become very popular, the vegan diet which consists of eliminating all food from animal exploitation, gaining more and more followers. Vegans therefore renounce meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, milk, honey and all other products of animal origin or requiring their exploitation. The menus are mainly composed of fruits, vegetables, cereals, seeds or pasta.
This diet therefore excludes a large part of the foods providing essential nutrients. The main risk is vitamin B12 deficiency, which is found only in animal protein. “Supplementation is therefore essential if you want to follow a vegan diet,” says Lamia Zinaï, dietitian and micronutritionist in Aix-en-Provence, to Medisite. In addition, special attention must be paid in the event of a desire for pregnancy. Indeed, a deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to a risk of malformations of the fetus, and in particular spina bifida. This is characterized by an absence of posterior closure of the bony canal (vertebral column) in which the spinal cord is located.
Otherwise, distrust of the foodstuffs you consume during this diet. Indeed, many so-called “vegan” foods appear on supermarket shelves, yet they can be counterproductive for weight loss purposes.
Even if steaks or vegan cheeses can replace the texture and taste of original foods, Raphaël Gruman, nutritionist, reminds us that they in no way have the same nutritional values. For instance, “vegetable steaks are often fattier and above all more carbohydrate than meat steaks”he reveals to Medisite.
Therefore, vegetable steaks do not prove to be a good alternative for weight loss. “It is true that traditional steaks only provide protein, between 20 and 100 grams, and only 5 grams of fat. But plant-based steaks are lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates and fats. So it turns out to be counterproductive for good weight loss.”
Calcium: vegan cheese does not replace classic cheese
For the nutritionist, the trend is also noticeable for vegan cheeses. “The same goes for vegetable cheeses which are fattier and more carbohydrate than classic cheeses. Produced from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk, they are devoid of carbohydrates”, underlines Raphaël Gruman.
Because, many vegan cheeses are made from starch and vegetable oils, in other words coconut oil or palm oil. Nevertheless, “ingested starch is broken down into sugar in the gut,” says Richard Hoffman, a nutritionist at the University of Hertfordshire, UK in The Conversation. “However, over time, the excessive starch consumption can lead to weight gaineven diseases such as type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
Vegan cheeses absolutely cannot replace classic cheeses, because they contain very little or no calcium, Raphaël Gruman, nutritionist.
In addition, excess vegetable oils can also be problematic. “For example, coconut oil is composed almost entirely of saturated fatty acids. However, some of them are linked to an increase in the level of “bad” cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease”, completes the English nutritionist. With regard to palm oil, the problem is the same since approximately “Half of the fatty acids in palm oil are saturated fatty acids. This increases the risk of coronary heart disease.”
In the long term, the low nutritional content of vegan cheeses can be bad for your health. “Vegan cheeses absolutely cannot replace classic cheeses, because they contain no or very little calcium. And even if they are enriched with calcium, it is vegetable calcium which is less well assimilated than calcium of animal origin. The risk may be demineralization. They are strictly prohibited for children or teenagers and I strongly advise against them for seniors who have increased calcium needs.
Food additives: vegan products could be harmful
To be able to compensate for the taste, texture or even the color of classic products, producers do not skimp on additive products of all kinds. “They definitely shouldn’t get into a feeding habit”, insists Raphaël Gruman. As a reminder, a food additive is a substance which is not usually consumed as food, but that is added as an ingredient to make a product in the food industry. Their presence in foodstuffs is always mentioned on the product label, in the list of ingredients: either by their E code, followed by 3 or 4 digits, or by their name.
They are often singled out because if consumed in large quantities, some may be harmful to health. “Additives are often criticized for being bad for your health, but in reality, it’s more complicated than that,” dietician Christine Savalli announced to Medisite. “Today, it is difficult to have hindsight, because there is a lack of studies, in particular on the interaction of additives with each other, even in small quantities. We must therefore pay attention to the cocktail effect and the quantities and frequencies of consumption”.
Of the 327 food additives authorized on the market, several dozen are suspected of being harmful to health and are advised against by many scientists and consumer associations.