Government-funded health service states benefits of vegan diets

Healthdirect, the national, government-funded health information and advice service, has published an article stating that a vegan diet can help reduce the risk of disease.

The article, Vegetarian and vegan diets, says that "Plant-based diets can help reduce your risk of disease and provide you with all the protein, minerals and vitamins your body needs."

It continues: "A vegetarian diet based on vegetables, legumes, beans, wholegrains, fruits, nuts and seeds can help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. Dietary fibre in a plant-based diet increases 'good' bacteria in the bowel."

Vegan diets not only have these useful health benefits but removing animals from the agriculture industry would also benefit the environment. As Healthdirect says, "Plant-based diets could also benefit the planet because growing plants for food uses fewer resources than keeping animals for food."

Healthdirect lists vegan sources for a number of nutrients. For protein they say "You can get the amino acids you need by eating a variety of plant sources of protein each day. Good sources of protein include:

  • legumes such as chick peas, lentils and beans
  • tofu
  • nuts, excluding coconut
  • seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, chia and sesame
  • grains such as wheat, oats, barley, quinoa and buckwheat."

For calcium: "Good sources of calcium for vegans include:

  • tofu set with a calcium salt (check the label)
  • soy drinks with added calcium (look for 120mg calcium per 100 mL)
  • almonds
  • tahini
  • Asian greens, such as bok choy.

For vitamin B12, they reference the Vegan Australia reprint of the UK Vegan Society article What every vegan should know about B12.

Read the full article Vegetarian and vegan diets on Healthdirect.

Healthdirect's positive statements on vegan diets follow earlier statements by the Victorian government's Better Health Channel, which say "A well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can provide many health benefits, such as a reduced risk of chronic diseases, including: obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, some types of cancer. Vegetarians and vegans also have lower rates of illness and death from a number of degenerative diseases."

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