Tips from the nutrition coach: Are vegetarian and vegan really healthier?

Even if it often seems easy to eat healthily these days

Eating consciously and taking care of your own body remains a real challenge for many people. Or, as Anja Dehl puts it: “In Germany there is still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to nutrition.

I don’t see my job as setting goals for other people and making them eating rules,” says Anja Dehl in an interview with the RHÖN health blog: “The greatest success is when you figure out how you can live healthier – and implement it with joy and on our own.”

In the interview, the expert explains why she recommends conscious cooking and leisurely eating, why she doesn’t like smoothies and why she regularly goes shopping with her patients.

Ms. Dehl, what is the main problem with regard to all of our diets?

Many people take far too little time to eat. Also because of the ubiquitous and often misleading advertising for various foods and beverages, they are often disoriented when it comes to a truly healthy diet. The rest of the muddled situation controls “Dr. Google” at: Countless false information about a healthy lifestyle is circulating on the net. So many people are completely “lost in space”.

That’s a shame, because actually it’s not really that difficult to take care of yourself and your body a little bit.

Who mainly uses your help as a nutrition coach?

Many people come with diabetes, as well as children and young people who want to lose weight, suffer from eating disorders or have chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. I also see people who have had or have had a stomach reduction surgery. I should support and accompany you in losing weight.

“Healthy” is often equated with “vegetarian” or “vegan”. Right?

Many studies suggest that a consistent vegetarian or even vegan diet has a positive effect on metabolism. So it helps against overweight and obesity , or also dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure . It has also been proven that the BMI , i.e. the index for body mass, tends to be lower in all those people who eat a vegetarian diet. It should also be mentioned at this point that the consumption of red meat is associated with an increased risk of cancer. That’s why I like to describe it as “health-preserving” if you eat vegetarian food.

What does that mean specifically for the menu?

A vegetarian diet usually means more vegetables, grain products, fruit, nuts and legumes. In most cases, this means that this type of diet almost automatically means that you eat less bad, i.e. saturated, pro-inflammatory fatty acids, and also less sugar.

In addition, the proportion of roughage, vitamins and minerals, but also of so-called secondary plant substances is then significantly higher. In addition, the vegetarian diet has a positive influence on the immune system – and is overall much healthier than a diet that relies on a lot of meat and meat products. To be fair, however, one has to admit that there are also studies that indicate that eating meat in moderation,

So “a little bit of everything” remains the silver bullet

One hears again and again that deficiency symptoms can occur with a purely vegan diet…

Vegans lack vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, iron, iodine, calcium and essential amino acids. Of course, the aim must then be to cover these and other important substances through healthy food or to take them with the help of dietary supplements. But that is absolutely no problem – and does not in itself speak against a vegan diet.

Let’s start very simply: What is the first step towards a healthier diet?

First of all, away from the red meat! This includes beef, pork or lamb. Simply because it is known to promote inflammation in the body. Instead, I recommend poultry meat. If you then pay attention to ecological labels when shopping, you can even do something for the animals and the environment. There are now vegan alternatives to conventional meat products.

They are mainly known for their vegan burgers made from soy or pea protein. In the meantime, the products have also arrived at a high level in terms of taste, I think. I would really recommend everyone to try such a burger once. Or a soy schnitzel. With such products you can make your own diet much healthier relatively quickly. And without much sacrifice.

And otherwise?

People who want or need to change their eating habits should first check how much fruit and vegetables they eat. It often happens that a lot of sweet fruit is eaten but very few vegetables.

How much is advisable?

Basically, I would recommend three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit a day, preferably regional and seasonal. This first step is the best way to add some variety to your own menu. Next comes the question of how “open” the person is to legumes, such as lentils, peas, or beans. They are not only usually very inexpensive, but also very versatile in terms of taste. In this respect, I like to say that the vegetarian diet is first and foremost an extension of one’s own diet. And no restrictions. In addition, it provides a special kind of quality of life, because the body simply feels better with a nuloc diet.

Soy schnitzel, fruit and vegetables are now on the menu. What else should be on it?

In the next step

I ask my patients what kind of bread they like best. I can primarily recommend whole grain bread, simply because of the high mineral content. For those who rely on dairy products, I recommend kefir, which is excellent for the intestinal flora. If you like yoghurt but want or should reduce your milk consumption, I would recommend plant-based yoghurts. They are very tasty and have a healthier composition than milk-based yoghurts. For example, they contain more protein.

What do you think of the smoothie trend, i.e. drinks into which almost anything is stirred?

I’m not a big fan of that, simply because the ingredients in drinks are rarely or not at all chewed. And if you don’t chew, you won’t sit down on a chair and eat. But drinks on the side, while surfing the net or while watching TV.

So: Just sit down and enjoy?

Exactly. My advice is to really consciously sit down to eat, chew consciously, and just enjoy the food for once. It is far more than food intake! So just let the mango, apple and peppers melt in your mouth, in the truest sense of the word! In my opinion, this enjoyment has become increasingly rare in our fast-moving society. And that’s just unhealthy. Quite apart from this aspect, fruit-heavy smoothies are often extremely high in calories from sugar. That’s why it’s better to chew two portions of fresh fruit in peace! Or enjoy it mixed with nuts and oatmeal. In this case, the satiety effect is also much longer lasting than with smoothies.

And how do you reach passionate meat eaters?

For people who eat meat every day, a first step is to get them down to four times a week. Instead, fish or something vegetarian more often. And over time you can reduce your meat consumption even further. For many people, this automatically means an expansion of the menu – and in general to come up with new ideas about what you can eat.

What you end up eating is decided when you go shopping…


That’s why I meet many patients directly in their favorite supermarket. And then we go shopping together. This is very popular with everyone. I give orientation in the choice of food, the composition – always taking the price into account.

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