Vegan, vegan, vegetarian, what is the difference?
Vegetarians will follow a diet that excludes eating animal flesh (meat and fish). This means they can consume animal products such as eggs, honey or dairy products.
They are to be distinguished from vegans who only eat products of plant origin; and vegans who exclude the use of products of animal origin, both in their diet and in their daily life. Vegans, for example, do not use leather.
Flexitarians do not systematically exclude products of animal origin, but strongly limit the frequency of their consumption.
Is it possible to have a balanced diet with these diets?
Vegans and vegans, who do not consume any food of animal origin, are generally more prone to deficiencies. However, it should be noted that it is entirely possible to provide all the nutrients to our body and limit these deficiencies by adopting a varied and diversified diet.
For this, it is necessary to inquire and learn about the nutritional composition of foods. This is the key to successfully combining complementary foods and finding in sufficient quantities the nutrients usually found in large quantities in products of animal origin. You will need to pay particular attention to the nutrients listed below. For this, you will find examples of foods of plant origin in which these nutrients are found in significant quantities:
- Vitamin D3: mushrooms, avocado, cocoa powder, dark chocolate
- Vitamin B2: oilseeds, legumes, whole grains, vegetables
- Omega-3: flaxseed, walnut and camelina oil, walnuts, flax, chia and hemp seeds, legumes, green leafy vegetables
- Calcium: green leafy vegetables, legumes, tofu, dried fruits
- Iron: legumes, quinoa, oatmeal, dried apricots, cocoa powder
- Zinc: legumes, whole grains, vegetables, oilseeds,
- Selenium: chickpeas, onions, shallots
- Iodine: edible seaweed (example: nori, wakame)
- Proteins: legumes, whole grains, vegetables, oilseeds, dried fruits
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Aren't plant proteins of lower quality than animal proteins?
A frequently held idea is to say that plant proteins are of lower quality than those of animal origin. This is a false statement: proteins are a collection of many different amino acids. Eight are called essential because our body cannot synthesize them itself. A product of animal origin such as meat, for example, has the advantage of having a varied profile of these eight amino acids. It is therefore very easy to obtain all of your intake with a single food source.
Conversely, plant foods do not necessarily have a varied profile. It is mainly lysine and methionine which are sometimes difficult to find. They are found more particularly in green vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, spinach) as well as in legumes. A single source will therefore not necessarily be sufficient to provide all the amino acids. On the other hand, by varying the plant sources as much as possible to have the most complete profile, plant proteins are as effective as animal proteins and can meet all needs.
Is it necessary to take food supplements?
In general, by observing all the recommendations, it is entirely possible to have a diet that meets all the body's needs for those following a vegan or plant-based diet, except for vitamin B12.
In fact, the only ingredients of plant origin that contain vitamin B12 in large quantities are algae such as spirulina. However, the form of this vitamin B12 is not an active form, preventing its good bioavailability by the body. In the event of insufficient intake of vitamin B12, a deficiency with a risk of anemia is possible. Supplementation with cyanocobalamin (stable form of vitamin 12) is therefore essential and strongly recommended by the Vegan Federation. It is then either recommended to take 1 µg of vitamin B12 with each meal (i.e. 3 times a day), 10 µg once a day or 2000 µg once a week for people who absorb vitamin B12 poorly.
For other nutrients, taking the time to select complementary plants to get all the nutrients can take time, especially for people who are new to veganism. Beginners or more experienced, taking a food supplement specially adapted for vegans can in this case be of help during periods when time may be short. It is with this objective that the Essential vegan, vegetarian & flexitarian treatment was designed and developed.