08 Aug 2017 --- A well-planned vegan diet can “support healthy living in people of all ages,” the British Dietetic Association (BDA), a professional association and trade union for dietitians, has affirmed in an official document.
The BDA has renewed its memorandum of understanding with The Vegan Society to state that a balanced vegan diet can be enjoyed by children and adults, including during pregnancy and breastfeeding, if the nutritional intake is well-planned. The memorandum is building upon the existing working relationship between the BDA and Vegan Society and the previous agreement about vegan diets in 2014.
“The BDA is one of the foremost providers of evidence-based information in the practice of dietetics and by collaborating with them, The Vegan Society wishes to reaffirm itself as not just an authority on veganism, but also on vegan nutrition,” says Heather Russell, a dietitian at The Vegan Society. “We want to reassure vegans that their lifestyle choice supports healthy living and give dietitians confidence to deliver reliable vegan-friendly dietetics advice.”
Andy Burman, BDA Chief Executive, said: “We are pleased to have renewed this memorandum with The Vegan Society, so that we can continue our positive working relationship.”
“It is important that people choosing to eat a vegan diet can get the right advice from the right sources, and know to visit a dietitian for advice on tailoring their nutrition and diet. The BDA will continue to work with The Vegan Society to promote this message.”
The document states the BDA and The Vegan Society will work together “to show that it is possible to follow a well-planned, plant-based, vegan-friendly diet that supports healthy living in people of all ages.” The organizations will also “promote reliable, evidence-based advice on a healthy vegan diet to members of the public, services users and medical professionals.”
Innova Market Insights research shows the extent of the growing popularity of plant-based diets: new product launches with plant-based claims have gone up almost seven times since 2011. In addition, plant milks and alternatives for meat are all showing strong growth, according to the 2017 list. The trend also highlights the fact that plant-based foods are becoming popular even with those who do not want to follow a full vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
“Plants are on trend,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights
“Diets high in plant protein, such as the vegetarian diet pattern, are associated with health benefits,” according to Anke Golde, Senior R&D Director for Sweet and Cereals for Kerry North America, speaking during a NutritionInsight webinar.
“Studies suggest that vegetarians tend to have lower body weight, cholesterol and blood pressure levels. As a result, people who consume plant-based diets have been shown to be at lower risk for stroke and heart disease. The host of nutrients and phytonutrients found in plants are also associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers (AND 2016).”
However, it should not be assumed that all plant-based diets are equal in their health benefits. Some past studies have treated all plant-based foods as equal, but according to researchers, this is not the case. In fact, some plant-based diets that emphasize less healthy plant foods like sweetened beverages, refined grains and potatoes have been associated with a higher risk of heart disease.