Vegetarian Option Often Not the Healthy Option Says UK Nutritionist

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As we draw close to the UK's National Vegetarian Week, London Nutritionists Foods For Life say Â?Simply cutting the meat out of your diet is not enough to reach optimum healthÂ?

London Nutritionist Yvonne Bishop Weston BSc Dip ION admits over 95% of the patients she sees in her London Clinics are meat eaters and the few vegetarians she does see are usually “healthier than average.”

However she says “The trouble is that you need to put ‘better than average’ in perspective - the UK average diet is causing our nation a whole host of preventable diseases and problems such as infertility. I think vegetarians and vegans and the organisations and societies that represent them should set a much better example if they want to prove this is potentially the best diet on the planet.”

There needs to be more emphasis on the need for high quality mixed proteins and essential fatty acids in the diet. A lot of vegetarian literature leads you to believe you'll reach your daily quota of key nutrients almost by accident - it's simple but not quite that simple.

On a diet of coffee, toast, pizza, pasta and chips it just won't happen.

Sick Nation

Plant Based Nutrition and Health by Stephen Walsh Phd, a trustee of The Vegan Society, reveals that currently statistics based on The Oxford Study show the average vegan has the same overall death rate as healthy meat eaters.

The UK Department of Health recommends we should aim to consume five portions fruit and vegetables a day, in many other countries it’s ten portions. Only in Wales do they even come close to achieving the modest UK targets with just over four portions a day.

A recent study by The Institute of Optimum Nutrition of 37,000 people in the UK suggested 80% of the UK population consider themselves to be ill with problems ranging from migraines and digestive problems to skin complaints, energy and mood issues - all of which can be helped by better nutrition.

Vegetarian Cynicism

UK chef Jamie Oliver, and London nutritionists Gillian McKieth, Patrick Holford and Ian Marber The Food Doctor have done a lot of work in the UK to highlight the benefits of better nutrition but often many vegetarians don’t listen.

Many believe that all they need to do is cut out the meat and they are often cynical of official healthy eating messages.

Vegetarians are frequently subjected to multi million pound propaganda such as the recent “Milk Makes You Beautiful” campaign, or told by their doctors they must eat meat which is simply not true.

Vegetarian option not healthy option.

The other problem is the availability of nutritious food from restaurants and caterers – yes you can get a vegan all day breakfast in a Little Chef Roadside Café but it’s usually swimming in saturated fat and worse still full of dangerous hydrogenated trans fats.

Yvonne used to be a director for Cranks the original vegetarian health and vitality health food company and restaurant chain that started in London’s trendy Carnaby Street in 1961. As well as Nutritional Therapy Yvonne also provides catering consultancy services for some of the companies in the FT top 100, Worldwide investment banks in the City of London. Even here, at some of the best companies to work for in the UK, the nutritional content of the vegetarian offer in the on-sight catering facilities is woeful.

“People are choosing the vegetarian option thinking it’s healthier when quite often the dish is full of white carbohydrate, sugar, salt, saturated fat, hydrogenated fat and seriously lacking in any worthwhile protein – from a health perspective they may as well not have bothered”

A combination of ill-informed caterers and complacent vegetarians may result in a recipe for vegetarian and vegan disaster.

Editors Notes

Yvonne Bishop-Weston’s advice for healthy nutrition can be found in her new cookbook Vegan by Hamlyn with innovative healthy recipes and on her website below.

Yvonne Bishop-Weston’s Top Ten Tips for vegetarians can be found in the new guide from Vegetarian Guides - Vegetarian Britain.

Further guidance from Yvonne on healthy vegetarian diets can be found at

Pictures can be found at

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Tony Bishop-weston
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