Table of Contents
- Benefits of a Vegan Diet
- Disadvantages of a Vegan Diet
- Final Verdict: Yay or Nay?
Have you noticed recently everyone seems to be on a diet? Keto diet, Paleo, Atkins, low-carb diets. With so many of them, it is hard to keep up!
One such diet, which requires a radical change in your lifestyle, is the vegan diet. According to people who have tried it, it keeps your stomach full and your soul satisfied. It also cleanses you from all the nastiness of animal products. Is this the case, though?
Today, we are going to answer the question: Is a vegan diet the right one for you and how does it affect your health?
What is Veganism, to Be Exact?
According to dietitian Alina Petre on healthline.com, veganism, or the vegan diet, excludes all animal products. This means having a diet that does not include dairy or meat products. Some people choose to go vegan to lose weight. Others, to prevent environmental issues or prevent animal cruelty.
It is important to note that vegan and vegetarian diets are not the same. The vegetarian diet allows you to consume dairy products such as milk, butter, yogurt, but no meat. While vegans say eating dairy products is not an option.
Vegan Fun Facts
Before we get into the serious questions and answers about veganism, let’s entertain ourselves a bit. Here are some fun facts about the vegan diet. You have probably never heard of some:
- When not eating meat, you are actually decreasing the level of pollution. How come? Well, 20% of human-made pollution comes from the meat industry.
- Oreos are vegan – they don’t contain real dairy and are made with unsweetened chocolate.
- Why does vegan food, in most cases, have fewer calories? Because it doesn’t contain unhealthy fats.
- About 7.5 million people in America and over half a million people in the UK are vegan.
- World Vegan Day is celebrated on the 1st of November.
- Vegans that don’t take supplements are prone to anemia and usually suffer from a lack of B12 vitamin.
- Bill Clinton is vegan, Hillary is not.
- A research published on PubMed.gov showed that men who were on a non-meat diet had more pleasant and not-so-intense body odors. Who knew you could be more attractive to your partner if you don’t eat meat?
- Vegetarianism comes from ancient India and today, 70% of vegans are Indians.
- According to BBC News, back in Ancient Rome, gladiators were mostly vegetarians. Their diet consisted of a little meat from time to time but was mostly plant-based.
Being Vegan = Being Healthy?
For the most part – yes. However, many types of vegan diets can affect your overall health. Here are four of the most popular vegan diets:
- Raw-food vegan diet – eating fresh vegetables, fruits, seeds, and plant foods cooked under 118℉
- Low-carb and a high-fat diet
- Low-fat and high-carb vegan diet – eating potatoes, rice and other carb enriched vegetables, and fewer fruits and nuts
- Junk-food vegan diet – eating processed vegan foods that are meant to substitute for meat, cheese and other dairy products.
As you can see, for the most part, a vegan diet is healthy. However, there is a so-called vegan junk-food diet. There are also vegan desserts that have more calories than non-vegan ones.
To stay on the right track, we suggest you first get to know the vegan diet, its benefits and flaws, before deciding whether this is something you would want to try.
So, let’s start this vegan journey!
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
If taken seriously, veganism can change your life for the better. There are at least 50 perks to being vegan, but we will look at just the most important ones.
Perk No. 1: Losing Weight
Let’s admit – spring break is almost here and we need to get into those swimsuits. So how can a vegan diet help?
According to a 2005 study, a low-fat vegan diet is associated with weight loss, even in overweight postmenopausal women. This study showed that women managed to lose weight even when they weren’t careful with their energy intake (calories).
The thing to remember is this – as we get older, we have more difficulties losing weight. Plus, women who are postmenopausal or just going through menopause tend to quickly gain weight due to lower estrogen levels, which slows down metabolism. If, according to this study, these postmenopausal women managed to lose weight, then anyone can!
Perk No. 2: Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
According to a 2006 study, a low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic and lipid control in type 2 diabetic patients.
Remember, type 2 diabetes is a result of your body not handling its glucose levels properly.
The hormone, insulin, is produced by the pancreas and is in charge of you having a healthy glucose level. When the glucose cannot get into the cells, the body keeps trying by producing more insulin. However, it eventually gives up – the pancreas can’t do it anymore. When the cells can’t use the insulin the body makes, doctors call this insulin resistance. The fact that vegan diets can control glycemic levels in the body is pretty impressive!
Perk No. 3: Vegan/Vegetarian Diet Keeps Your Heart Healthy and Protected
Not only does a vegan diet lower your blood pressure, but it can also protect your heart by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol. And we sure have a study to back up these statements.
According to an article in The Permanente Journal, vegetarians have a 24% reduction in ischemic heart disease than non-vegetarians. This is related to lower cholesterol levels caused by a non-meat diet. Furthermore, the ones who have been following the Mediterranean diet, which included mostly fresh vegetables, fruits and fish, had a 73% decrease in coronary events. If a vegetarian diet can do this, who knows what a vegan diet can do?
Perk No. 4: You Feel More Energized
You have probably heard that persons on a vegan diet have a lot more energy. It might sound crazy since, in a vegan diet, your body wouldn’t get the energy from meat and other proteins that can make you feel that way. Nevertheless, there is a scientific explanation behind this.
Have you ever noticed that after eating meatloaf or having 2-3 cups of milk, you feel less energized? This is not a coincidence. Put, meat is not easily digestible. It takes more time to digest in your digestive system naturally. Plus, your body needs a lot more energy to make it happen.
Perk No. 5: Glowy Skin
That is if you don’t decide to eat vegan junk food. Plant-based meals are usually enriched with Vitamins A, C and E, that are full of antioxidants. This can clear your skin and make it glow. Furthermore, Vitamin C boosts the production of collagen, which gives an anti-aging effect.
Perk No. 6: Better Sleep
The most important thing is to get to bed on time and give your body a much-needed rest. A vegan diet can help you with that.
Foods like bananas, spinach, broccoli, kale and almonds contain Vitamin B6 and high levels of magnesium, which causes muscle relaxation and puts you to sleep faster.
Perk No. 7: Vegan Diet Prevents Cancer
Probably the most shocking of all these perks is number 7, but it is the truth. Especially when it comes to prostate or colorectal cancer. This doesn’t mean that consuming dairy products and meat will guarantee you to get cancer, but it can affect the process, especially if you already have a genetic predisposition.
Disadvantages of a Vegan Diet
Having covered the advantages of going vegan, let’s now look at a couple of disadvantages that make the vegan diet questionable.
Drawback No. 1: Absence of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is beneficial for many things, one of them being that it protects red blood cells. Therefore, if there is not enough Vitamin B12 in your diet, pernicious anemia (a disease which makes it challenging to absorb Vitamin B12), can occur.
Ordinarily, B12 is found in eggs, milk and meat, but can also be found in beans, some cereals and green vegetables. Please note that adults should take 2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 per day.
Drawback No. 2: The Lack of Iron and Zinc
According to WebMD, iron is an important nutrient that transports the oxygen from the lungs to all blood cells. If you are not getting enough oxygen in the cells, you will experience fatigue and being tired all the time. Furthermore, iron keeps your skin, hair, and nails healthy and firm.
WebMD also advises that if you decide to go vegan, ensure you take iron supplements since iron from plants has a slower absorbing time than iron in meat products.
On the other hand, zinc keeps your body feeling strong and healthy while allowing you to maintain proper hormone levels. Zinc also has a major effect on protein synthesis, which means it plays a decent role in producing red and white blood cells. Let’s say that low levels of zinc is not recommended.
Also, if you experience hair loss, or your wounds take a longer time to heal, a lack of zinc might be the reason. Our advice is to take a zinc supplement. However, if you are not into taking too many supplements, then be sure to eat a lot of legumes, mushrooms and include soy products, as well.
Drawback No. 3: The Lack of Vitamin D
This comes with a silver lining, because of all the nutrients that a vegan diet doesn’t provide, this one is the easiest to replace. Just spend more time in the sun to boost your Vitamin D levels.
If you are thinking about getting vitamins by simply walking in the sunshine is not important, you couldn’t be more wrong. Vitamin D is more beneficial to your body than you think. It can, among other things:
Reduce the risks of cancer and diabetes
- Strengthen bones
- Improve lung function
- Prevent bone fractures
- Improve your mood
Please note, when it comes to foods, Vitamin D is mostly found in milk, butter, salmon and tuna. You should also keep track of how much time you spend in the sun. Be aware of sunburn.
Drawback No. 4: Lack of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for multiple things. Some of these advantages are:
- Eye health
- Brain health
- Lower risk of heart disease
- Being able to reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome
These fatty acids are usually found in salmon, herring, oysters and other fishes that vegans don’t consume. If you want to make sure your brain stays alert, reach for the fish oil supplements or be sure to eat as many walnuts as possible.
Drawback No. 5: The Lack of Calories
Most likely, the first thing that pops into your mind when someone mentions “trying to lose weight” or “having a healthy diet” is calorie restrictions. This is why most people decide to go vegan when they are trying to lose weight. However, you always have to be careful while counting calories.
To make something clear, the daily calorie intake is not a one-size-fits-all. On the contrary, it is measured by taking into account your age, height, weight, and overall health condition..
But, the one thing you cannot do is go below the minimum daily calorie intake which is 1,200 calories for women and 1,800 calories for men. Remember – being overweight can cause health issues, but so can being underweight.
Also, if you are too busy to keep an eye on your weight, be sure to check out our tips on how to lose weight when you simply don’t have time to exercise. Sometimes, a busy schedule can get the best of us.
These are the main drawbacks of going on a vegan diet. As you can see, all of them are related to the lack of nutritional supplements. Nevertheless, these issues occur only when there is no nutritional balance. So, what does it mean to have a well-balanced vegan diet?
A Balanced Vegan Diet
Simply put, having a balanced vegan diet means eating the same amount of nutrients per day that you would normally consume when eating animal products. If you are interested to see what food products you should eat daily, be sure to check The Vegan Society’s post.
Also, if you are interested to see which vegan meals are healthy yet tasty at the same time, leave us a comment below.
Final Verdict: Yay or Nay?
It wasn’t the easiest decision but we are going to say, Yay. Nevertheless, after looking at all the pros and cons of the vegan diet, we believe you should only follow it if you are trying to be healthy.
Going vegan because you need to lose weight can be a waste of time since diets are tough to control and you might end up with the yo-yo effect (losing weight and gaining it all again).
If you want to ensure staying healthy and vegan, we have some final tips for you:
- Eat a lot of vegetables and make them the star of the show for every meal. Be sure to add a lot of spices because they can enhance the flavor of every meal.
- Eat a lot of grains – legumes and beans.
- Don’t think that all vegan products are healthy. Choose wisely.
- Don’t forget to spend time in the sun, and take your iron and zinc supplements.
- Eat a lot of green vegetables (like broccoli, spinach and cabbage) because they have high levels of calcium, which is suitable for bone structure.
- Go nuts with different types of nuts! Try to consume them daily.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. We hope you found it helpful.
What are your thoughts on the vegan diet? Have you ever tried it? Tell us in the comments!
Image credits: pixabay.com
Last article update: 8/27/2019