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The Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels has provoked the ire of some vegans online – by saying women need to eat meat or eggs to get enough iron.
The fitness specialist made the comments on a recent Instagram video she made about nutrition.
She opened the video by asking her vegetarian and vegan friends to ‘not get mad’ at her – then said they had been ‘mad for years’.
“I’m an animal lover, and I also acknowledge that being vegan is one of the best things we can do for the environment, but I cannot tell you that any of the research I have ever done with endocrinologists, even dermatologists or registered dietitians, would suggest that being completely vegan is healthy,” Michaels said in the video.
“And the reason for that, in particular as women – this is going to be a diet that’s better for guys than it is for females – is every month, and I don’t need to be particularly gross, you guys are all adults here, women lose iron, guys don’t.
“So, in fact, guys can get too much iron accumulating in their body over a lifetime…whereas we lose iron, so it’s very easy for us on a vegan diet to become anemic.”
Michaels added that while vegans can get a vitamin B12 shot, those who refuse to eat any meat at all ‘have to go the extra mile’ to decide whether they will be vegan or vegetarian.
She says that when she was vegetarian, she had ‘happy chickens’, and suggests that people who won’t eat meat consider a few eggs from ‘super happy chickens who are living the life’.
‘This is all so untrue’
The post elicited mixed comments, including one which said people are confused about nutrition because they ‘run into conflicting information everywhere they look’.
“No offense, but all you’re doing is confusing people,” the commenter added. “This is all so untrue. I’d be near death after six years the way you’re describing veganism. No, you don’t need eggs. No one NEEDS eggs. No one NEEDS meat. And so many people are deficient in vitamins and minerals on the standard American diet that includes meat and eggs.
“I was severely deficient in vitamin D, for example. I fixed all of my health issues by changing what I eat. And being vegan is an ethical and moral choice people make to not be part of animal suffering and slaughter. If you’re talking about being in a plant-based diet, maybe interview one of the many plant-based doctors out there to give sound advice on the subject. Just saying.”
Appropriate for all stages of life
Despite Michaels’ views, major nutritional bodies, including the British and American Dietetic Associations, say that plant-based diets can be suitable for all stages of life.
“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases,”
the American Dietetic Association says.
“Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”