You can get enough iron from a plant-based diet
The NZ Vegetarian Society is reminding New Zealanders that they can get enough iron from vegetarian and vegan diets. It is Iron Awareness Week, and Kiwis are being encouraged to learn more about iron deficiency.
NZ Vegetarian Society spokesperson Philip McKibbin says vegetarian and vegan diets can be good for you and the planet:
‘The good news is that there is an abundance of options for plant-based iron-rich foods that are consistent with long-term healthful eating and environmental sustainability.’
Regular consumption of wholegrains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, iron-fortified cereals and green leafy vegetables provides an adequate iron intake.
Also, studies are showing that vegetarians who eat a varied and well-balanced diet are not at any greater risk of iron deficiency anaemia than non-vegetarians.
Mr McKibbin says it is important that vegetarians and vegans remember this, as there is a lot of misinformation circulating:
‘When it comes to healthful eating, well-planned vegetarian and vegan diets can give you everything you need.’
The Iron Awareness Week campaign, facilitated by the industry organisation Beef & Lamb New Zealand, draws attention to the issue of iron deficiency. While maintaining a healthy iron level is indeed essential – and although red meat does contain plenty of iron - there are concerns around red meat, which Beef & Lamb New Zealand is not highlighting:
• In 2015 the WHO (World Health Organization) classified red meat as group 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans. (Processed meat was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans.)
• Red meat is also a significant source of bad fats (cholesterol, saturated fat).
Mr McKibbin says it’s important that Kiwis are critical about the information they receive:
‘Not everyone sharing nutritional information has an interest in your well-being. If a person or a company is trying to sell you a product - like red meat - be wary of the information they’re giving you, and make sure you check that what they’re saying is true, and that they’re giving you the full picture.’