Let’s talk about SSS…Vegan…baby!

The science of nutrition is always continuously changing. To tell you the truth, this is what I like the most in this field. I am always discovering and learning new terms even though I left university long way back. Nutrition can never be boring. However, one of the drawback of this constant evolution is that every single discovery or even statement can be scrutinized and unfortunately even fad diets get their share of the market.

You must have read somewhere that carbs are the devil and I’m sure even your gym coach may suffer from a headache if you print everything you read on the net. Believe me, there are days where I get some many queries on fad diets that my evening yoga session is not enough to relax my brain. What’s healthy seems to change so regularly, that even today’s experts won’t be able to forecast what will be next. Who would have ever thought that eating too much of butter would be fatal to our heart? Poor Us!

Today we come with another trend that I won’t say is new to us. Being a vegan existed for years. Yes, you read it right. As far back as 1806, there have been people who avoided the use of any animal products for food, clothing or labour even though that there had been no specific word to describe them. You must have encountered celebrities or even colleagues of yours who are now completely vegan and they will consequently convince everyone in the surrounding (including you) that it is important to remove all animal products from your diet. Some argue that it is the ultimate healthy diet for sustainable living and others do it in protest of animal maltreatment. I will totally agree with the last statement because I am myself against any violence inflicted to animals (and more to that; of humans). I do follow a vegetarian diet once per week and sometimes during the fasting season it can go for more days- I call that a Flexi-tarian diet.  I have always said, even in my previous articles that I like to venture on new diets. I did try the vegan diet but I must be honest – it lasted just a day. Dreams of my Roasted rosemary chicken with grilled butternut gratin and Rocket salad with feta cheese haunted me at night. I even committed the nutritionist SIN – yes I did open my fridge at midnight for a slice of cheese.

Vegans remove all dairy products from their diet which is where my biggest concern arise. This includes not consuming milk and milk products, cheese, butter and other dairy products. Removing dairy products can increase the risk of deficiencies in calcium and vitamin D in the body which are very important minerals for our bones. Relying on only green leafy vegetables are not enough.  For example, you will have to consume about 1.5-2kg of spinach to get the daily recommendation for calcium. Another major concern is the risk in Iodine, Zinc and Iron deficiencies. Iodine and zinc are more readily available in seafood and a deficiency in iodine can lead to thyroid disease which is becoming common in Mauritius and is known to be a precursor of diabetes. We are also having more iron-deficient girls in our country which will eventually become alarming for child-bearing in the future. Unfortunately dietary pills are not always effective and are used only as supplements and not as a complete source.

Inhumane farming practices that disturb the health of animals, humans and even the planet can never be tolerated but vegan is not the only solution to this problem as it goes further to this. Unfortunately being vegan in Mauritius can be very complicated as we do not have many fortified products, except if you find time to cook everything. The costs could be high as well. Consuming dairy products are very important and relying only on soy or almond milk sometimes are not enough. If you still want to follow a vegan diet, please make sure you consult a dietitian/nutritionist on the matter as basically if you eat chips and ketchup every day you are technically following a vegan diet but not very healthy for your body.

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