce such as eggs, meat and dairy contain the best amounts (regarding density and aminoacid profile)- but it does NOT mean that a plantbased diet can not keep up! With a vegan diet the trick is to eat in abundance and to combine several protein sources such as legumes, soy, whole grains, pseudograins, nuts and seeds, also protein powder (hemp is great) etc.- vegetables also contain protein! So Combine smartly – sch as Rice and lentils, red beans and corn etc. I try to incorporate a bit of everything into my meals- making them especially tasty and exciting 😉

And hey- having to eat „more“ is always a good thing right?!

The mysterious soybean


The soybean and it’s products have been suffering from a bad reputation for a bit now. Why though?

The general belief is that the soybean will make you „more female“ whatever that is, due to the “ high phytoestrogen“ found in the legume.  This so called phytoestrogen is correctly termed as isoflavones which are sex-hormone resemblant. Meaning it’s similar to both female AND male sex-hormones. An evident hormonal impact is only possible in very high and isolated amounts (which wouldn’t match the reality of a balanced vegan diet.). There is even some evidence, that isoflavones have protective capacities regarding prostate- and breatcancer risks! [11][12]

The soybean contains high amounts of essential amino acids and is a nice addition to your vegan diet. But be careful- soy allergies exist and too much soy may cause diegstive discomfort so don’t go crazy! If you want a low-purine alternative, check out our home-grown lupines!

What about meat-alternatives/ „fake-meat“?


The demand for vegan shizzle and fun is growing fast! No surprise that the food industry has answered to this growing interest! Go shopping and you will notice that things are to be found your granny will probably dismiss because ist so novel! I am speaking of meat-alternatives, or even weird things like vegan cheese! Is a vegan sausage automatically healthier? NO (but cruelty free yaaaaaaaayyyy). Thing is, if you want things to resemble your chicken Nuggets, very often a lot of fancy ingredients, flavouring and additives are added to get the feel and taste right. This can very often results in more calories, fat and unwanted ingredients! So- check the etiquettes and charts or ask a professional/nutritionist for feedback if you want to give something a go!

There are indeed some really good things apart from tofu and tempeh out there! Staying with soy, I can really recommend granulated/dry soy meat. It’s super fun to prepare- and will resemble minced meat or even chunks/nuggets. the nutrients are also pretty awesome- 100g (dry) contains 355kcal, 8g fat, 13g carbs and whooping 47g Protein! Damn!

If you are not into soy, I came to love these two austrian Brands: Vegini and Hermann Fleischlos (this is not an ad- I just like the stuff!). The second one is NOT vegan (contains eggs from happy chicken) but the ethics behind it are great. So bottom line: give these things a go, Keep an eye on the ingredients and calories and you will be fine :-).


If you want to read more about pregnancy and  motherhood X veganism, check out Melanie’s Blogpost or have a look here.


 

So what else can I say? As you probably know, to me veganism is an ethical choice and I am very lucky to actually know what I do thanks to my profession and education!

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No one is asking you to go full blast vegan- but consider reducing your animal product consumption and reflect on your Habits and luxuries. Cosider weekday vegetarianism/veganism and life with an open mind- don’t blurt out bullshit if you don’t know what you are talking about. If we all went part-time vegan or atleast a lot more vegetarian, we can make such a big impact- environmentally, ethially and with whole dosage of extra love!

If you are seeking to transition to a vegan diet- please consult a professional! I myself also take clients on this topic at my office at Holmes Place in Vienna!

Hope you enjoyed my article- it was a pleasure preparing and doing the research together with Melanie!

Leave me some feedback if you like – wish you all the best

Holly xx

 


Sources/references
[1] ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e.pd
[2] http://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/facts-on-overfishing
[3] http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i0680e/i0680e.pdf
[4] ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/a0701e/a0701e.pdf
[5] http://waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/Report-48-WaterFootprint-AnimalProducts-Vol1_1.pdf
[6] DACH Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr, Erste Auflage, Umschau Verlag; S.227-230
[7] https://www.myfairtrade.com/de-de/eisen-aus-curryblatt.html
[8] DACH Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr, Erste Auflage, Umschau Verlag; S.161-164
[9] DACH Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr, Erste Auflage, Umschau Verlag; S.79-96
[10] DACH Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr, Erste Auflage, Umschau Verlag; S.189-215
[11] Zhang FF, Haslam DE, Terry MB, et al. Dietary isoflavone intake and all-cause mortality in breast cancer survivors: the Breast Cancer Family Registry. Cancer. Published online March 6, 2017.
[12] Er A, Lane JA, Martin RM, et al. Adherence to dietary and lifestyle recommendations and prostate cancer risk in the Prostate Testing for Cancer and Treatment (ProtecT) Trial. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2014;23:2066-2077.

 

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