A vegan diet is a completely plant-based diet where the person neither eats any animal-based products nor dairy products. Animal products can range anything from meat, fish, cheese, eggs, honey, and a food ingredient obtained by boiling the skin, bones, or animals’ tendons. Is veganism the healthiest way to eat? Is it a dangerous fad? Or is there something in between them? The reality or fact we can say that a vegan diet has both benefits and drawbacks.
Relation Between A Vegan Diet And Health
More people are turning to plants for their good health. A plant-based diet could lower the risk of certain diseases. Others stay away from meat because they don’t want to harm animals or because they want to protect the environment.
If you’ve thought about trying a vegan diet, you might wonder if this way of eating is right for you. Although you can get some real benefits from going meatless, there are a few challenges, too.
Benefits Of A Vegan Diet On Health
In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) named red meat a Group 2 carcinogen, meaning it is probably carcinogenic. WHO classified processed meat like bacon and pepperoni in the Group 1 category, signifying that it causes cancer in humans. Asbestos and tobacco smoking are in this category, too. Studies show that vegans have better heart health and lower odds of having certain diseases. Better weight control may be one reason for all of these health benefits. Vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who eat animal-based products. Good nutrition is also a concern.
Effects Of A Vegan Diet On Health
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains are staples of the vegan diet. They are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and compounds that help protect against diabetes and cancer diseases. A vegan diet is healthy overall, but avoiding animal protein can shortchange you on a few nutrients, like proteins, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and vitamin B12.
You need proteins to power all the chemical reactions in your body. Calcium strengthens your bones and teeth. Omega-3 fatty acids keep your cells healthy and protect your heart against heart disease and stroke. These nutrients are the factors important for children’s growing bodies and pregnant women.
One nutrient that’s impossible to get from plant sources alone is vitamin B12, which your body uses to make red blood cells and DNA. It is impossible to get the required amount through this diet, and vegans are advised to have a supplement under guidance.
Is This Diet A Right Choice?
A vegan diet is only as healthy as you make it. Products like “vegan” ice cream, cookies, and candy are tempting, but you don’t want to overdo. If you eat high-fat and processed foods and supersize your portions, you will gain weight and might end up with many of the same health problems you’d have on a meat-based diet. Gut bacteria play a role in the body’s overall health, and a vegan diet can provide you a good amount of bacteria.
Being vegan means eliminating all animal products from your diet. It doesn’t address some of the driving forces of ill health, such as excessive sugar, an overload of simple carbs, etc. Junk food is still junk, whether it’s vegan or not. Being into veganism is not for everyone. Like sugar, animal-derived ingredients hide in unlikely places, leaving you with very limited choices compared to other eating patterns. And while it does offer profound health benefits, it’s only one option among many healthy eating styles.
Your doctor or a dietitian will help you choose the right foods as you start a vegan diet. It’s very important to get help from an expert if you have a long-term condition or are pregnant, to make sure you get the right nutrients in your new eating plan.
Essential Nutrients Found In Plant-based Foods
- Protein: nuts, soy, beans
- Calcium: soy milk, fortified orange juice, tofu with calcium, broccoli, kale, almonds
- Omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, vegetable oils, plant-based supplements
- Iron: tofu, soy nuts, spinach, peanut butter, fortified cereals
A Vegan Diet And The Environment
As per sources and various modes, a vegan diet is the biggest way to reduce the impact on Mother Earth: greenhouse gases, global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use. Animal-based food production is also linked to ocean dead zones, water pollution, deforestation, and species loss.
To achieve a healthy vegan diet, eat plenty of whole foods, and make sure you’re regularly consuming a few key nutrients.
Indeed, not everyone has a negative experience on a vegan diet. There are plenty of people who would benefit significantly from adopting certain aspects of veganism, including adding more vegetables into the diet and understanding the importance of not purchasing or consuming factory-raised meat.
Be aware of the risks of extreme diets and any quick-fix approach to health. As per the knowledge and exposure to the scientific literature and attending seminars and CME on nutrition, a balanced diet, including varying ratios of all of the macronutrients, will most often provide long-term benefits and reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies.
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