Switching to a vegan diet from a typical Western diet can be a huge step for many of us, especially given the number of dietary changes that it entails. Some may decide to do this for ecological reasons, while others for the purpose of leading a healthier life. Can it really make you healthier, though?
The drive to become vegan, besides animal welfare and the environment, could stem from seeking personal health benefits. These days, going vegan has become easier as more people have better access to vegan food sources.
A large meta-analysis of 96 studies on being vegan published by Italian authors showed that indeed, going vegan may lead to a healthier life and a significant reduced risk of cancer. Several studies have shown that veganism may result in a higher intake of beneficial phytochemical compounds, such as polyphenols.
According to the American Dietetic Association, a properly planned vegan diet that doesn’t lead to nutrient deficiencies may provide benefits in the reduction of disease risk.
And based on more recent research, there is a higher probability of increasing life expectancy from consuming plant foods such as fruits and vegetables. However, there is still ongoing research investigating the effects of other dietary approaches and how they compare to veganism in different populations.
What Kind Of Vegan Are You?
Becoming vegan, in the strictest sense of the word, means that you will not eat any of the following foods:
• Red meat
• Poultry meat (e.g. chicken and turkey)
• Dairy (e.g. milk, cheese, and yogurt)
• Other products derived from animals such as gelatine
However, there are different dietary patterns that may fall under the vegan category, for example:
• A healthful plant-based diet that emphasizes the intake of “healthful” plant foods such as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, and without vegan “junk food” intake
• An unhealthful diet which emphasizes the consumption of “less healthy” vegan food sources such as fried foods or high-fat, high-sugar bakery and desserts
The Truth About The Vegan Diet
As we’ve just seen, going vegan in a way that emphasis plant foods and that doesn’t lead to nutrient deficiencies may carry some health benefits. However, it doesn’t always GUARANTEE good health. That said, the diet must still be carefully planned in order for you to get the most out of it.
One of the most important things for vegans is that they should still seek to get all the key nutrients that the body needs such as:
• All essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein)
• Both essential fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6
• All essential vitamins
• All essential minerals
This is why it is important to devise a proper vegan diet plan and have it in place before you start implementing the diet…
… because, if not, it could lead to…
The Risks Of The Vegan Diet
The main risks associated with this diet mainly revolve around the insufficient intake of certain nutrients. This is important, because several health conditions may develop due to long-term nutrient deficiencies. That’s why it is recommended that vegans pay attention to avoid this from happening. At the end of the day, there’s always room to become an even better vegan!
In A Nutshell:
The effectiveness of going vegan largely depends on how properly planned your diet is. Indeed, a vegan diet that focuses on plant-based foods, reduces the intake of vegan “junk foods”, and addresses nutrient deficiency risks based on your unique requirements may indeed help some individuals to enjoy a better health.