How healthy is vegan? The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment at the Long Night of the Sciences

Why do people follow a vegan diet? How does a plant-based diet affect our health? What knowledge gaps still exist? A panel of experts from the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) will answer these and other questions on the 2 nd of July 2022 on the Lab stage at the Futurium on the Long Night of the Sciences under the heading "Vegan is (un)healthy! A fact check". The BfR team includes: Professor Dr Cornelia Weikert, Head of the Human Study Centre and the Unit for Risks of Subpopulations and Human Studies, Dr Iris Trefflich, Scientific Officer at the Human Study Centre, and Dr Mark Lohmann, Head of the Unit for Sociology of Risk and Risk Benefit Appraisal. "Plant-based diets are  hotly debated: on the one hand, they are considered healthy, on the other hand, it is feared that they can lead to nutrient deficiencies," says BfR Vice President Professor Dr Tanja Schwerdtle. "But what is the scientific point of view? That’s what we want to talk about at the Long Night of the Sciences." The public is invited to vote live via mobile phone. There will also be the latest information on participation in the COPLANT study, the largest planned study on plant-based nutrition in German-speaking countries.

When? 2 nd July 2022 | 9:15-10:00 pm

Where? Lab stage | Futurium Berlin

What? Presentation: Vegan is (un)healthy! A fact check

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Science as an answer to disinformation, conspiracy theories, and misconceptions - that is the central theme of this year's Long Night of the Sciences. The BfR experts on the Lab stage at the Futurium will point out preconceptions and research gaps regarding the topic of vegan nutrition.

At the BfR, Professor Dr Cornelia Weikert and Dr Iris Trefflich carry out research on health risks for particular population groups and are specialized in veganism studies: "A current study by the BfR already provides preliminary indications regarding the nutrients with which vegans are mostly well supplied and for which nutrients there is a need for more information. To answer these questions about health advantages and disadvantages of plant-based nutrition, more extensive studies are needed." For this reason, the BfR is planning the COPLANT study together with the Max Rubner Institute, the Research Institute for Plant Nutrition in Giessen and the Universities of Jena, Bonn, Heidelberg, Regensburg, and Kiel.

COPLANT is an abbreviation of COhort study on PLANT-based diets.  With around 6,000 participants, it will be the largest cohort study on this topic in the German-speaking world to date. The aim: to shed light on how plant-based diets and health are connected.

Dr Mark Lohmann addresses questions of benefit and risk perception at the BfR. Together with his team, he uses social-scientific methods to determine the population's attitude towards vegan nutrition: "People who want to live vegan often have a basic ethical motivation. It is, therefore, first and foremost about animal welfare, followed by health and ecological motives."

During the Long Night of the Sciences, there will be numerous experiments, tours and talks on many topics at more than 60 scientific and science-orientated institutions in Berlin and Potsdam. The programme can be attended in person, but some of the events can also be followed online. You will find an overview of all the institutions here:

More information on the Long Night of the Sciences:

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the German government and the States ("Laender") on questions of food, chemicals and product safety. The BfR conducts independent research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks. In 2022, the BfR is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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