In order to cope with so many different opinions and suggestions, it makes sense to orientate oneself on simple, scientific facts, which bring the myth "vegan is unhealthy" quickly to fall. The large international nourishing societies took up in their position papers that a well planned vegan diet is not only healthy, but beyond that it can be used both in prevention and partly in therapy of lifestyle diseases (civilization diseases).
Availability of nutrients
There is no nutrient that is exclusively found in animals. All nutrients come from plants and can also be absorbed by us directly, without the detour via animals. Only vitamin B 12 should be supplemented. Farm animals are supplemented with other minerals and vitamins, as well as vitamin B 12 or the basic substance cobalt.
Avoid unhealthy food
By avoiding animal products, we consume very low saturated fats, no cholesterol (which we produce ourselves), no trans fats (if we avoid hydrogenated fats), no arachidonic acid that promotes inflammation, no purines that can lead to gout, no antibiotic
Proteins? No problem.
In a purely plant-based, wholefood diet, we consume above all complex carbohydrates, absolutely sufficient proteins, above all mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, a higher content of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals), fibre and secondary plant substances and antioxidants.
The Game Changers
on Netflix, PrimeVideo, YouTube, iTunes, GooglePlay, Vimeo, Vudu, DVD
The documentary is about top athletes who have consciously decided to eat an exclusively plant-based diet. With this step they act against the common opinion that the consumption of meat is crucial for the success of top athletes. The documentary is in English - but there are subtitles in many languages.
What the Health
The documentary deals with the various factors responsible for lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, overweight, cancer or diabetes. It shows what can be done to prevent and treat them. The filmmaker confronts representatives of major corporations, health organizations and the pharmaceutical industry with uncomfortable questions.
TED-Talk by Dr. Greger
Founding member and Fellow of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Michael Greger, MD, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. His free website NutritionFacts.org features 2,000 health topics with new videos and articles uploaded every day.
Due to the conditions under which they are kept, the animals, which are very susceptible to diseases due to breeding, are necessarily treated with antibiotics again and again. This affects poultry farming the most. Due to resistances, reserve antibiotics are already being used. This also reduces the range of antibiotics available to us. Further consequences of this attitude are multi-resistant germs.
Transmission of viruses
The contact between humans and animals (via fodder, wild animal markets) also leads to the transmission of viruses. This has already led to dangerous diseases for humans. These cross-species diseases (zoonoses) pose massive problems for us, our healthcare system and our economy. Examples of these diseases are measles, smallpox, whooping cough, typhoid flu, leprosy, tuberculosis, and probably also Covid-19.
In 2004, the WHO (World Health Organization), FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and OIE (World Organization for Animal Health) published a joint declaration stating that the causes of zoonotic diseases are mainly due to the increasing demand for animal protein and the intensive animal production systems associated with it. It is expected that more and more diseases will emerge in the future.
Here you can find out what functions the several nutrients have in our body and in which plant foods they can be found. (This information has been checked by Sabine Gräfe, certified vegan nutritionist – if you have any questions about your health and nutrition, please contact your doctor).
Proteins consist of amino acids. Of the approximately 320 known amino acids, 21 can be used to form proteins. And only 9 of them actually have to be absorbed with our food. The supplied proteins are again split into amino acids in the digestion and reassembled to form endogenous proteins.
Good protein sources: Hülsenfrüchte (reich an Lysin), Getreide (reich an Methionin), Pseudogetreide (Amaranth, Quinoa), Nüsse (Mandeln, Walnüsse), Samen, Sprossen, grünes Blattgemüse, Brokkoli, Avocado, Karotten, Tomaten
Tip: For the supply of proteins, foods that complement each other in terms of their amino acid profile should be combined. These are, for example, legumes with cereals. This can happen in the course of the day and does not have to be done in one meal. Soya, quinoa, buckwheat, chia seeds, hemp and spirulina provide a complete coverage of all essential amino acids with an equivalence to eggs and milk on their own.
Carbohydrates are simple or complex sugars. They exist in different forms and are produced by plants through photosynthesis. Our body is also able to produce glucose itself in times of lack of supply. This goes from emptying the corresponding stores to using other macronutrients, which then can no longer perform their actual task. It therefore makes sense to supply the body with its "fuel" regularly.
Main function: supply of energy.
Good carbohydrate sources: Potatoes, grains, pseudo grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet), legumes
Tip: The most favourable carbohydrates are the complex sugars, which can only be broken down gradually in our digestive tract. These occur in the plants as starch. Unfavourable are refined sugars, e.g. in the form of household sugar, which can be absorbed very easily and thus causes the blood sugar level to rise rapidly.
Fats consist of fatty acids with carbon chains of different lengths. We can produce most of the different fatty acids, as well as cholesterol, ourselves. An additional supply of these fats is not very beneficial or even unfavourable for our health. We cannot produce polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 ourselves.
Main function: Supply and storage of energy, building material in cell walls, production of hormones
Good sources of fat: Oil seeds (linseed, chia seed, hemp seed), avocados, nuts, vegetable oil (sparing), enriched microalgae oil (DHA/EPA)
Tip: The daily intake should only make up 30 % of the nutritional energy. The focus should be on mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3, DHA/EPA). Processed/hardened fats should also be avoided.
Iron is a mineral that occurs in various forms and is the most deficient nutrient worldwide. In animal organisms it occurs as haem iron. Due to its structure it is easier to absorb, but this does not mean that it is healthier. A high intake of haem iron is associated with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer. In plants it is present as non-haem iron. There are both substances that make absorption difficult and substances that significantly increase absorption. An important factor here is the iron status.
Main function: transport of oxygen in the blood, important role for immune defence and brain function.
Good iron sources: Pulses ((soya-)beans, lentils, chickpeas), nuts (pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts), oilseeds (sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp, flaxseed, cocoa), Whole grain cereals (oat flakes, spelt), pseudo cereals (millet, amaranth, quinoa), vegetables (kale, rocket, lamb's lettuce, zucchini), dried fruits (apricots, peaches, dates)
Tip: Do not drink coffee/tea with meals, add vitamin C to the food for better absorption.
Calcium is the quantitatively most important mineral in the human body. It is a basic building block of bones and teeth. Most people consider cow's milk an indispensable supplier of calcium. However, 3/4 of the world population is lactose intolerant a after being weaned off. The role of cow's milk is therefore completely secondary. Calcium comes into the animals via the vegetable feed and we can also get it very well from plants. The calcium in plants is in many cases equivalent, in many plants it is sometimes twice as much bioavailable as in cow's milk. As with iron, there are some substances that inhibit or promote absorption.
Main function: Building material for bones and teeth, blood coagulation, muscle contraction, transmission of stimuli in the nervous system.
Good sources of calcium: dark green leafy vegetables (broccoli, kale, pak choi, rocket), wild herbs (dandelion, nettles), pulses (chickpeas, soya), dried fruits (figs, dates), seeds (sesame, chia, hemp, poppy), nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts), pseudo-cereals, mineral water (> 400 mg/l)
Tip: Do not drink coffee/tea with meals, add vitamin C to the food
Vitamin B12 is not produced by plants or animals, but by microorganisms. In plants it is not found in significant quantities, but in animals it is found in larger quantities in the intestines, especially in the liver. Since offals are rarely on the menu and the absorption of vitamin B12 can be disturbed by various factors, a deficiency is not as rare as is assumed and is by no means limited to vegans. The body can store vitamin B12 for a certain period of time (about 3 to 5 years). A deficiency can lead to irreversible damage (e.g. anaemia, neurological disorders).
Main function: DNA synthesis, cell division, blood formation, brain and nerve functions, certain degradation processes (detoxification) bestimmte Abbauprozesse (Entgiftungen)
Good vitamin B12 suppliers: supplements, fortified food products, algae or toothpaste can support
Tip: Check status regularly (annually) by means of suitable blood tests (Holo-TC). Synthetic forms such as cyanocobalamin are processed by the body just as well as the natural and active forms. In case of disturbed absorption, intake in the form of lozenges can be helpful.
We primarily produce vitamin D ourselves. However, in our latitudes (usually too little UVB radiation) and with our lifestyle (skin covered by clothing, increased indoor exposure), the self-synthesis is often insufficient, which is why vitamin D is a critical nutrient for the entire population. It could be covered by a daily portion of cod liver oil or fatty sea fish, but this is unrealistic.
Main function: bone health, calcium metabolism, immune defence, cancer prevention, muscle functions Immunabwehr, Krebsprävention, Muskelfunktionen
Good sources of vitamin D: Self-synthesis under ideal conditions, supplements, fortified foods can support
Tip: Bioactive vitamin D 3 is now also available from plants (lichens).
Dietary fibres are indigestible multiple sugars in the cell walls of plants. Although they have no nutritional value, among other things they bind foreign substances/toxins, improve intestinal health, ensure satiety and a more constant blood sugar level. 3/4 of the German population does not reach the recommended intake level. Vegans are usually even well above the minimum recommendation.
Good fibre suppliers: Fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, wholemeal products, nuts, seeds and pulses
Secondary plant substances
Secondary plant substances are repellents, dyes and fragrances of plants. They can also fulfil important functions in humans: boosting the body's defences, protecting against infections with fungi, bacteria or viruses, lowering cholesterol levels, lowering blood sugar and blood pressure and preventing vascular blockages and even cancer.
Good secondary plant substance suppliers: vegetables, fruit, potatoes, pulses, nuts and wholemeal products
Try it out
Graphic: Iron content of selected plant foods per 100 grams. An average adult needs about 10 to 15 mg of iron per day, pregnant women up to 30 mg and children at least 10 mg.
- Pumpkin seeds – 12.5 mg
- Sesame – 10 mg
- Oat flakes – 5,8 mg
- Tofu – 3.7 mg
Calcium containing food
Graphic: Calcium content of selected plant foods per 100 grams. An average adult needs about 1000 mg of calcium per day, infants from 600 mg and teenagers up to 1200 mg.
- Sesame seed – 783 mg
- Calcium-rich mineral water (1 L) – 500 mg
- Almonds – 252 mg
- Vegetable milk with calcium – 120 mg
Protein containing food
Graphic: Protein content of selected vegetable foods per 100 grams. We need about 0.9 g of protein per kilogram of body weight. At a weight of 65 kg, this is about 58 g per day and at 85 kg about 76 g.
- Pumpkin seeds – 35 g
- Peanuts – 25 g
- Seitan (prepared) – 18 mg
- Soya slices – 16 g