Written by Patricia Pauyo | Reviewed by Nikita Kapur MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
True or False: We should cut out all animal products from our diet
The answer: False!
If you’ve watched or heard about the new Netflix documentary”What the health” by Kip Andersen, you might be tempted to throw out all animal products you have in your fridge and adopt a vegan or vegetarian diet. But before embarking on an animal product free diet, here are a few points to consider.
Fruits and Vegetables are key!
As mentioned in the documentary, high consumption of fruits and vegetables is key to a healthier lifestyle. However, results from studies supported the idea that it is not necessary to follow one particular diet plan to achieve health. It is more beneficial to increase our consumption of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, fish or omega 3 fatty acids for our well-being.
It’s not for everybody!
While reducing the amount of animal product in our diet may be beneficial, the same practice may not necessarily apply for everybody. Adapting a vegan diet requires a lot of time and thoughtful meal planning to ensure adequate needs are being met. It often can be costly for some and can lead to deficiencies in certain nutrients, especially vitamin B12. It is definitely realistic to receive all your nutrition from a plant based diet as long as you’re well informed, prioritize planning and are focusing on whole foods.
There are some beneficial nutrients in animal products too!
Yes. Research has shown that a diet high in plant-based foods is key to a healthier lifestyle with low risk of chronic diseases. However, there are many beneficial nutrients that we can get from quality animal products that are minimally processed like iron, B vitamins, high quality lean protein. Animal products are affordable and accessible source of protein for many people but the key is to consume them in moderation and reduce consumption of processed meats and animal products.
Quality and Quantity matters!
What is important to remember is to eliminate or limit our intake of processed animal products. These contain a lot of empty calories, sugars, and many artificial ingredients that can be detrimental to our health as the documentary mentioned. We should aim for natural and fresh meat products (grass fed, pastured, wild caught, etc.) that are consumed at a moderate to low quantity.
So if you are having some thoughts about adapting to a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, remember to make sure that this change is feasible, adequate and sustainable for your lifestyle and dietary needs. Consulting a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you. Overall, reducing meat consumption and choosing high quality animal products can be beneficial to the environment and us.