Dr. Gott: With variety, vegan diet highly healthy

DEAR DR. GOTT: I would like you to give us interested readers your opinion on the vegan diet.

There are members of my family who have taken on this way of eating for well over a year now. Yes, indeed, they have lost a lot of weight on it, but my concern is what it is doing or rather not doing for the body. Their color seems pale to me, for one thing, and when they come to my house, they eat whatever I have with gusto.

DEAR READER: I’m a bit confused. If they eat whatever you prepare, they are either being kind or they aren’t true vegans. This diet excludes all animal-derived ingredients such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Many vegans prefer not to eat any foods that use animal products as part of the processing, such as refined white sugar.

The diet includes soy milk, tofu, peanut butter, rice, beans, fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains. Almost all foods, with the exception of alcohol, fats and sugar provide some necessary protein to the daily diet.

People may make the decision to become vegans for a variety of reasons, such as health, weight loss or for the environment. Because the diet is relatively free of saturated fats and cholesterol, it’s an easy way to lose weight. The diet lacks vitamin D. A simple means of combating this is through exposure to sunlight. Calcium can be obtained through the inclusion of fortified orange juice, dark leafy green vegetables, tofu processed with calcium sulfate and more. In fact, orange juice fortified with calcium will provide 300 milligrams in one 8-ounce glass. The Recommended Daily Allowance for adults between the ages of 19 and 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day, an easy goal to achieve when dairy is part of the diet.

The key to a successful diet is variety. Those who follow it religiously can enjoy stir-fried vegetables, whole-wheat breads, dates, apples, frozen fruit desserts, tofu lasagna, soy iced cream, veggie burgers and a great deal more. I don’t know about you, but it sounds good to me. Therefore, while it’s not my choice, I must accept that some people prefer to follow veganism.

I do recommend a person check with his or her physician before making the dramatic change. People should make sure that they receive adequate vitamins and minerals daily and should undergo blood tests periodically to determine that they are neither anemic nor vitamin deficient.

To provide related information, I am sending you a copy of my health report, “Vitamins and Minerals.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed stamped No. 10 envelope and a $2 check or money order made payable to Newsletter and mailed to Newsletter, P.O. Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092-0167. Be sure to mention the title or print an order form off my website at www.AskDrGottMD.com.

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