Before starting any type of diet or lifestyle, it’s important to do your research. So if you’re interested in veganism, read this to understand the pros and cons of the vegan diet.
You have a right to eat meat, avoid meat or even select a vegan diet that excludes meat, dairy, and any other animal-derived products.
It’s one of the most fundamental rights of the western world and democracy – the freedom to choose your own path in life.
6% of US citizens have chosen the vegan path. But is it for you?
The Pros Of The Vegan Diet
There are a number of nutritional benefits to the vegan lifestyle:
Low Saturated Fats
Most saturated fats are in dairy and meat. Eliminating these can improve your cardiovascular health and even help you lose weight.
Lower consumption of saturated fats has also been linked with a reduction in bad cholesterol and can potentially decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fruits & vegetables are super healthy as they are full of slow digesting carbohydrates and fiber. This helps you to stay full for longer and releases energy slowly throughout the day.
Fruits and vegetables are also good for providing lots of micronutrients, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E and an array of antioxidants.
In fact, you can get all your key nutritional requirements from fruit and veg!
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Folic Acid
There are two types of fiber and both are supplied by the fruits and vegetables you eat.
The first is soluble and helps makes your stools softer.
The second is insoluble; this encourages the smooth passage of food through your intestines and into your bowels.
The fact that fiber keeps you feeling fuller for longer which reduces snacking is also a huge bonus!
It’s Ethically Better
Vegan diets avoid any food that is derived from an animal. This means you are not taking part in harming or cruelty to any animal.
This may not be a nutritional benefit, but it is certainly a moral one.
The Cons Of The Vegan Diet
While the vegan diet encourages the consumption of fruit and vegetables, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be eating healthily.
There are some things you need to watch for. After all, if you fry all your food in vegetable oil and eat fried chips every day, you know you’re not being healthy (even if these foods are vegan).
Here’s what to watch for to ensure your vegan lifestyle is healthy and full of good food!
Protein is an essential part of the building and repairing of muscles in your body. The foods highest in protein are meat and dairy, so a vegan diet typically has less protein.
You do get protein from fruit and vegetables, as well as other vegan protein sources such as soy, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. But the content is lower. So it could be a good idea to use a vegan protein powder to make sure you’re eating enough protein.
It’s also important to know that vegan foods include iron (but in lower concentrations than meat). If you are feeling tired or lethargic, or want to make sure you are getting enough iron, I would request a blood test from your doctor.
Difficulty Finding Vegan Foods
It can be difficult to find vegan foods when you’re eating out or even when you’re out cooking at home. Although there are more restaurants catering for vegans now, it can still be hard to find these types of foods. In addition, cooking at home can become monotonous unless you make a real effort to include variety in your diet.
If you’re buying already prepared food; even faux meat; you need to check the labels.
The packaged food can contain animal-derived products. The following are common ingredients but are animal derived:
- Pork gelatin – in sweets and chewing gum
- Isinglass – in beer and wine
- Carmine food coloring – food dyed red
- L-Cysteine – in many breads and other dough-based products
- Bone char – can be used to filter sugar; making the sugar animal derived!
“Unhealthy” Vegan Foods
Being vegan doesn’t mean that your diet is automatically healthy. You still need to watch what you eat, like everyone else.
All processed sugar (besides honey) is vegan. So you can eat a vegan diet that is full of sugar and empty calories – this is something you will need to watch out for.
There can also find many “bad foods” with vegan alternatives. These include things such as fried chicken, pizza and mac, and cheese. If you fill your diet with unhealthy foods that have been disguised as healthy with a vegan label, you’re not really eating healthy.
To get the full benefits of the vegan diet, you must focus mostly on fruit and vegetables which have all of the fiber, nutrients, and goodness! And also on the whole foods (that don’t come pre-packaged) such as nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Summing Up the Pros and Cons of the Vegan Diet
The vegan diet does offer the opportunity to help the planet while improving your health. However, as with any diet you still need to pay attention to what you’re eating and read nutrition labels.
Of course, the final choice is yours. But, providing you pay attention to the cons above, there is no reason that vegan can’t be the right choice for you!