Animal diet and Veganism – The ALEPH initiative

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definition: the practice of eating only food not derived from animals and typically of avoiding the use of other animal products.

About 600,000 in UK are vegetarian or vegan now. But only 20% remain so after one year of vegan practice.


The ALEPH-2020 initiative

This initiative (Animal source foods and Livestock: Ethics, Planet, and Health) was launched at the end of 2020 by an international and interdisciplinary consortium of >30 scientific experts. The acronym refers to the first letter of the Proto-Canaanite alphabet ‘Aleph’, which later also morphed into the Greek ‘Alpha’ and Latin ‘A’. Originally, the letter was derived from the West Semitic word for ‘ox’ depicted in a Proto-Sinaitic glyph, on its turn likely obtained from an Egyptian hieroglyph showing a bovine head (see picture).

As such, it not only represented a vocal sound and scriptural element, but also notions of strength, vitality, fertility, and generosity. Throughout human pre-history and history, animals (either hunted or domesticated) and animal source foods (ASFs) have always held these connotations, as they were essential for survival and sustenance.

Dairy products and Vegans

Dairy products are an excellent source of proteins and lipids.

I am going to focus on lipids, today. Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) remain a major cause of death and morbidity globally and diet plays a crucial role in the disease prevention and pathology. The negative perception of dairy fats stems from the effort to reduce dietary saturated fatty acid (SFA) intake due to their association with increased cholesterol levels upon consumption and the increased risk of CVD development. Institutions that set dietary guidelines have approached dairy products with negative bias and used poor scientific data in the past.

As a result, the consumption of dairy products was considered detrimental to our cardiovascular health. In western societies, dietary trends indicate that generally there is a reduction of full-fat dairy product consumption and increased low-fat dairy consumption. However, recent research and meta-analyses have demonstrated the benefits of full-fat dairy consumption, based on higher bioavailability of high-value nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties. In this review, the relationship between dairy consumption, cardiometabolic risk factors and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases are discussed. Functional dairy foods and the health implications of dairy alternatives are also considered. In general, evidence suggests that milk has a neutral effect on cardiovascular outcomes but fermented dairy products, such as yoghurt, kefir and cheese may have a positive effect.



Animal source foods (ASFs) are evolutionary foods and provide key nutrients. There is no reason to eliminate their consumption from a health perspective, well on the contrary. People who nonetheless decide to do so on ethical or environmental grounds should keep in mind that the robustness of restrictive diets depends on knowledge, resources, and careful supplementation. Although it needs to be acknowledged that current omnivore diets are often not well-formulated either, taking out some of the most nutrient-rich and species-adapted foods is an additional barrier to achieving adequate essential nutrition in an already problematic foodscape. Moreover, restricting or eliminating ASFs may not be suitable for everyone, potentially causing damage in the more vulnerable parts of the population, in particular the young, elderly, and metabolically challenged.
You can read more about the ALEPH initiative here.