Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Dietary intakes and lifestyle factors of a vegan population in Germany: results from the German Vegan Study


Objective: Evaluation of dietary intakes and lifestyle factors of German vegans.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Settings: Germany.

Subjects: Subjects were recruited through journal advertisements. Of 868 volunteers, only 154 participated in all study segments (pre- and main questionnaire, two 9-day food frequency questionnaires, blood sampling) and fulfilled the following study criteria: vegan dietary intake at least 1 year prior to study start, minimum age of 18 y, no pregnancy or childbirth during the last 12 months.

Interventions: No interventions.

Results: All the 154 subjects had a comparatively low BMI (median 21.2 kg/m2), with an extremely low mean consumption of alcohol (0.77±3.14 g/day) and tobacco (96.8% were nonsmokers). Mean energy intake (total collective: 8.23±2.77 MJ) was higher in strict vegans than in moderate ones. Mean carbohydrate, fat, and protein intakes in proportion to energy (total collective: 57.1:29.7:11.6%) agreed with current recommendations. Recommended intakes for vitamins and minerals were attained through diet, except for calcium (median intake: 81.1% of recommendation), iodine (median: 40.6%), and cobalamin (median: 8.8%). For the male subgroup, the intake of a small amount of food of animal origin improved vitamin and mineral nutrient densities (except for zinc), whereas this was not the case for the female subgroup (except for calcium).

Conclusion: In order to reach favourable vitamin and mineral intakes, vegans should consider taking supplements containing riboflavin, cobalamin, calcium, and iodine. Intake of total energy and protein should also be improved.

Sponsorship: EDEN Foundation, Bad Soden, Germany; Stoll VITA Foundation, Waldshut-Tiengen, Germany

Your institute does not have access to this article

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1


  • Appleby PN, Thorogood M, Mann JI & Key TJA (1999): The Oxford Vegetarian Study: an overview. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 70(Suppl): S525–S531.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beardsworth A & Keil T (1991): Health-related beliefs and dietary practices among vegetarians and vegans: a qualitative study. Health Educ. J. 50, 38–42.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beardsworth A & Keil T (1992): The vegetarian option: varieties, conversions, motives and careers. Sociol. Rev. 38, 253–293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beitz R, Mensink GBM, Fischer B & Thamm M (2002): Vitamins—dietary intake and intake from dietary supplements in Germany. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 56, 539–545.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bodenbach S & Weinkauf B (1997): Die Einnahme von Vitaminpräparaten in Deutschland. Z. Ernährungswiss. 36, 57–58.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bruker MO (1987): Unsere Nahrung—unser Schicksal. Lahnstein: EMU-VerlagsGmbH, 18. Auflage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Daly JM, Heymsfield SB, Head CA, Harvey LP, Nixon DW, Katzeff H & Grossmann GD (1985): Human energy requirements: overestimation by widely used prediction equation. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 42, 1170–1174.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • DGE (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung) (2000): Referenzwerte für die Nährstoffzufuhr. Frankfurt am Main: Umschau/Braus.

  • Diamond H & Diamond M (1986): Fit fürs Leben—Fit for Life. München: Goldmann.

    Google Scholar 

  • Draper A, Lewis J, Malhorta N & Wheeler E (1993): The energy and nutrient intakes of different types of vegetarian: a case for supplements? Br. J. Nutr. 69, 3–19.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dwyer J (1999): Convergence of plant-rich and plant-only diets. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 70(Suppl), 620S–622S.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation(1985): Energy and Protein Requirements. Technical Report Series No. 724. Geneva: World Health Organization.

  • Fischer B & Döring A (1999): Häufigkeit der Einnahme von Vitamin- und Mineralstoffpräparaten. Vergleich nationaler und internationaler Studien. Ernähr.-Umsch. 46, 44–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Frentzel-Beyme R & Chang-Claude J (1994): Vegetarian diets and colon cancer: the German experience. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59(Suppl), 1143S–1152S.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Garrel DR, Jobin N & de Jonge LH (1996): Should we still use the Harris and Benedict equations? Nutr. Clin. Pract. 11, 99–103.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goldberg GR, Black AE, Jebb SA, Cole TJ, Murgatroyd PR, Coward WA, Prentice AM (1991): Critical evaluation of energyintake data using fundamental principles of energy physiology: l. Derivation of cut-off limits to identify under-recording. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 45, 569–581.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Havala S & Dwyer J (1993): Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. JAMA 93, 1317–1319.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Heseker H, Adolf T, Eberhardt W, Hartmann S, Herwig A, Kübler W, Matiaske B, Moch KJ, Nitsche A, Schneider R, Zipp A (1994): Lebensmittel- und Nährstoffaufnahme Erwachsener in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. VERA-Schriftenreihe, Hrsg. Kübler W, Anders HJ, Heeschen W, Kohlmeier M, Band III. Niederkleen: Dr. Fleck Wissenschaftlicher Fachverlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoffmann I, Kohl M, Groeneveld M & Leitzmann C (1994): Development and validation of a new instrument to measure food intake. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 59(Suppl), 284S.

    Google Scholar 

  • Griffith PR & Innes FC (1983): The relationship of socio-economic factors to the use of vitamin supplements in the city of Windsor. Nutr. Res. 3, 445–455.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Janelle KC & Barr SI (1995): Nutrient intakes and eating behaviour scores of vegetarian and nonvegetarian women. JAMA 95, 180–189.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kirk SFL, Cade JE, Barrett JH & Conner M (1999): Diet and lifestyle characteristics associated with dietary supplement use in women. Public Health Nutr. 2, 69–73.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • McGowan MJ, Harrington KE, Kiely M, Robson PJ, Livingstone MB & Gibney MJ (2001): An evaluation of energy intakes and the ratio of energy intake to estimated basal metabolic rate (EI/BMRest) in the North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey. Public Health Nutr. 4, 1043–1050.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • McKenzie JC (1967): Social and economic implications of minority food habits. Proc. Nutr. Soc. 26, 197–205.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lightowler HJ & Davies GJ (2000): Micronutrient intakes in a group of UK vegans and the contribution of self-selected dietary supplements. J. Roy. Soc. Promotion Health 120, 117–124.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rana SK & Sanders TAB (1986): Taurine concentrations in the diet, plasma, urine and breast milk of vegans compared with omnivores. Br. J. Nutr. 56, 17–27.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Roshanai F & Sanders TAB (1984): Assessment of fatty acid intakes in vegans and omnivores. Hum. Nutr.: Appl. Nutr. 38A, 345–354.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Ross H (1991): Zum Motivationsprofil der Vegetarier in drei europäischen Sprachräumen. Inaugural Dissertation, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rottka H (1990): Health and vegetarian life style. Bibl. Nutr. Dieta. 45, 176–194.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sanders TAB & Key TJA (1987): Blood pressure, plasma renin activity and aldosterone concentrations in vegans and omnivore controls. Hum. Nutr.: Appl. Nutr. 41A, 204–211.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schneider R, Eberhardt W, Heseker H, Moch KJ (1992): Die VERA-Stichprobe im Vergleich mit Volkszählung, Mikrozensus und anderen nationalen Untersuchungen. VERA-Schriftenreihe, Hrsg.: Kübler W, Anders HJ, Heeschen W, Kohlmeier M, Band II. Niederkleen: Dr. Fleck Wissenschaftlicher Fachverlag.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schutz HG, Read M, Bendel R, Bhalla VS, Harrill I, Monagle E, Sheehan ET & Standal BR (1982): Food supplement usage in seven Western states. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 36, 897–901.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Strassner C (1998): Ernähren sich Rohköstler gesünder? Die Gießener Rohkost-Studie. Heidelberg: Verlag für Medizin und Gesundheit.

  • The British Dietetic Association (1999): Position Paper approved by the Council of the British Dietetic Association on 13 January 1999: Vitamin and mineral supplementation. J. Hum. Nutr. Diet. 12, 171–178.

  • Thorogood M, Roe L, McPherson K & Mann J (1990): Dietary intake and plasma lipid levels: lessons from a study of the diet of health conscious groups. Br. Med. J. 300, 1297–1301.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson AK & Ball MJ (1999): Nutrient intake and iron status of Australian male vegetarians. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr. 53, 189–194.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wolters M & Hahn A (2000): Nahrungsergänzungsmittel – Eine Bestandsaufnahme. I. Einordnung, Marktsituation und Verbraucherverhalten. ERNO 1, 167–175.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to A Hahn.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Waldmann, A., Koschizke, J., Leitzmann, C. et al. Dietary intakes and lifestyle factors of a vegan population in Germany: results from the German Vegan Study. Eur J Clin Nutr 57, 947–955 (2003).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • vegan
  • lifestyle factors
  • energy intake
  • vitamin intake; mineral intake
  • dietary intake

Further reading


Quick links