Controversial Report Out of Germany Warns Against Vegan Lifestyle

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

It can be hard to keep up with all the varying diets out there, but veganism isn’t one that is bound to be here today, gone tomorrow. With any diet where you deviate from the norm, there are bound to be nutritional concerns, but a new paper published by the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has stirred up some controversy as they set their target on vegans, warning that it is nearly impossible to sustain a healthy life on the diet.

“it is difficult or impossible to attain an adequate supply of some nutrients”

The warnings aren’t new, but the strict stance by the DGE hits close to home as the vegan diet is quite rampant in parts of Germany, with Berlin often called the ‘vegan mecca’.

In their paper, the DGE summed up their stance with the following statement:

On the basis of current scientific literature, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) has developed a position on the vegan diet. With a pure plant-based diet, it is difficult or impossible to attain an adequate supply of some nutrients. The most critical nutrient is vitamin B12. Other potentially critical nutrients in a vegan diet include protein resp. indispensable amino acids, long-chain n-3 fatty acids, other vitamins (riboflavin, vitamin D) and minerals (calcium, iron, iodine, zinc and selenium). The DGE does not recommend a vegan diet for pregnant women, lactating women, infants, children or adolescents. Persons who nevertheless wish to follow a vegan diet should permanently take a vitamin B12 supplement, pay attention to an adequate intake of nutrients, especially critical nutrients, and possibly use fortified foods or dietary supplements. They should receive advice from a nutrition counsellor and their supply of critical nutrients should be regularly checked by a physician.

NPR reported on the claim of it being near impossible to obtain vital nutrients by reaching out to nutritionists from England and the US, and while everyone agreed that it would indeed be difficult without some forms of supplements, calling it impossible is a stretch.


Of course things do become a little more difficult when it comes to raising a child on a strict vegan diet, but there are widely available resources and guidelines available for parents to follow without sacrificing the child’s health and development.

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Sources: German Nutrition Society, NPR

Photo: © visitBerlin | Philip Koschel [Flickr]

Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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