There are more vegans in the UK than ever before – more than half a million, in fact. The health benefits of eating a predominantly plant-based diet are well documented — not to mention the ethical and environmental pros of giving up meat for good. There are a number of reasons why someone might want to opt for a diet sans animals today, but what does veganism actually do to your body? To mark World Vegan Day, we spoke to dieticians and nutrition experts who explained what happens to your body when you go vegan and why. Due to the absence of red meat in a plant-based diet, vegans and vegetarians are typically deficient in vitamin B12 and iron. There are also a number of foods which are naturally rich in iron, such as ground linseeds, nuts and spinach. Omitting entire food groups from your diet will cause deficiencies across the board and when it comes to dairy, the deficiency-du-jour is calcium. Vegans naturally have a much higher fibre intake, explains Professor Ian Rowland, head of nutrition at the University of Reading. Pulses, whole grains and starchy vegetables are all common staples of a vegan diet and are naturally rich in fibre. Rowland agrees, explaining that a number of studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians have a lower saturated fat intake than most meat eaters, which subsequently lowers their risk of heart attacks and coronary artery disease. However, he noted that most studies regarding saturated fat levels relate to vegetarianism, few have specifically examined vegans and further research must be done to confirm these claims.
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Search Search. Menu Sections. Want to do more to support your health and the planet by going plant-based, but struggle with energy dips and feeling depleted? I ‘ve chatted with a few friends who returned to meat recently – not because they desperately missed those juicy steaks or couldn’t live without their Thursday-night Nando’s actually, that did apply in some cases, but because they missed feeling awake and energised. The fact is, drastically changing your diet can throw things off balance. This is all stuff we can work through – and the rewards will come – but there’s no shame if it takes a bit of trial and error.