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Although overnutrition seems to get a lot of airtime, undernutrition is also a major public health issue affecting millions of people in the UK. There are a variety of reasons why someone might struggle to obtain enough nutrition. For example, a reduced appetite might have a major impact on someone’s dietary intake and higher nutritional requirements are recommended for people with certain health conditions.
Hospital and community health professionals can help vegans and other service users to establish their risk of undernutrition by taking them through a screening process like the Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool, which may result in referral to a dietitian for expert advice.
Generally, the first line approach to managing undernutrition is to encourage someone to make the most of their food. Here are some basic vegan-friendly tips:
In some situations, it’s appropriate to trial a medical nutrition product, which can be prescribed or recommended by certain health professionals, including dietitians, when a person meets the relevant prescribing indications.
Vegans can be effective advocates for their cause by looking after their health, bearing in mind that the definition of veganism recognises that we can only do what is possible and practicable when avoiding animal products. However, vegans also need professionals and organisations to address systemic barriers.
Whilst going through the experience of managing undernutrition, vegans must overcome the added challenges of nutrition support systems geared towards people who consume animal products. Although several nutritionally balanced vegan shakes have been launched in the commercial sector, this kind of development has not been reflected in the medical nutrition category until now.
In a unique collaboration, our Trademark Team has worked with medical nutrition company AYMES to reformulate their ActaSolve Smoothie product so that it can be used to add nutrition to a vegan diet. This powder-style supplement is the first of its kind – a balanced medical nutrition product carrying the Vegan Trademark.
We hope that health services up and down the country will make balanced vegan medical nutrition available on prescribing guidelines, enabling them to offer better treatment to vulnerable vegans experiencing undernutrition when indicated. We also anticipate further steps forward as innovations in the commercial sector transfer over to the medical nutrition category.