"...excessively high ratios of phytate to zinc can reduce zinc
absorption; this can occur when unleavened bread is a mainstay or
when substantial amounts of raw wheat bran are added as a supplement.
The addition of raw wheat bran to a plant-based diet is neither
necessary nor advisable." (page 69)
"The absorption of minerals is affected by the amount of phytate
present in the intestinal contents. If the diet contains marginal
levels of minerals - such as iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc -
the extra phytate introduced with the bran might bind enough of
the minerals to cause mineral deficiency." (page 128)
1. "When Canadians have trouble consuming the recommended two -
four serving of milk products how likely is it they'll start eating
seaweed?" [referring to a quote about some natural sources of vitamin
In the vitamin D section of the text we have a short paragraph
on natural food sources of vitamin D following a discussion of vitamin
D-fortified foods. By taking our words out of context, our critics
make it sound as though we were advising people to rely on seaweed
as a vitamin D source. Here is what was actually said:
"There is little doubt that before the era of vitamin supplementation
and food fortification, sunlight was the major provider of vitamin
D for most of the world's population. Vitamin D is naturally present
in few foods. Fish oils are a notable exception...The exposure of
certain plant foods to ultraviolet light has also been demonstrated
to produce a form of vitamin D (vitamin D2). for example, certain
seaweeds, dried in the sun, have shown vitamin D2 activity."
In our discussion about getting enough vitamin D from foods, the
only foods we recommend as reliable sources for vegetarians are
those foods fortified with this nutrient.
2. "Why eliminate a perfectly acceptable food source from the diet
in order to follow a restrictive dietary regimen? Only two pages
before, in their discussion of calcium, the authors acknowledged
that "supplements...should not be assumed to be adequate replacements
for real food." If vegan can't get vitamin D from their diets, perhaps
they should take a page from their lactovegetarian brothers and
sisters and admit dairy products back into their diets. Two pages
later, this statement appears: "You can choose sunlight, fortified
foods, supplements or a combination." We have an excellent suggestion
for a vitamin D-fortified food...Milk!"
This paragraph beautifully illustrates our motivation for including
the section "'Reasons why people limit or eliminate dairy products".
What our critics don't seem to understand is that dairy foods are
far from being "a perfectly acceptable food source" for vegans.
Indeed, dairy foods are as unacceptable to vegans as meat is to
vegetarians. Making these kinds of statements demonstrates a lack
of regard for the values and beliefs of this group of people --
we find it both offensive and completely inappropriate from health
Milk is an excellent source of vitamin D because it is fortified
with that nutrient. An excellent suggestion for a vitamin-D-fortified
food for a vegan would be a fortified non-dairy beverage, such as
those widely available in the U.S., but as of yet are not permitted
in Canada. Thus, Canadian vegans must rely primarily on sunshine
and supplements until such time as these laws are changed.
2. "Unfortified soy beverages contain only about half of the phosphorus,
40% of the riboflavin, 10% of the vitamin A, 3% of the calcium,
and none of the vitamin B12 found in a serving of cow's milk...The
amino acid profile of milk is ideal for calcium utilization: it
has a high proportion of lysine which enhances calcium utilization
and a low proportion of methionine and cysteine, which decrease
While the Dairy Bureau nutritionists spend some time extolling
the virtues of cow's milk in favour of soy milk, there are a few
points they left out:
i/ phosphorus -- we get plenty of phosphorus in the diet, and possibly
even too much1,2. Providing only half the phosphorus of cows' milk
is an advantage, not a disadvantage.
ii/ vitamin A -- vitamin A is rarely of concern in a plant-based
diet. However, there is no reason it could not be added to non-dairy
beverages, just as it is added to low fat milks.
iii/ calcium -- While there are some unfortified soy beverages
that are low in calcium content, several of the more popular beverages
available in Canada provide considerably more than the 3% of the
calcium (9 mg) in milk mentioned by the Dairy Bureau dietitians.
The calcium content per cup is as follows:
· Edensoy -- 95 mg (32% of the calcium in milk )
· Vitasoy -- 76 mg (25% of the calcium in milk)
· Semblence -- 200 mg (67% of the calcium in milk)
iv/ protein -- Our critics state that the amino acid profile of
milk is ideal for calcium utilization because it contains a high
proportion of lysine and a low proportion of methionine and cysteine.
The implication is that this is an important advantage over soy
beverages. In fact, the lysine, methionine and cysteine content
of soy milk vs cow's milk are as follows3:
Milk (1 cup)
Meth + Cys
v/ There are several important advantages of soy milk over cow's
milk. If the government permitted the fortification of soy milk
as it permits the fortification of cow's milk, the advantages would
be even more pronounced.
· soy milk provides less saturated fat than cow's milk
(soy - 0.5 g; whole cow's 5.1 g; 2% cow's - 2.9 g)
· soy milk provides more essential fatty acids than
cow's milk (soy - 2.0 g; cow's < 0.2 g)
· soy milk is cholesterol-free, while cow's milk contains
34 mg of cholesterol per cup.
· soy protein lowers total and LDL -cholesterol levels
without adversely affecting beneficial HDL, while cow's milk protein
raises blood cholesterol levels.
· soy foods, including soy milk are one of the few foods
that provide appreciable amounts of phytoestrogens such as genestein
and daidzen which have been demonstrated to be anticarcinogenic
1. Calvo, M. and Park, Y. Changing phosphorus content of the U.S.
diet: potential for adverse effects on bone. Amer.Inst.Nutr. 1168(s)-1180(s),
2. Anderson, J. Calcium, phosphorus and human bone development.
Amer.Inst.Nutr. 1153(s)-1158(s), 1996.
3. Pennington, J.A. Bowes and Church's Food Values of Portions
Commonly Used. 16th Ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Company, 1993.
1. "According to these studies, the chart in Becoming Vegetarian,
the origin of which is unknown, appears to be inaccurate." [referring
to our chart on months without vitamin D production in three large
centres]. "A study by Holick evaluated the effect of season and
time of day in Boston (42º N)..." [a 1995 study is quoted].
The sources of our information on vitamin D were the most up to
date available at the time of writing our manuscript (our book was
published in 1994, a year before the 1995 study quoted by our critics).
The primary source of our information was research by Dr. Holick
and his colleges published in 1992.1 To insure that this material
represented the most up-to-date information available, we contacted
Dr. Holick personally. Dr. T.C. Chen, of Dr. Holick's laboratory
reviewed our chapter, with attention to the section on vitamin D.
In 1995, a year after our book was released, further research prompted
Dr. Holick's lab to issue modified guidelines which slightly differed
from the guidelines they previously advocated.2"
1. Lu, Z., Chen, T.C., Kline, L., Markstad, J., Pettifor, J., Ladizesky,
M., Mautalen, C. and Holick, M. Photosynthesis of previtamin D in
cities throughout the world. Biologic Effects of Light, Proceedings
of a Symposium, Atlanta Georgia, USA and Walter de Gruyter, Berlin,
New York, USA, 1992.
2. Holick, M. Environmental factors that influence the cutaneous
production of vitamin D. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 61(suppl):638(s)-45(s),
1. "According to an independent study, the figure of 225% appears
to have been derived improperly from millimoles of riboflavin, not
from milligrams as it should have been." [referring to mg riboflavin
in our vegan menu].
The Dairy Bureau nutritionists went to great lengths to determine
why our figures for riboflavin were so much higher than the figures
submitted by their firm -- had they simply asked us, we would have
been more than happy to provide them with that information. The
reason our values were so different were due to the fact that our
analysis included nutritional yeast, an optional ingredient in the
egg salad sandwich. Red Star T-6635+ nutritional yeast powder provide
1.6 mg of riboflavin per teaspoon. Thus 1/2 a teaspoon, as would
be found in an eggless egg salad sandwich would provide 0.8 mg of
riboflavin (1.2 mg in 1 1/2 sandwiches consumed by the 170 pound
vegan). While nutritional yeast is an optional ingredient in this
recipe, we strongly encourage its use, and do specifically state
that it is included in this analysis on page 145 or the book.
We define the recommended intake for riboflavin (earlier in the
paragraph) as 0.5 mg per 1000 calories consumed.1 Thus the 130 pound
vegan would need about 1.1 mg of riboflavin/day and the 170 vegan
would need about 1.5 mg. At 225% of RNI's they would need 2.5 and
3.3 mg respectively. We used two programs -- Nutritionist IV and
Nutricom to arrive at the values we listed, and these figures were
checked a minimum of 3 times each.
1. Health and Welfare Canada. Nutrition Recommendations: The report
of the Scientific Review Committee. Ministry of Supply and Services
Canada. Page 106, 1990.
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