Is It Healthier To Be Vegan? Guide To The Pros and Cons
1 CommentFriday, 4 September 2020 | Nicola
Vegan for Health: Your Helpful Guide to the Pros and Cons
Veganism is a controversial diet/lifestyle. The very word can spark a barrage of questions and an intense debate. Meat lovers often roll their eyes at claims that a vegan diet is healthy; science, though, begs to differ. If you're considering going vegan for your health, put down that avocado and read on for the pros and cons of a vegan diet.
WHAT IS VEGANISM AND WHAT CAN'T VEGANS EAT?
Veganism is not just a trendy buzzword or a gimmick to help Gen Z-ers grow their Instagram followings. In fact, the term "vegan" dates back to 1944 when members of the Leicester Vegetarian Society formed a breakaway group that shunned all animal products, including:
- Meat like beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck and turkey
- Fish and shellfish
- Eggs and foods containing eggs, like mayonnaise
- Dairy products like cheese, butter, milk, cream and ice cream
- Honey and foods containing honey
- Gelatine (derived from animal collagen)
- Cochineal (food colouring made from crushed beetles)
- Casein and whey (derived from milk)
- Isinglass (from the swim bladders of fish; used to refine wine and beer)
SO WHAT DO VEGANS ACTUALLY EAT?
Whatever they like! A balanced vegan diet is a plant-based diet with fruit and vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds. It may also include faux meats, vegan cheese, tofu, tempeh and seitan.
A common question is how do vegans get their protein? Ask a vegan this and if you're lucky, you won't get the death stare. Instead, he/she will smile sweetly and rhyme off a list of plant-based protein sources starting with beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, oats, tofu, seitan, tempeh, nut butter, broccoli, sweet potatoes...
SHEESH, OK! SO WHAT ARE THE HEALTH PROS OF A VEGAN DIET?
The uninitiated often consider a vegan diet restrictive and unhealthy. Vegans themselves have long been portrayed as tie-dye-wearing oddballs who live on mung beans and fresh air.
Today though, the stereotypes have been quashed thanks to a new wave of vegan influencers and celebrities. Even better, the healthy eating benefits of veganism are backed by science *pushes up glasses* take a look at the pros of going vegan:
1. Reduced risk of developing chronic diseases including the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal and prostate cancer and Alzheimer's.
2. Longer lifespan since vegans typically have fewer strokes, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and lower BMIs than omnivores.
3. Weight loss or maintain a healthy weight as a balanced vegan diet is lower in calories and saturated fat than other diets.
4. Good for the planet because studies show that cutting meat and dairy from your diet can reduce your carbon footprint by two-thirds. More than half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from processed meat and dairy production.
5. It's easy in 2020! In our modern, "woke" society, it's easy to find vegan food and vegan alternatives to animal products. Pea-protein sausages, egg substitutes, cashew cheeses, vegan chocolate - heck, you can even buy faux bacon (facon)! Many cafés, pubs, restaurants and takeaways have embraced veganism, so eating out as a vegan is no longer an "I'll have a plain salad, please" type struggle.
WHAT ARE THE CONS OF A VEGAN DIET?
Admittedly, going vegan is not without its challenges...
1. There's a flip side to Pro #5 because yes - eateries have jumped on the vegan bandwagon, but no - not all their offerings are healthy, nutritious and balanced. Vegan junk food exists, but it shouldn't form the basis of your diet.
2. You may experience some - ahem - digestive discomfort as your body gets used to plant-based protein. Top Tip: don't go vegan during a national toilet paper shortage.
3. You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements to avoid nutritional deficiencies. Vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids are common stumbling blocks for many new vegans. Omnivores will tell you these nutrients can only be found in animal products, but these are found in plant foods too; fortified plant milks, tofu, nutritional yeast and flax seeds are all vegan sources.
STILL UNSURE ABOUT GOING VEGAN FOR HEALTH REASONS?
If you're considering going vegan, research is important; balance is key. Veganism may not be for everybody, but if you give it a go, you'll be doing right by your long term health and the planet!
LIKE THIS? HUNGRY FOR MORE?
The next article explores how easy (or difficult) it is to go vegan (coming soon).