A new survey  commissioned by the Health and Food Supplements Information Service HSIS has highlighted worrying gaps in knowledge leading to an enhanced risk of nutritional deficiencies. The OnePoll survey interviewed vegetarian and vegan adults across the UK and found that 28 per cent of vegans and 13 per cent of vegetarians have been diagnosed with a nutrient deficiency following a blood test. The key nutrients which could be an issue on vegetarian or vegan diets were iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium and zinc. These are all found in animal-sourced foods but tend to be less bioavailable or present in smaller amounts, in plant foods. Yet, despite this, more than six in 10 people claimed that their plant-based diet provided all of the nutrients they need. The examples of deficiency were accompanied by poor general knowledge about how to obtain adequate nutrient intakes when following a vegan or vegetarian diet. While one in ten respondents had turned to a meat-free diet in the past year and half had been vegan or vegetarian for longer, 60 per cent overall admitted that they had done no research before cutting out animal products and most did not take a targeted dietary supplement, as recommended by the NHS  and the Vegan Society .
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