Nav: Home

Vegan diet as lifestyle choice and the need for risk communication

November 14, 2017

"Deficiencies in nutrients like vitamin B12 or iron are possible in those who completely refrain from eating foods of animal origin, particularly in the case of pregnant women and children", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "If we want information on potential risks to reach the target group, then it's essential that we know about their attitudes."

The BfR is now publishing the findings of a research project on the individual and social influencing factors that motivate people to take up and maintain a vegan diet (in German). One of the things that became clear in the project was that effective risk communication needs to pick up on the existing convictions of vegans. The aim is to provide concrete tips for everyday life which can be combined with a vegan diet.

A growing percentage of the population is deciding to take up a vegan diet, but it is not yet absolutely clear from a scientific point of view what advantages and disadvantages are associated with such a decision. Some studies show that a vegan diet can positively impact health - by lowering cholesterol levels, for example, or reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. At the same time, a purely vegan diet can result in potential health risks, because a plant-based diet makes it more difficult to ensure an adequate supply of some specific nutrients. Alongside vitamin B12, there are, for example, several minerals, certain amino acids and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are seen as potentially critical nutrients. This applies in particular to especially vulnerable groups of the population such as pregnant women and children. In 2016, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) adopted a stance on a vegan diet based on the latest scientific literature, and came to the conclusion that "the DGE does not recommend a vegan diet for pregnant or nursing women, infants, children and adolescents".

The BfR decided to focus on this topic in order to develop suitable risk communication strategies. A research project was conducted in which a total of 42 vegans were asked about their attitudes in focus group interviews. In view of the sometimes very pronounced differences compared to the average population, the findings allow generalised statements.

According to the survey, vegans have above-average educational backgrounds and a sound knowledge of nutrition. 40 of the 42 respondents are aware, for example, that a vegan diet can result in a deficiency of vitamin B12. Most respondents therefore said that they regularly supplement this vitamin. There is, however, also a need for information. Knowledge regarding sources of iron in foods is fragmentary, for example. Nevertheless, the majority of respondents have an awareness of the risks of this special form of diet. The Internet is cited as the most important source of information for people interested in a vegan diet.

The survey highlighted the uniformity of attitudes. The decision in favour of a vegan diet is generally driven by ethical concerns, for example, and mostly also implies doing without animal products in other areas, such as clothing. The overwhelming majority of respondents could not imagine returning to an omnivorous diet permitting animal products, and neither is a pregnancy cited to any great extent as a potential reason for doing so.

It became apparent during the course of the study that portraying a vegan diet as dangerous or abnormal does hardly reach the target group. An effective risk communication strategy should rather attempt to pick up on existing convictions. This could include concrete guidelines which vegans can integrate with their nutritional preferences.
-end-


BfR Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

Related Nutrition Articles:

Learning about nutrition from 'food porn' and online quizzes
Harvard and Columbia researchers designed an online experiment to test how people learn about nutrition in the context of a social, online quiz.
4 exciting advances in food and nutrition research
New discoveries tied to how food affects our body and why we make certain food choices could help inform nutrition plans and policies that encourage healthy food choices.
Cutting-edge analytics allows health to be improved through nutrition
The company Lipigenia, which specializes in setting out guidelines on appropriate nutrition to achieve people's well-being on the basis of state-of-the-art blood analytics, has embarked on its activity following the partnership reached between AZTI, the Italian enterprise CNR-ISOF and Intermedical Solutions Worldwide.
Nothing fishy about better nutrition for mums and babies
Researchers from the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and the University of Adelaide have found a way to provide mothers and young children in Cambodia with better nutrition through an unlikely source -- fish sauce.
Nutrition information... for cows?
Cattle need a mixture is legume and grass for a healthy, balanced diet.
Analyzing picture books for nutrition education
Feeding children can be a challenging process for many parents.
Researchers develop new framework for human nutrition
Existing models for measuring health impacts of the human diet are limiting our capacity to solve obesity and its related health problems, claim two of the world's leading nutritional scientists in their newest research.
Nutrition labels on dining hall food: Are they being used? By who?
University of Illinois dining halls voluntarily label foods with nutrition information.
Children's nutrition influenced by local neighborhoods
In an innovative study, Dr. Gilliland and his team used GPS technology to provide evidence that adolescents' exposure to junk food outlets during trips to and from school affects their likelihood of making a junk food purchase.
Leading nutrition experts speak up about malnutrition
Malnutrition is a critical public health problem, affecting many people across the United States and around the world.

Related Nutrition Reading:

Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
by T. Colin Campbell (Author), Howard Jacobson (Contributor)

New York Times Bestseller

What happens when you eat an apple? The answer is vastly more complex than you imagine.

Every apple contains thousands of antioxidants whose names, beyond a few like vitamin C, are unfamiliar to us, and each of these powerful chemicals has the potential to play an important role in supporting our health. They impact thousands upon thousands of metabolic reactions inside the human body. But calculating the specific influence of each of these chemicals isn’t nearly sufficient to explain the effect of the apple as a whole. Because almost... View Details


Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
by Catherine Shanahan M.D. (Author)

One of the Best Health and Wellness Books of 2017 ― Sports Illustrated


A self-published phenomenon examining the habits that kept our ancestors disease-free―now with a prescriptive plan for “The Human Diet” to help us all live long, vital, healthy lives.

Physician and biochemist Cate Shanahan, M.D. examined diets around the world known to help people live longer, healthier lives―diets like the Mediterranean, Okinawa, and “Blue Zone”―and identified the four common nutritional habits, developed over millennia, that unfailingly... View Details


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide, 5th Ed
by Roberta Larson Duyff (Author)

The newest edition of the most trusted nutrition bible.

Since its first, highly successful edition in 1996, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Complete Food and Nutrition Guide has continually served as the gold-standard resource for advice on healthy eating and active living at every age and stage of life. At once accessible and authoritative, the guide effectively balances a practical focus with the latest scientific information, serving the needs of consumers and health professionals alike. Opting for flexibility over rigid dos and don’ts, it allows readers... View Details


Nutrition For Dummies
by Carol Ann Rinzler (Author)

Get the straight facts on nutrition, slim down, and feel great

You've been hearing it since you were a kid: "You are what you eat." And this wise saying is true! Good nutrition is the key to achieving and maintaining healthy weight and lifelong good health—no matter how you slice it. Nutrition For Dummies, 6th Edition is a one-size-fits-all guide to nutrition that shows you how to manage your diet so you get the most bang for your buck. This book gives you the know-how to put together a shopping list, prepare healthy foods, and easily cut calories.

The latest edition... View Details


Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook-5th Edition
by Nancy Clark (Author)

Boost your energy, manage stress, build muscle, lose fat, and improve your performance. The best-selling nutrition guide is now better than ever!

Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook will help you make the right choices in cafes, convenience stores, drive-throughs, and your own kitchen.

Whether you’re preparing for competition or simply eating for an active lifestyle, let this leading sports nutritionist show you how to get maximum benefit from the foods you choose and the meals you make. You’ll learn what to eat before and during exercise and... View Details


Nutrition (Quick Study Health)
by Inc. BarCharts (Author)

Proper nutrition is crucial for maintaining one’s general health and well-being; with that in mind, you’ll discover a wealth of nutritional information within this newly updated and expanded version of our best-selling Nutrition study guide. Each aspect of nutrition―from carbohydrates to vitamins―is comprehensively examined, with key definitions, examples, charts, and full-color illustrations provided for additional clarity.

View Details


Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies, 13th Edition
by Frances Sienkiewicz Sizer (Author), Ellie Whitney (Author)

Ideal for both non-majors and mixed-majors, NUTRITION: CONCEPTS AND CONTROVERSIES provides practical applications and accessible explanations to dispel common misconceptions about nutrition and empower readers to make lasting behavior changes. Do pregnant women really crave pickles and ice cream? Are carbohydrates good or bad? These and many more topics are explored in NUTRITION: CONCEPTS AND CONTROVERSIES. The Thirteenth Edition of this text dispels common misconceptions about nutrition, and equips you with a thorough understanding of important nutrition concepts and tools that empower you... View Details


How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
by Michael Greger M.D. MD (Author), Gene Stone (Author)

New York Times Bestseller

“This book may help those who are susceptible to illnesses that can be prevented.”
―His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“Absolutely the best book I’ve read on nutrition and diet”
–Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution

From the physician behind the wildly popular Nutrition Facts website, How Not to Die reveals the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can help prevent and reverse many of the causes of... View Details


Nutrition: An Applied Approach (4th Edition)
by Janice Thompson (Author), Melinda Manore (Author)

ALERT: Before you purchase, check with your instructor or review your course syllabus to ensure that you select the correct ISBN. Several versions of Pearson's MyLab & Mastering products exist for each title, including customized versions for individual schools, and registrations are not transferable. In addition, you may need a CourseID, provided by your instructor, to register for and use Pearson's MyLab & Mastering products.

 

Packages

Access codes for... View Details


Good Enough to Eat: A Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition
by Lizzy Rockwell (Author), Lizzy Rockwell (Illustrator)

Good Enough to Eat is one of a kind: the only guide to kids' nutrition written especially for kids. A practical, hands-on tool for families who want to eat a healthy diet, this book explains nutrition from carrots to cookies.

In this book, you will learn:

all about the nutrient groups—carbohydrates, protein, fat, water, vitamins, and mineralseach nutrient's functionwhich foods contain which nutrientshow much of each nutrient a kid needs each dayhow the body digests foodall about calories

Good Enough to Eat includes kid-friendly recipes such as Alphabread and... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Simple Solutions
Sometimes, the best solutions to complex problems are simple. But simple doesn't always mean easy. This hour, TED speakers describe the innovation and hard work that goes into achieving simplicity. Guests include designer Mileha Soneji, chef Sam Kass, sleep researcher Wendy Troxel, public health advocate Myriam Sidibe, and engineer Amos Winter.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#448 Pavlov (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're learning about the life and work of a groundbreaking physiologist whose work on learning and instinct is familiar worldwide, and almost universally misunderstood. We'll spend the hour with Daniel Todes, Ph.D, Professor of History of Medicine at The Johns Hopkins University, discussing his book "Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science."