Thursday 19 September 2019

Almost half of Irish people say they would try a vegan diet as experts warn of potential health risks

Remember, it's not always about what you eat, but how you eat. Stock photo: Getty
Remember, it's not always about what you eat, but how you eat. Stock photo: Getty
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

ALMOST half of Irish people would consider switching to a vegan diet for environmental and ethical reasons, a new survey has found.

While only 37pc would consider transitioning to veganism on a full-time basis, seven out of 10 people said they would consider incorporating vegan options into their diet a number of days a week.

In total, 202 people took part in the poll by new supplement Well Woman Vegan.

However, there are a few things the 49pc considering a vegan lifestyle should consider before they ditch the meat from their Sunday roast.

Dublin-based dietician Sarah Keogh, of EatWell.ie, said that substituting their source of vitamin B12 – found in meat – with fortified foods or supplements was vital, because low levels of the nutrient can cause irreversible damage to nerve health.

She said that there were many myths suggesting it could be found in seaweed or in the soil on unwashed vegetables.

“People are saying you can get it from eating seaweed, but while B12 is in seaweed, it is in a form not active in the human body,” she said.

“Also, people say you can get it in soil, if you don’t wash your vegetables. But there are no studies to say that works and obviously, we wash them for hygienic reasons.

“A lack of B12 can result in permanent nerve damage, so it is not one to mess with.”

As vegans do not eat dairy, their levels of vitamin D and calcium may also be deficient.

“Some 80pc of people in Ireland are already deficient or borderline as it is, so I would recommend taking vitamin D for everyone,” she said.

While many people believe they can get sufficient calcium from green veg, Ms Keogh pointed out it would be necessary to eat 18 servings of broccoli a day to get the correct intake.

She said vegans could also check if plant-based milks were fortified with calcium.

Herald

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