Welcome to my first blog post! It’s exciting to get started. I hope to provide a source of useful information on plant-based diets that is easy to understand and backed by good evidence. Also check my Facebook page for tips, updates and information related to plant-based eating.
Vegan and vegetarian diets (known as plant-based diets) are growing in popularity. Australia has recently been reported to be the 3rd fastest growing vegan market in the world.
Reasons for eating plant-based include improved health, animal welfare, and environmental benefits.
But are vegan and vegetarian diets really healthy? And can anyone eat this way, including children?
Many studies have shown the health benefits of plant-based diets. Research has indicated vegan and vegetarian diets are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and some cancers. Following a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, and in people with diabetes, to improve blood glucose control.
However people eating a plant-based diet still need to make the right food choices. Emerging research is showing that while a healthy plant-based diet (including fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts) has a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, an unhealthy plant-based diet (high in refined grains, potatoes, and sugar) has an increased risk.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are a healthy way of eating for people of all ages. As supported by the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper, vegetarian and vegan diets can meet the nutritional and growth needs of all life stages, including pregnancy and breastfeeding, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older people, and athletes.
As with all eating patterns, whether plant-based or containing meat, attention needs to be paid to food choices in order to avoid nutrient deficiencies or excess. For plant-based diets these include vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fats.
Plant-based diets, both vegan and vegetarian, when properly planned and well-balanced are not only suitable for children and adults alike, but have many health benefits as well.