In America, veganism is commonly associated with yoga, wheat grass shots, and overall clean living, but could a diet absent of animal products actually be a hazard to your health? According to the German government, the answer is yes.
Based on a statement authored by the German Nutrition Society, the German government condemned the vegan diet, calling it a poor source of nutrition for young children and pregnant/nursing mothers.
The report argued that a “purely plant-based diet makes it more difficult to give the body some of the important nutrients it needs,” and that “the adequate supply of other nutrients is compromised by a strict vegan diet.” The German Nutrition Society was particularly concerned with the absence of vitamin B12, whose primary source is animal products. Research confirmed that a vegan diet needs to supplement this crucial micronutrient, but this can be done through either vitamins or fortified foods.
While acknowledging that vegans can have longer lifespans, the report argues that this is merely a result of an overall healthier lifestyle that includes more exercise, less smoking, and less alcohol. The irony here is that Germany’s capital city, Berlin, is the unofficial capital of veganism in Europe with more than 10 percent of the population identifying as vegan. The city even hosts a massive annual animal-free food festival called Veganes Sommerfest.
Why would the German government suddenly come out against veganism? The answer might be linked to the recent struggles of Germany’s beef and dairy industries. In May of 2016, German agriculture officials met with dairy farmers to discuss how the dramatic fall in milk prices might require the government to purchase surplus dairy. A vegan diet obviously comes into direct conflict with the dairy industry, which relies on the sale of both dairy products and beef. Germany is the second largest producer of beef cattle and the largest producer of pork in the European Union. The unfavorable image of meat propagated by the vegan movement could result in the industry losing crucial public support.
As the popularity of veganism continues to threaten traditional livestock and other agricultural industries, the movement away from meat will face increasing opposition from governments and businesses affected.