B12 a Good Role Model
When sharing the health benefits of a plant-based diet, it is important to lead by example. Don’t be a cheese-and-french-fries vegetarian—instead, load up on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Also, be sure to plan for complete nutrition. It’s easy and important.
The main nutrient vegans should plan for is vitamin B12. It is essential for healthy nerves and healthy blood. It is made by neither animals nor plants; it is made by bacteria. Presumably, before the advent of modern hygiene, the bacteria in the soil and on plants provided traces of B12. However, those sources are certainly not reliable nowadays. Deficiencies are rare, but they manifest as nerve symptoms that may be irreversible. So be sure to get your B12 from a daily multiple vitamin, a B12 supplement, or fortified foods (e.g., fortified cereals, soymilk, etc.)
Overall, vegan diets provide better nutrition than any other kind of diet—with plenty of protein, calcium, and iron, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals—without the problems posed by animal fat and cholesterol. But it’s essential to include a source of vitamin B12. And it couldn’t be easier to do.