Spilling the Beans on Vegan Diets

Susan S. Johnson

ORLANDO, Fla. — A vegetarian and vegan diet has been linked to weight loss and preventing certain diseases but is everything you hear about plant-based diets really true?

Meat, eggs, fish, dairy?would you really be able to cut these foods out if you went on a plant-based diet?

Many people believe going on a plant-based diet can cause deficiencies in essential nutrients, such as protein and calcium.

“If you plan correctly you can get enough of all the other vitamins and minerals and proteins that you need,” Tara Collingwood, a registered dietician, told Ivanhoe.

Eggs and milk are high in protein. Vegans can get protein in beans, chickpeas, and tofu. Foods such as peas, spinach, figs, and almonds contain calcium. But just because you are vegan or vegetarian does not mean that you have a healthier diet.

“Some vegans don’t eat many vegetables, so they may be eating processed grains or rice or crackers and bread,” Judy Simon, MS, RD, CD, CHES, an clinical dietician at the University of Washington, stated.

Beware of added salt. A four-ounce patty of 90 percent lean beet has 77 milligrams of salt, while a traditional veggie burger has 398! So, whether your vegan or not, be sure to read the labels.

Another myth is that consuming soy increases someone’s risk for breast cancer. There is no evidence to support that.

Earlier studies in rats showed when they consumed large amounts of soy, it increased their breast cancer risk. However, humans and rats process soy differently. No studies have shown a soy and cancer risk connection in humans.

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