Dietitian Michaël Sels can be very brief about meat. By eating meat again, you probably won’t gain 15 kilos. “If you were eating the same thing and adding meat to it, you wouldn’t see a difference,” he says.
But someone who follows a vegan diet also does not eat animal products such as meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. Now that Ian Thomas has stopped using those restrictions, it may also be that he has started eating other products more often. Such as cheese, for example, which contains a relatively large amount of fat. Ian Thomas himself indicated that he has started drinking a beer more often and has started to snack more. He could also have done that vegan, but then he would probably still have gained weight, according to the dietitian.
“Many brands mainly use the vegan label as marketing, because there is the idea that vegan is healthier,” says Sels. “But vegan food is not necessarily healthier. There are chips that now suddenly bear the vegan label, while chips have been made from potatoes for years, so not from animal foods. These chips are not healthier, because they still contain salts and fats. But it sells because people think it’s healthier.”
If you want to eat healthy, it is better to opt for a fish burger than a vegan burger, according to Sels. Ready-made vegan burgers are not worth their name, he thinks. “It is processed food, often breaded as well, and it contains fewer nutrients than, for example, a cod.”
Yet as a vegan you can get all your necessary nutrients fully and responsibly, concludes the dietitian. You should only take a supplement for vitamin B12 as a vegan.
Kind of religion
For many people, veganism is more than just healthy eating, according to Michaël Sels. Many people eat vegan for the climate. The production of animal products such as meat and cheese releases more CO2 and nitrogen than the cultivation of vegetable products. This can play a more important role in the consideration of going vegan than health.
The chief dietitian sees that food has become a kind of religion for many people. “As with any religion, you see that there are extremes.” And those extremes are precisely a problem if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle, Sels knows. He often sees that people can cut out meat or sugar for a short period, for example, but that they often relapse afterwards and let go of their diet again. Then they turn to the food they had forbidden themselves.
How to eat healthy?
So what is healthy? Moderation, he says, is the secret to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to cut out meat or ban yourself from eating right away, but “make vegetables the star of your plate,” says the dietitian.
At the moment, an average of about 60% of the proteins on our plate is animal and 40% of the proteins are vegetable. If we were to turn this around, so 40% animal proteins and 60% vegetable proteins, we are already well on our way, according to the dietitian. “Then we all become a fitter version of ourselves.”