'It's Harder To Be Healthy On Vegan Diet' Warns UK Government Advisor

Henry Dimbleby, who is leading a review of England's food system, says it is especially hard for children to maintain good health while eschewing animal products
Vegan salad
All major nutritional bodies say it is possible to be healthy at all stages of life on a well-planned vegan diet (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

A government advisor has warned that it is 'harder to be healthy on a vegan diet - especially for children'.

Henry Dimbleby is leading a review of England's food system, which will reportedly 'lead to the first national food strategy in 75 years'. Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Times, he said he wanted to 'consider new ways of feeding Britain after it left the EU' - including clean meat, insects, and genetically-modified crops.

But he wrote off the idea that people should be encouraged to reduce or cut out animal products to save the planet, branding it 'prescriptive and nanny-state-ish'.

'Harder to be healthy'

"Veganism has been suggested as a solution to climate change but we are not going to tell everyone to become vegan," said Dimbleby, a meat eater, who co-founded fast-food chain Leon.

"People felt freaked out by that; it felt prescriptive and nanny-state-ish. You can be healthy eating a vegan diet, but among dieticians, it is accepted that it is harder, especially for children."

He supports the idea of cutting down on meat, and says the meat people consume in the future should be lab-cultivated or 'higher quality'.

Plant-based approach

"The evidence suggests that plant-based diets produce the fewest greenhouse gas emissions. Mr Dimbleby has said that climate change is the top priority, so his food strategy review should be more positive towards a plant-based approach," William Gildea, Campaigns and Policy Officer for The Vegan Society told Plant Based News.

"With time of the essence, government policy needs to throw its weight behind a plant-based approach to public-sector catering and farming policy. That's not prescribing individuals with diets, that's making sure policy is as environmentally-friendly as possible."

Vegan children

Vegan Society Dietician, Heather Russell, responded to Mr Dimbleby’s comments on a vegan diet being harder, especially for children adding: "Nutritional planning is important for everyone.

"We work with the British Dietetic Association to share the message that well-planned vegan diets can support healthy living in people of all ages. Nutrition guides for every stage of life are available at vegansociety.com/nutrition."

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Maria is the Editor of Plant Based News. A former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers. She was previously the editor of Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.

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