Pregnant women, nursing mothers, children and teens must stay away from vegan diet, at least according to Belgian researchers.

Veganism has emerged as a popular diet plan for those seeking to eat healthy and shed weight. However, a group of researchers from the Royal Academy of Medicine in Belgium strictly discourage people from following this diet plan. They have specially warned the parents of young children and teenagers about this type of “restrictive” eating plans.

The medical opinion indicates that this type of diet plan may lead to a stunted development and deficiencies, if the person is not monitored properly. According to the report, the diet plan could also create “unavoidable nutritional shortcoming”.

The study indicates that vegan diet could cause “irreversible” harm to pregnant women and children. It is mainly because the diet plan lacks necessary calcium, vitamins and other essential nutrients as well as trace elements needed for the proper development of a human body.

People following a vegan diet avoid dairy products, meat, eggs and other non- vegan ingredients from their daily meals. According to the medical opinion, around three percentage of children in Belgium are following this type of a diet plan.

The medical opinion was released on request from a representative of a national human rights organization, who was seeking guidelines for the health care providers, including pediatricians.

Dr. Georges Casimir, head of the commission and a pediatrician at Queen Fabiola Children's Hospital, said in a statement that a vegan diet can cause deficiency in essential fatty acids and proteins for the developing brain.

Isabelle Thiebaut, co-author and the president of an European organization for dietitians said parents of the children, who are following vegan diet, must be made aware of the diet's side-effects such as anemia, weight-loss, undernutrition, psychomotor delays and other possible nutrition problems faced by this type of eating plan.

The dietitian also asked the parents to take their children for regular medical checkups and blood tests as well as to give them supplements.

However, an US-based organization for nutrition professionals called Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and British Diabetic Association (BDA) does not agree with the medical opinion released by Belgium’s Royal Academy of Medicine.

In a research paper, titled “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets”, the Academy of Nutrition and Diabetics stated that the nutrition deficiencies caused by a vegetarian diet “can be readily avoided by appropriate planning”.

“Appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes,” added the organization.

In a similar vein, the BDA said that “ a well-planned, plant-based, vegan-friendly diet that supports healthy living in people of all ages ”.