A plant-based diet is beneficial to both the population’s health and the environment, but it differs from the ordinary Finnish diet, which is mainly reliant on animal products and so has a lower intake of certain vitamins and minerals.
Studies conducted to better understand vegetarian and mixed diets have revealed that the amount of folate in people who follow a vegan diet, as well as to a lesser extent those who follow a more plant-based diet, is higher than in those who do not, and that the amount of iodine and B12 in these individuals is lower.
Furthermore, individual studies have revealed that those who follow a plant-based diet have lower iron storage in their bodies, even when they ingest a high quantity of iron in their meals. Because of the inferior absorption of iron acquired from plants, this is most likely at least in part explained.
Finland’s population must migrate to a more sustainable, plant-based diet in the meanwhile, for reasons relating to climate change and in light of recent findings Consumption of animal-derived foods, particularly processed meat and red meat, must be curtailed as a result of this. Additionally, this shift in food is associated with health advantages, such as changes in the quality of fat in the diet and, as a result, an improvement in the lipid profile of individuals.
Nutritionally, the shift to a plant-based diet may be accomplished in a reasonable and safe manner; however, the modifications necessary for nutrient intake will be more if the new diet is more plant-based in composition.
It took 136 healthy adult volunteers 12 weeks to complete a research conducted by the University of Helsinki in the spring of 2017. They were assigned to one of three study diets. One of the experimental diets was mainly focused on animal protein, similar to the diets of typical Finns, and the results were encouraging. In contrast, the other two diets had varied amounts of animal protein, including red meat, dairy products, and poultry, which were substituted by a variety of plant proteins, such as legumes and nuts, in order to provide a more balanced diet.