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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    It is safe for a male to become vegan?

    I'm a male in my early thirties who plays sport and works out regularly. A friend has been encouraging me to go vegan, however I've heard that drinking Soy milk will increase estrogen in men.

    Is it safe for me to become a vegan and will it make it too difficult to get protein?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 1

    Thanks

    Mark Berriman

    Healthshare Member

    There are a lot of vegan athletes these days, including weight-lifters like Patrik Baboumian who lifted 550kg and carried it for over nine metres. The latest studies indicate that everyone who lives in a first world economy - from omnivore to vegan - gets more than enough protein if they eat a wide variety of foods. Soy beans are not the only source of protein as there are many varieties of legumes which provide protein and fibre, although there are a lot of soy products available. It is important, however, to have a reliable source of vitamin B12 either regularly from fortified foods or as a supplement as an insurance against any potential deficiency. Similarly iodine may be a concern, but this can be covered by including some sea vegetables in the diet. In all other respects there should be no problem.

    If you are worried about the low doses of oestrogen in soy you can always eat it in a fermented form such as tempeh and miso which overcomes this aspect.

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  • Clare Wolski

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm Clare and I'm a passionate Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD). I love empowering people with good nutrition information so they can make the best decisions ... View Profile

    Hi, 

    As Mark mentioned, many people can acheive a healthy diet and active lifestyle, while maintaining the philosophy of veganism. 

    When moving towards a vegan diet it is important to consider how we will consume adequate levels of the nutrients we usually source from animal products. These include protein, iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. 

    There are many plant based sources of these nutrients. For example, legumes are a good plant based sources of protien which are also high in fibre and iron. As Mark mentioned some nutrients such as vitamin B12 may require supplementation or fortification as they are harder to access from plants. 

    Also, people become vegan for a variety of health and ethical reasons. I think its good to consider whether becoming vegan is something that you really want do, for you own reason's.

    Working with and Accredited Practising Dietitan can help you to establish what your goals are, what your nutrient requirements are and how to get there in the healthiest way. 

    I hope this was helpful. 

    Clare Wolski
    Accredited Practising Dietitian
    www.healthyeatinghub.com.au/

  • Anonymous

    Not only is it safe for you to go vegan, a lot of studies are now showing that it is more safe than continuing to eat animal products, especially meat and dairy.

    Regarding soy, you don't have to drink soy milk as there are plenty of other plant based milks readily available. Most cafes have almond milk available for your coffee now, and some are even starting to add oat. At the supermarket, you can find almond, oat, rice, coconut, macadamia, I've even heard of hemp milk, although that might still be overseas. Good news is there are so many brands to try and each has a different taste, you'll be sure to find one that you like.

    However the estrogen in soy milk isn't bodily estrogen, it's actually phytoestrogen - the same phytoestrogen that is also found in most fruits and vegetables! If you've eaten a carrot before then you've been eating phytoestrogens all along! Soy milk comes from a bean. Just make sure your soy sources are organic and GMO free and you're all good.

    Regarding protein, it is actually found in many foods, not just meat. It's true that meat has more protein per weight, but vegetables actually have more protein per calorie, so as long as you're getting your minimum number of calories every day, you will be getting plenty of protein! Top sources include beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters, spinach, broccoli, peas, dark leafy greens, edamame, tempeh, tofu, seitan, flaxseed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini, hommus, sundried tomatoes, and plant based milks.

    This might help to put your mind at ease about plant based protein - think about where your meat get's its protein from? Many animals that are vegetarian are strong and healthy with adequate sources of protein from plant sources. The gorilla for example. Even cows with are supplemented with a lot of things such as B12, hormones and antibiotics, are not supplemented with protein.

    Speaking of B12, the only thing you do have to worry about as a vegan is now that you are no longer eating meat that is supplemented with B12, you will have to take the supplements directly. A simple sublingual spray or capsule will do the trick.

    Omega-3 you can obtain from flaxseeds, chia seeds, LSA, walnuts etc. which can all be added to cereals, salads, smoothies, porridge. Easy.

    As for being a vegan athelete - plenty of inspiration out there. Serena Williams, Carl Lewis, Mike Tyson, Patrik Barboumian, David Carter, Jehina Malik, Cam Awesome, Steph Davis, Tia Blanco, James Southwood, and lots more!

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