Choosing to exclude all animal products is a personal choice – it is not vital for good health. The majority of people in the UK include animal products such as red meat and dairy, and these can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. We get a significant proportion of nutrients such as iron and zinc from meat and meat products, and we need more research on the long-term effects of a vegan diet on health in larger population groups.
It’s important that those considering a vegan diet make sure it’s varied and balanced to provide all the nutrients needed, and to consider supplements and/or fortified foods to provide vitamin B12, which is generally only found naturally in animal foods. When looking at vegan or plant-based products, it shouldn’t be automatically assumed they are a healthy choice – it’s still important to check the label and avoid having those that are high in saturates, salt or added sugars too often.