What is a Vegan Diet:-
Plant based diet or most commonly known as Vegan diet is a diet which excludes all animal based food products such as dairy, eggs honey and meat. There is a lot of debate on whether one should opt the Vegan diet. When followed correctly, Vegan diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, are a rich source of nutrients and most importantly its environment friendly.Vegan diets have their benefits and risks involved, as the vegan lifestyle takes some efforts to be maintained.
Despite the health benefits of vegan diet, many people find it difficult to maintain the vegan lifestyle as a vegan diet has limited food choices and sometimes there are cases of possible nutrient deficiencies.
This guide will enable you to understand what is Vegan Diet?, its benefits and risks involved along with important things to consider before trying it out
Are you guys excited, I am sure you are!
Before we start with the benefits and risks of vegan diets, let us briefly understand the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian diet as mostly they are confused of being the same. Although vegetarians do not meat but they tend to consume dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter etc. However in the case of vegan diet it’s strictly restricted to plant based diet only, means it’s completely devoid of all products with animal based ingredients.
Let’s start with the Benefits of Vegan Diet
1. Lower the risk of chronic diseases
Biggest benefit of a vegan diet is that it can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and many types of cancer. This is mainly because of a substance called “Phytonutrients” found abundantly in fruits and vegetables. A vegan diet is generally high in fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and folate and lower in calories and saturated fats.The nutritional quality of a vegan diet leads to more significant health benefits. Eating a diet rich in plant-based foods has been associated with a decreased risk of many chronic diseases.
There are other studies which have confirmed that plant-based eating may be helpful in the treatment and management of high blood pressure, diverticular disease, and eye cataracts.
2. Weight loss
Another very important benefit of vegan diet is weight loss.Vegans may feel more satiated after eating meals because they consume more nutrient-dense foods packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and fiber-rich, plant-based foods will make you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer, so you’re less likely to snack on something naughty an hour post-meal. The less you eat the less your chances of getting fat
Avoiding dairy products can help you avoid unhealthy fats, which are the main cause of obesity and which in-turn causes many diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cholesterol problem. Many animal foods are high in fat and calories, so replacing these with low calorie plant-based foods can help people manage their weight.
Almost every vegan I know looks very young as per their age, What is the secret?
Vegans look and feel young as their diet promotes collagen production, which decreases as we age, making our skin look thinner and with wrinkles. Vegan diet has more vitamins, antioxidants, water and minerals thus help in increasing collagen production, the main ingredient in collagen production being Vitamin C.
Vegans attribute their healthy, clear and glowing skin to the vegan diet. It is not only the skin, the nails & hair are also better in vegans as the plant based diet is rich in vitamins such as A & B with a sufficient dose of Omega-3.
Vegan diets have a natural tendency to reduce your calorie intake. This makes them effective at promoting weight loss without the need to actively focus on cutting calories.
4. Environmental Benefits
Vegan lifestyle contributes to puts less stress on our natural resources by requiring less land, fossil fuels, and water. Vegan lifestyle is the most effective way to reduce pressure on our environment and may be absolutely crucial to our survival as a species.
Dependency on animals for food via DAIRY INDUSTRY,MEAT INDUSTRY & THE EGG INDUSTRY is inefficient as animals raised for food production are fed over half of the all the world’s crops. As our population grows, we require more and more agricultural space. 60% of worldwide deforestation results from land being converted for use as agricultural land, most of which is used for grazing cattle. Roughly 14% of the world’s population (over 850,000,000 people) suffer from undernourishment while we continue to waste valuable agricultural land and resources to produce animal products, therefore obtaining only a fraction of the potential caloric value. Continuing this foolish management of our natural resources is simply not sustainable.
Animals in the food industry have to go through various inhumane conditions for the food to be put on our plate. For an appeasement of our taste-buds for a couple of minutes an animal has to go through immense pain torture and suffering which in no way justifies the killing and usage of animals for food.
5. Less period pains in women
Studies were conducted on women for period pains.Women swapped to a low-fat vegan diet for two menstrual cycles, and then back to their usual omnivorous diet for their next two. Pain duration and intensity and pre-mentrual symptoms were recorded and levels of a hormone affecting oestrogen levels were measured.
On the low-fat vegan diet, women reported less pain duration and intensity, shorter duration of premenstrual symptoms and tests showed a lower level of oestrogen. People are often surprised to hear that diet can impact hormone levels in the body. This study shows exactly that, and how lower oestrogen levels can benefit women’s health in a number of ways
6. Vegan food is easy on the wallet
Following a vegan diet can save you a good amount of money on food. Non-vegetarian are more expensive than their vegan counterparts. Plant-based diets not only have the potential to dramatically improve human and planetary health, but could have significant benefits for the health of the economy too.
A study conducted in Taiwan states that vegetarians were found to have a lower rate of outpatient visits, which translated into a 13% lower outpatient expenditure and a 15% lower total medical expenditure.
7. Boosts Immunity & Longevity
Plant based foods give phytochemicals in abundance which helps your body to fight various diseases. The nutrients and anti-oxidants in a plant-based diet boost the immune system, making it capable of fighting against a disease as dangerous as cancer. Many studies have been conducted on the life span of vegans vs. meat eaters, and vegan diet has come out as a clear winner. Vegans or vegetarians are found to live at least 3 to 6 years longer than their omnivorous friends. According to Shifting to vegan diet from standard diet can extend your life by an average of 13 more years.
8. Improve Physical Fitness Levels
There are many people who will tell you that the vegan diet isn’t good for those who like to train and do exercise. This is often due to the claim that vegans don’t get enough protein. Of course, if you eat a balanced and varied vegan diet, you will be able to increase the amount of protein you consume.
Studies have shown that vegans have an improved physical fitness level than meat-eating counterparts. It’s not just about the protein levels for stronger muscles, but about the other nutrients to help support the recovery period. A vegan is more likely to recover in a shorter space of time, which helps to get back to training sooner and look after the whole body.
Vegans are also less likely to suffer injuries. They don’t consume the foods that can weaken bones and tissues. They are also more likely to lose weight, which puts less strain on their bodies.
Now let us go through the risks of following a vegan diet
1. Legume protein sources can increase risk of leaky gut
Since a vegan diet excludes all forms of animal protein including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, people following a vegan diet often turn to legumes as a plant-based protein source. Legumes have high levels of anti-nutrients including lectins and phytates, both of which can increase intestinal permeability, also called leaky gut.
On the contrary, protein sources from animals do not contain anti-nutrients and are among the highest sources of foods in terms of nutrition for humans.
2. Risk of Anemia due to a lack of heme iron
Iron-deficient anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, and both vegans and vegetarians are at higher risk of this condition. While plant foods contain a form of iron, it is called non-heme iron and it is much less absorbable by the body.
Iron-deficient anemia can lead to serious symptoms including fatigue, and women of child-bearing age should be aware of how a vegan or vegetarian diet can quickly lead to anemia.
While iron supplements can be taken to help reverse or prevent anemia, most women dislike taking iron supplements because of negative side effects. The simple solution is to consume heme-based iron from red meat sources.
3. Risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency
Vegans tend to develop deficiency of vitamin B12 which is only available in animal foods; vegans are at a much higher risk of developing this deficiency in this vital nutrient.Most nutrition professionals agree that those on a vegan or vegetarian diet must supplement with a high-quality vitamin B12 supplement to avoid irreversible health conditions that can result from deficiency.
It should also be noted that many people have a genetic variation known as MTHFR that can impact how B vitamins are absorbed. In this case, even certain B vitamin supplementation might not be enough to prevent a deficiency.
Considering the benefits and the risks, vegan lifestyle is gaining popularity. Vegan diet can offer various health benefits like weight loss, low risk of chronic diseases, better heart health, to name a few. Apart from the health benefits, it is also environment friendly and also easy on the wallet.
Though there are few downsides to Vegan Diets which can be overcome by the use of supplements if the need be.
So, switching to a vegan diet can be beneficial for you, hope this article helps you to decide whether one should opt the vegan diet.
Cheers and stay strong!