Vegetarian Position Paper

June 02, 2003

Going Vegetarian? Dietitians Of Canada & The American Dietetic Association officially agree that veg diets are nutritious.

In a joint statement, published in the June 2003 issue of Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research and the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, DC and ADA say:

It is the position of Dietitians of Canada and the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

See also: Canada Food Guide increases veg compatibility, Vegetarian Nutrition Facts

Highlights

• A vegetarian diet has numerous health benefits such as lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of carbohydrates, fibre, magnesium, potassium, folate and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E.

• Approximately 4% of Canadian adults and 2.5% of adults in the United States follow vegetarian diets and interest is on the rise. Slightly less than 1% of those polled were vegans. But 20 to 25% of adults in the United States report that they eat four or more meatless meals weekly or “usually or sometimes maintain a vegetarian diet.”

• Interest in vegetarianism appears to be increasing, with many restaurants and college foodservices offering vegetarian meals routinely. Substantial growth in sales of foods attractive to vegetarians has occurred, and these foods appear in many supermarkets.

• Vegetarians have been reported to have healthier body weight than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels and lower rates of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and prostate and colon cancer.

• The paper reviews the current scientific data related to key nutrients for vegetarians, including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B-12, vitamin A, n-3 fatty acids, and iodine. A vegetarian, including vegan, diet can meet current recommendations for all of these nutrients.

• Sources of vitamin B-12 include fortified foods (such as some brands of soymilk, breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast), supplements, dairy foods and eggs. Unless fortified, no plant food contains significant amounts of active vitamin B-12.

• If sun exposure and intake of fortified foods are insufficient, vitamin D supplements are recommended.

• Well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle (including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence).

• Just as with a meat-based diet, the key to ensuring the body meets all its nutritional needs is to choose a wide variety of foods.

Link to the full position paper, or view as a 20-page pdf.

Dietitians of Canada is the voice of more the 5000 dietitians in Canada, one of the largest organizations of dietetics professionals worldwide.

With nearly 70,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. Based in Chicago, ADA serves the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being.

Based on a June 2, 2003 Dietitians of Canada news release.