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Home > Health Library > Vegan Diet
A vegan (say "VEE-gun" or "VAY-gun") diet is a total vegetarian diet. Besides not eating meat, vegans don't eat food that comes from animals in any way. That includes milk products, eggs, honey, and gelatin (which comes from bones and other animal tissue).
There are many reasons why some people choose a vegan diet:
If properly planned, a vegan diet can provide all the nutrients you need. In general, people who don't eat meat:footnote 1
Good health could be related to a diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Keep a balance
As a vegan, you can still eat a balanced diet.
You may be worried that you won't get all the nutrients you need with a vegan diet. But as long as you eat a variety of foods, there are only a few things you need to pay special attention to.
You can also get the vitamins and minerals listed above as supplements.
Like everyone else, vegans also need to make sure they get the following nutrients:
A well-planned vegan diet can be healthy for children. Young vegan children tend to be slightly smaller but still within normal growth ranges. And they tend to catch up to other children in size as they get older.
If you are raising a child on a vegan diet, consider the following:
With careful planning, a vegan diet can be very healthy for teens. In fact, it can be a great way to get them into a lifelong habit of healthy eating.
If your teen decides to become a vegan, teach him or her how to plan meals to get all the right nutrients every day. Teens need calcium and vitamin D. And iron is especially important for teen girls who are menstruating. Talk with your doctor about how much of these vitamins and minerals your child needs. Ask if your teen needs to take a daily supplement.
You may want your teen to talk to a registered dietitian to learn how to plan a healthy vegan diet.
It's important to find out why your teen wants to follow a vegan diet. Some teens adopt a vegan diet as a way to lose weight, and "being a vegan" can hide an eating disorder like anorexia.
Craig WJ, et al. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(7): 1266–1282. Available online: http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357.
Other Works Consulted
Craig WJ (2009). Health effects of vegan diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(5): 1627S–1633S.
Whitney E, Rolfes SR (2013). Vegetarian diets. In Understanding Nutrition, 13th ed., pp. 62–67. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Current as of:
December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineRhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Current as of: December 17, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
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