Healthy Living
 
Ask the Vegan Dieticians:Amanda Benham, R.D. &Reed Mangels, PhD., R.D   


With the world’s population turning more and more toward vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, many people are seeking guidance in meeting all their nutritional needs on a meat-free and dairy-free diet. Our guests today can assure you that a plant-based diet is nutritionally sound at all stages of the human lifecycle.

Ms. Amanda Benham is a vegan and Accredited Practicing Dietitian from Australia and the only person in her field recognized by the Dietitians’ Association of Australia as an expert in vegetarian nutrition. Ms. Benham will share with us how she learned to create a nutritionally balanced diet when she first stopped eating meat. Ms. Benham is a vegan who holds many degrees in nutrition, including a graduate diploma in human nutrition and another in nutrition and dietetics and a master’s degree in health science. We will also hear from Dr. Reed Mangels, a vegan and registered dietitian with a PhD. in nutrition later on in the show. 

HOST: 
Like many people, Amanda Benham was first drawn to pursue a vegan diet due to her compassion for animals.
 

Amanda (f):
Originally, I wanted to become a vet and so I studied veterinary science, and part of that involved going out to factory farms and also to slaughterhouses. And after that experience, really confronted with where our food came from, I couldn’t eat meat anymore.

HOST: 
One of the best ways for individuals to answer their nutritional questions is to consult with a pure vegetarian or egan registered dietitian. Another option is to read books and other literature by vegan and vegetarian dietitians. 

Medical professionals including doctors, nurses and non-vegetarian dietitians can also benefit from the many scientific resources offered by the American Dietetics Association (ADA), the Dietitians of Canada and the ADA’s Vegetarian Nutrition dietetic practice. 

Amanda (f):
Initially, I didn’t know what to eat and so I started reading about it. But what I found was that people kept asking me, “Where do you get your protein? Where do you get your iron? You’re going to become ill.”

And I was determined that I wasn’t going to become ill so I started studying nutrition and ultimately ended up becoming a dietitian.

Supreme Master TV  (f):
Where did you find the research to support that going vegetarian was healthy?

Amanda (f):
There is actually plenty out there. There is quite a bit of research, especially that’s being done in the United States and Canada and Europe as well.

HOST: 
Ms. Benham also offers some great beginning tips for new vegetarians and vegans.

Amanda (f):
Becoming a vegetarian should be about trying out a whole lot of new foods and a new way of eating, not just cutting things out, otherwise, the diet can be too restrictive. So try new recipes and get on the net and just mix with other vegetarians as well, because I think that’s a helpful way for people to find out more about what to eat.

As far as nutritionally, people often think protein is a big issue. Protein is not a really big issue but instead of meat, people need to eat things like legumes, which is like your lentils and beans and things like that. Or there’s lots of different meat substitutes made now. Soy products like tofu and TVP are really good. And nuts are good too. So they’re all good sources of not only protein but iron and zinc, which often people think you can only get from meat.

Supreme Master TV (f):
And how about if you decide to go vegan, what are some good ways to get calcium into your diet?

Amanda B (f):
Some foods have added calcium. Like in this country, some juices, orange juice some of them are calcium fortified. Some of the soy milks are as well. So vegans need to just read the labels, and also taking calcium supplements if they’re concerned, especially like women that may be considering having children, or older women could be well-advised to do that in my opinion.

Supreme Master TV (f):
Cows get their calcium from grass, how effective is it to just eat greens?

Amanda (f):
That’s true. There is quite a bit of calcium in grains, also in almonds, and in soy products. So calcium isn’t exclusive to dairy products So finding other sources of calcium is a good idea.

Amanda (f):
What’s being found is that vegetarian and vegan diets are very good for controlling obesity, and that’s a really big issue, especially obesity, diabetes, that type of thing, heart disease. So I recommend that everybody just eat more plant foods. Less food from animals is the way to go.

HOST: 
One of the first sources from which Ms. Benham learned about vegetarian nutrition was a report published by the Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetics Association, including several joint position papers on vegetarian and plant-based vegetarian diets. 

When Healthy Living returns, we will speak with Dr. Reed Mangels, one of the report’s authors. Please keep your dial tuned here to Supreme Master Television.

HOST: 
Welcome back to Healthy Living on Supreme Master Television. Dr. Reed Mangels is a vegan and registered dietitian with a PhD. in nutrition. Dr. Mangels is co-author of a position paper written by the American Dietetics Association and the Dietitians of Canada on vegetarian and vegan diets.

She is also a nutritional consultant to the U.S.-based Vegetarian Resource Group, and a nutritional editor and author for the Vegetarian Journal. Dr. Mangels will point us to resources for medical professionals whose patients are interested in adopting vegetarian or vegan diets.

Supreme Master TV (m):
Can we really meet all of our needs on a vegetarian diet and a vegan diet?

Reed Mangels (f):
We can certainly meet all of our needs on a vegetarian or a vegan diet. This was examined carefully by the American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada, when we developed the American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada's position paper on vegetarian diets.
 
The paper includes about 250 references and then there were others that we read for background. And the conclusion, based on all of the scientific research was that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. 

And then the paper goes on to look at whether vegetarian and vegan diets are nutritionally adequate for pregnant women and for babies and children and concludes that indeed they are.

Supreme Master TV (m):
Very good. What kind of resources do the American Dietetic Association and the Dieticians of Canada provide to vegans and vegetarians and actually to anybody who wants to find out information about the vegan or vegetarian diet?

Reed Mangels (f):
The American Dietetic Association and Dieticians of Canada position paper is primarily aimed at healthcare practitioners like dieticians, physicians and others with more of a strong scientific background. For those people it does offer the latest in scientific research on vegetarian diets. It is accompanied by a vegetarian food guide, which is like a food guide pyramid for vegetarians that I and the other co-authors developed.

There are a lot of other resources that are not strictly from the American Dietetic Association that would be perhaps more user friendly to people without a science background
that want to know more about vegetarianism.

Supreme Master TV (m):
Can you recommend any?

Reed Mangels (f):
The first one I'd recommend is the group that I work for, the Vegetarian Resource Group, [which] has an excellent website www.vrg.org, which has all sorts of resources on how to be a healthy vegetarian or healthy vegan regardless of how old or young you are or whether you're an athlete or not and all sorts of other things. So that would be one very good starting place.

There are a number of books that I would recommend on vegetarianism – one is Simply Vegan which I co-authored, it's a combination cookbook with a nutrition section. There’re also two books: Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan, which are written by other registered dieticians, one of whom co-authored the position paper with me. Her name is Vesanto Melina. And those would also be wonderful resources.

HOST: 
Dr. Mangels, Ms. Benham, the American Dietetics Association, and the Dietitians of Canada all emphasize that well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets can meet all human nutritional needs.
 

Amanda (f):
There’s no evidence that vegetarians have problems with either iron or protein. Vegetarians need to be more aware of vitamin B12. They do need to supplement with that or have fortified foods that have vitamin B12 added. And, vitamin D, which we can get from the sun, but if someone’s not getting out in the sun much, they need to be careful of vitamin D as well.

HOST:
Dr. Mangels ended with these words of advice to those interested in trying to eat a compassionate, pure vegetarian or vegan plant-based diet.
 

Reed Mangels (f):
I would just encourage people to try a vegetarian diet for a month and I think if you do it and you pay attention to making sure you're getting enough of the right foods you'll feel better and you'll really feel like you're making a contribution to the planet’s health and your own health and the animal’s health and I think it's just a wonderful thing to do!

HOST:
We thank you for your presence with us today on Healthy Living.



 
  
 
 
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