vegan meat burger
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A vegan diet may "dumb down" future kids, a nutritional expert has warned.

Writing in the health journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, Dr. Emma Derbyshire says a plant-based diet lacks choline — a key nutrient for mental development. It is mainly found in beef, eggs, dairy, fish and chicken.

According to Derbyshire, studies suggest low levels in pregnancy can harm the fetus and raise the child's risk of memory and brainpower problems.

Nutritionists also say nine in 10 adults are lacking in choline and that will worsen as more ditch meat and eggs.

"It could leave many women of childbearing age deficient in this key nutrient," Derbyshire said.

"We are at risk of dumbing down the brainpower of the next generation."

In 1998, recognizing the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively.

But Derbyshire told BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health that pregnant vegans can take supplements.