Not long ago, the notion of following a strictly vegan diet was viewed as impractical and intense. Today, veganism has become more of a trend and there is a surprisingly increased number of consumers turning vegan.
A vegan diet is essentially a vegetarian eating style, but it’s completely devoid of animal products, including eggs, honey, and dairy. Some vegans choose the diet for health reasons, but others prefer it for ethical reasons and morale.
With many celebrities and influencers advocating for veganism, the numbers are only soaring. Nevertheless, among all the popular diets out there, veganism is probably the most controversial. Animal rights activists prefer that consumers choose a vegan diet to promote the ethical treatment of animals, but opponents don’t back out to defend their beliefs either.
So, is veganism the healthiest way to eat? Is it a dangerous trend? Or is it something in between? The reality is that there is no one answer. While some might benefit extensively from a vegan diet, some could fall short of nutrition. Like any other diet, going vegan has both benefits and drawbacks. Below are some facts you should know about this increasingly popular diet before you draw any conclusions.
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Pros of Being a Vegan
According to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, if more people adopt a vegan diet, 8.1 million deaths could be avoided annually across the globe. Some possible reasons are mentioned below.
1. Improved Heart Health
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegans and vegetarians are up to one-third less likely to die of heart diseases. This kind of diet may lead to lower blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, healthier weight and less incidence of Type 2 Diabetes, all of which can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
2. Reduced Risk of Cancer
A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute reported that vegans have lower rates of cancer than both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Vegan women, for instance, had 34 percent lower rates of female-specific cancers. And this was compared to a group of healthy omnivores who ate considerably less meat than the general population (two servings a week or more).
3. Increased Anti-Oxidants
A vegan diet is plant-based, meaning the intake of wholesome foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and whole grains is increased. All of these are excellent sources of antioxidants, dietary fiber and vitamins, and minerals.
4. Better Weight Control
People who follow vegetarian or vegan diets are less likely to become obese than individuals who are into an omnivore diet. This could be the result of a rather restricted diet. Cutting out meats and cheese means there is less intake of saturated fat. It also means there’s no intake of conventional cakes and cookies. If your weight is a bit out of control, going vegan could help a lot.
5. Ethical Virtue
Killing animals mercilessly in the name of producing food is not ethical. Even the milk we drink is stolen from the young animals. Animals are sentient beings just like humans and they too have social connections.
All animals can experience stress, pain, and fear. It is not fair that these animals have to die to satisfy an unnecessary dietary preference. So, cutting out animal products from our diet is a kinder, gentler way to live an ethical life.
Some people choose to go vegan because they feel it is better for the planet. The impact of livestock and livestock farming practices is severe on the earth and there is an increasing concern over it. If we were to compare, the production of vegan-friendly food requires far fewer resources than the production of a typical omnivore diet. Eating vegan helps to reduce global warming.
7. Greater Self-Control
It requires a great deal of self-control and willpower to follow a vegan diet if you are used to eating everything. Vegan eating helps slow down the eating process and promote mindful eating. You’ll be discouraged from overeating or eating too many processed food. It can also help you make more sustainable choices and support more conscious brands.
8. Improved Cooking Habits
Switching to a vegan diet means you need to learn how to cook. Meal prep is an essential part of a vegan lifestyle. You might start developing your own recipes so that you don’t get bored with the same dishes every day. Because there are fewer vegan options when you eat out, you will have to learn to cook on your own.
Cons of Being a Vegan
Even though a plant-based diet could be healthier for you and the planet, it doesn’t work for everyone. The following are the drawbacks.
1. Lack of Nutrition
Unfortunately, a diet void of all animal products doesn’t consist of all the nutrition required for our body. Nutrients like calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, and folate could fall short in a vegan diet. Without these elements, it could be difficult for us to thrive as humans.
2. Difficulty in Eating Out
When you eat out, there are fewer vegan options. At first, it might seem impossible to get a dish that has no meat, or even any dairy products. These days, vegan options have increased and there are more vegan eateries out there than ever before but it still can be challenging to find the right place to eat out.
3. Could be Pricey
Home prepared vegan food should not cost much but if you’re relying on processed ones like vegan meat, it could be pricier than a regular omnivore diet. Also, soy milk and almond milk are more expensive than regular cow milk.
Besides, veganism is not just about food. It is a lifestyle where you would choose makeup/toiletries and other products that are cruelty-free/vegan. These could be more on the pricey side than regular ones.
When done right, a plant-based diet can be easy to follow, however, a sudden change in lifestyle can be overwhelming.
Instead, It is better to cut back on animal products gradually and rely more on plant-based foods. One size doesn’t fit all and the ideal diet for any individual depends upon various personal factors like age and health conditions.
So, to ensure that you’re doing it in the best way possible for your optimal health, pay close attention to how you’re feeling on the way. If you’re not feeling your best, it might not be the right diet for you.