Protein is only found in meat

From protein to B12: do people need meat?

A kind of religious war has broken out between vegans and meat eaters. Completely wrong: Studies have long shown what is true of the mutual allegations.
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Vitamin D, iodine, calcium, protein, iron or at least vitamin B 12: the list of nutrients that vegetarians and vegans are said to be deficient in is long. But do the claims stand up to critical scrutiny - or do they mainly serve as excuses for meat-eaters with a remorse? New vegetarians and vegans in particular can Half-truths about abstaining from meat unsettle. Lifeline therefore asked nutrition expert Dr. Roger Eisen asked what is true of the lack of myth.

The doctor gives the all-clear in a wide hallway. “Many myths about the vegetarian and vegan diet have meanwhile been refuted by studies. With a balanced and well thought-out vegetarian diet, including soy and pulses, there is usually nothing missing, ”says the Lifeline expert. According to Eisen, it is important to eat healthily overall and to avoid unhealthy vegetarian products such as too much sweets - i.e. not to become a so-called pudding vegetarian. Because a one-sided vegetarian diet threatens deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, iodine, calcium, vitamin D and B12.

Protein in abundance in legumes, nuts - and just about any vegetable

Protein, which in the minds of many people is still a unique selling point of steak and chicken wings, is found in more than sufficient quantities in plant-based food - and is not only found in tofu and other soy products. Other legumes as well as mushrooms and a wide variety of vegetables are extremely rich in protein. "A sufficient protein supply is no problem at all with a balanced, vegetarian lifestyle", explains Lifeline expert Roger Eisen - "There are bodybuilders who eat purely plant-based." Eggs are on the menu.

Calcium found in broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts

Vegans and ovo vegetarians not only do without meat, but also cheese, yoghurt, cream and everything else that is made from milk. However, they are in no way threatened with calcium deficiency if their diet is considered all in all. "Ovo-lacto vegetarians are often even better supplied with calcium than meat eaters"Reports Eisen. Vegans, on the other hand, suffered more often from calcium deficiency and as a result exposed themselves to an increased risk of osteoporosis (bone loss).

The doctor's advice to anyone who wants to eat a vegan diet: "Make sure you have good sources of calcium such as broccoli, Chinese cabbage and kale and, if necessary, have your blood values ​​checked." Soy milk and tofu are also good alternatives to dairy products. You can find an overview of calcium-rich foods here.

Iron is not only found in meat and spinach

While an undersupply of protein and calcium can be avoided relatively easily, things get a bit trickier with the trace element iron, which is essential for blood formation. "Iron from plant-based foods is absorbed more poorly by the body than from animal foods," explains the Lifeline expert - "however, vegetarians show no increased tendency to iron deficiency anemia. “Blood tests are still useful to prevent anemia.

In addition to meat, iron is mainly found in millet and the pseudo-grain quinoa, in nuts, kernels and green leafy vegetables. Women lose a lot of iron during their menstrual period and are therefore more at risk of deficiency.

Vitamin B 12 is given to vegans in tablets

The essential vitamin B12 or cobalamin is not of animal or vegetable origin. The precursor of the biologically active variant, the coenzyme B12, is produced exclusively by microorganisms that live in the digestive tract of animals or on unwashed vegetables. However, the synthesis only takes place in the animal's large intestine. However, the substance is absorbed in the ileum, the last section of the small intestine - the self-produced B12 is therefore of very little use to humans. Instead, it is easily usable in liver, muscle meat, eggs and dairy products.

"The main problem with vegans and partly also ovo-lacto-vegetarians remains the B12 deficiency", Eisen summarizes - and recommends that all plant eaters "regularly check their blood levels in order to identify and compensate for deficits". The vitamin is found in small amounts in fermented plant products such as sauerkraut - but in a form that the body cannot use either.

The compound is required for DNA formation. Thus, the vitamin is involved in cell division and the proper functioning of the nervous system. If the doctor discovers a deficiency in the essential substance, vegetarians and vegans have to take it with them Vitamin B12 tablets compensate.

The best iron suppliers

Vitamin D: mushrooms and sun for the bones

Many Germans lack vitamin D, which is produced in the skin under the influence of sun rays or found in mushrooms, for example. "This applies even to the meat-eating part of the population," explains the doctor. He therefore generally considers a substitution with a vitamin D preparation to be sensible.

Omega-3 fatty acids: walnuts and linseed oil are top performers

The much-vaunted omega-3 or "brain fatty acids" are found in fatty sea fish such as salmon. But what far less know: the oils from linseed, rapeseed, walnuts, chia and perilla contain far more of them. Nevertheless, at least flaxseed cannot completely replace the omega-3 supplier from the sea, according to a new study.

Whoever fears a shortage can do his Omega-3 fatty acids also made from tofu, soy and green vegetables. Colorful variety on the plate best protects against the lack of healthy fatty acids.

Iodine: found in sushi and iodized table salt

The human body needs the trace element iodine primarily to produce the thyroid hormones T3 and T4. If he does not get enough, a goiter initially forms due to the enlargement of the organ. In severe cases, iodine deficiency can even cause the widespread hypothyroidism. However, only a few foods contain the essential element, for example Sea fish and seaweedwho have favourited sushi rolls. If there is an iodine deficiency due to the daily diet, this can be compensated for with iodine-containing salt or, if necessary, with special preparations, explains Eisen.

"Who that full range of vegetarian foods exhausts - that is, eats vegetables, fruit, legumes, cereals, quinoa, amaranth, soy, nuts and kernels - there is no danger of that, ”says nutrition expert Eisen. It would be a little easier for non-vegans to provide their bodies with everything they need. Everyone who lives meatless should "avoid sugar and bad fats", he advises: "They are nutrient robbers!"

Lust for the flesh favors tumors

Numerous studies on the subject underpin the health benefits of avoiding meat. The more (red) meat and sausage someone consumes, the greater their risk of developing various types of tumors. Vegetarians also suffer less from lifestyle diseases of the cardiovascular system. However, the clear results are due in part to the fact that many Plant eaters are generally healthier live by smoking less and exercising more, for example.

It also suggests that vegans and vegetarians are more concerned about their diet, accumulate greater knowledge about it and for that reason alone eat healthier and more reflective. Incidentally, people who occasionally put meat or fish on their plates also have a clear health advantage over the daily meat eaters.