The Risks & Benefits of a Vegan Diet
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the risks & beenfits of a vegan diet , so we’ve decided to summarize what we think are the main points on both sides of the table.
While following a vegan diet can have a massive benefit on your personal health, as well as the environment, there are a few risks that can be easily overcome when following the right balanced vegan diet.
There’s no doubt that a lot of people undoubtedly decided to become vegan because of the ethical benefits, but there are actually a number of lesser-known health benefits that come from cutting out meat and dairy from your diet.
No Animal Fats
As a plant-based diet, there are obviously no animal fats in vegan foods.
This is great for your health, as animal fats have been linked to conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as various types of cancer.
Research also suggests that by eating 7 (not the typical 5) portions of fruit and vegetables every day, you may reduce your chance of developing some types of cancer by up to 15%.
Surprisingly, vegans can consume a good amount of calcium without consuming any milk or cheese.
Foods such as kale, spinianch, and peas are high in calcium and can help keep your bones strong and healthy.
While it’s not something that everyone is concerned about, losing weight can often be a tricky task, and it’s not helped by meat and dairy consumption.
A number of studies have found that people following a vegan diet lose weight more effectively than those eating meat and consuming dairy products.
If you’re trying to lose weight and typical efforts (exercising more, eating less etc.) haven’t worked, then trying out a vegan diet may be a good idea.
Improved Kidney Function & Blood Sugar Levels
Vegans typically have a lower blood sugar level, which can help to decrease the chance of developing type two diabetes by up to 70%, as well as helping to lower blood sugar levels for people who are already suffering from diabetes.
A number of studies have also found that following a plant-based diet can help to improve your kidney function.
As well as the above health benefits, there are a number of ethical reasons that people may follow a vegan diet.
Helping to prevent the un-due tormention of animals caused by the meat and dairy industry is seen as one of the biggest benefits to veganism by many. By avoiding animal produce you are reducing the demand for large-scale breeding and killing of animals that are often in poor conditions.
Another massive benefit of following a vegan diet is the environmental impact that it can have. Besides the massive amount of plastic packaging that is often required to store meat products, the environmental impact that producing meat and dairy products has is staggering. The amount of food and water needed to grow animals to a size that they can be turned into food is massive, and the energy used to transport them from the field to the shop is also large.
In a world where countries are becoming more and more overcrowded by the day, any way possible to cut-back on the amount of land wasted is great. Luckily, plant-based diets use about 60% less land than dairy and meat production, which helps with the current overpopulation crisis.
Risks of a Vegan Diet
While there are many health and ethical benefits to a vegan diet, there are also a number of things that you should consider in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When following a vegan diet, it’s important to think about the foods that you eat, and the nutrients that they contain. It’s easy to stick to a small variety of meals, but this can result in various vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.
It may be hard to get all of the vitamins you need from a vegan diet, depending on your meal preference, but these can mainly be replaced with vitamin supplements if you are falling short of the recommended intake.
Vitamins to keep an eye on when following a vegan diet may include:
- Iron – This helps your bloodstream absorb more oxygen, and a shortage can lead to tiredness, headaches, and dry skin. The good news is that you can easily replace iron from meat with foods such as leafy greens and dried beans.
- Calcium – Calcium keeps your bones strong and healthy. As we mentioned before, there are a number of vegan foods that are packed full of calcium, as well as a number of vegan substitutes for milk, such as soy and almond.
- Fatty Acids (Omega 3) – These help your eyes, heart, and brain stay healthy, and are often found in fish oils. Two types of Omega 3 (ALA & DHA) can be found in walnuts and soy products – just to name a few.
It’s perfectly possible to have a healthy, balanced diet as a vegan and following meal plans and taking some supplements you can consume the right amount of vitamins and nutrients.
Overall, there are a number of health and ethical benefits to a vegan diet and with the proper planning and understanding, the risks are relatively low.