Bad News For Vegetarians

vegetable protein

Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?

Apparently a vegatearian diet can lead to certan types of malnutrition and increased risk of cardio-vascular disease.

A study of 24 rural male subjects 18 to 30 y old and 15 urban male controls was conducted in the Sahel region of Chad. Food consumption was determined from a dietary questionnaire, and overall health status was assessed by body weight, body mass index, serum albumin, plasma transthyretin, urinary nitrogen, and creatinine. …….

The low dietary intake of protein and sulfur amino acids by a plant-eating population leads to subclinical protein malnutrition, explaining the origin of hyperhomocysteinemia and the increased vulnerability of these vegetarian subjects to cardiovascular diseases.

The gist of the article is interesting, but I don’t think the findings are very applicable to people who read this blog. The food environment people face in a developing country is a lot different that people in the west, so being a vegetarian means very different things for them than for us.

Western Vs. Developing Diet

In Chad being a vegetarian probably equates to “we snack on plants because there’s nothing else to eat”, and is not a lifestyle decision people deliberately make.

In the study the dietary problems came from a lack of amino acids that contained sulfur. These amino acids are considered “essential” amino acids because the body can’t produce them by itself, so they have to supplied through a diet. In western diets this is usually not a problem, and almost any combination of unprocessed complex carbohydrates will give you enough if eaten regularly.

 

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Comments

  1. Don Randall says:

    I’ve been vegan for over 10 years and the single nutrient that’s not found in vegetarian diets is vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is created by a biological interaction between microbes and fertile soil, so traditionally people could be vegetarian without being susceptible to anemia. In addition, people used to drink unpasteurized milk which was a good source of B12, but not so for pasteurized milk. Another factor is the age a person converts to a vegan diet. The older a person is at the time of conversion, the more likely they are to have problems with non-heme iron; however, there’s relatively inexpensive supplements that make converting to veganism practically risk free. I’d appreciate your opinions on the subject. Thanks.

    • Jonathan Bechtel says:

      Don,

      Good comments. I’ll be happy to provide my comments/thoughts on that in detail. Will do it on the blog for all to see w/ in a week.

Trackbacks

  1. […] == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Are vegans and vegetarians at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?Don from the comments asks:I’ve been vegan for over 10 years and the single nutrient that’s not found in vegetarian diets […]

  2. […] == "undefined"){ addthis_share = [];}Do Vegans and Vegetarians Get Enough Iron?From the comments:The older a person is at the time of conversion, the more likely they are to have problems with […]

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