Vegan Diet: Is it Healthy?

Image source: Good Housekeeping

Veganism, in simple words, is opting for a lifestyle wherein you exclude all types of animal products in your diet. A vegan diet mostly consists of plant-based items that often also serve as alternatives to animal products. Nutritional yeast as a replacement to cheese, even!       

A vegan diet is healthy, no doubt. But it isn’t the only reason people opt for this lifestyle. There are various reasons why people would go for a vegan diet. 

  • Ethical Reasons: It is a known fact that animal cruelty is real. Even more so when animals are used to produce animal products like milk and meat. As a protest against this very cause, people choose veganism.
  • Environmental Reasons: Veganism tremendously helps the quality of our environment. It reduces carbon footprint, therefore, eliminating the harmful effects that come along with it. 
  • Health Reasons: Studies have proved veganism to be a gateway to a healthier lifestyle as it reduces cholesterol levels, aids in weight loss, and keeps diabetes in check. 

Further elaborating on the third reason,

Is a Vegan Diet a Healthy One?

Vegan diets help you include a lot of nutrients in your diet while allowing you to not consume unhealthy saturated fats. They pamper you with helpful vitamins, minerals, and protein. These plant-based diets are also rich in fiber content. Overall, vegan diets are healthy. In some cases, even healthier than animal-based diets.

Photo by Shannon Nickerson

      However, vegan diets are not much help to bolster one’s health by providing them with iron, calcium, and B-12 vitamins. Because the main sources of iron, calcium, B-12 come from animal-based products, and veganism teaches us to avoid those products. However, after a doctor’s consultation, supplements that can provide those nutrients can be consumed. 

Health benefits of Veganism

Having stated that veganism is essentially a healthy diet, let’s explore how exactly it helps one stay fit and healthy. 

Good for Heart

Veganism lowers cholesterol levels resulting in lower risks of heart diseases. Cholesterol-rich foods like animal meat include high amounts of saturated fats. These fats contribute to deteriorating heart conditions. 

     According to the American Heart Association, plant-based foods are abundant in fiber which elevates the conditions of our heart’s health. Furthermore, vegan diets are known to have lesser calories when compared to animal-based diets. Lesser consumption of calories aids in keeping obesity in check which consequently helps in avoiding risks of heart diseases. 

Reduces the Risk of Type-2 Diabetes

Animal meat is notoriously connected to diabetes. Red meat, specifically, is not a good option if one wants to watch out for diabetes. However, since veganism completely strikes out meat, there is space to lead a Type-2-diabetes-free lifestyle. Also, vegan diets have low blood sugar levels that extensively help in lowering the risk of such diabetes. 

Helps in Weight Loss

Photo by Birgith Roosipuu

It is rightfully said that “Obesity is the mother of all diseases.” Obesity leads to developing heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. Switching to a plant-based diet helps you follow a low-fat eating lifestyle. This allows you to consume more fiber that in turn helps you lose weight. Veganism also propagates eating whole foods over processed foods. Whole foods help you stay full for a long time and are very healthy in nature. 

Lowers Cancer Risk

Research done by the World Health Organisation (WHO) proves that the inclusion of a vegan diet in one’s lifestyle can significantly lower the risk of certain cancers. It is because eating a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables increases the fiber and vitamin content. These nutrients help our bodies combat cancer. Additionally, phytochemicals (compounds found in plants) help fight the risk of cancer. 

Affects Mood and Skin

Photo by Lesly Juarez

After all, you are what you eat. Vegan foods are known to boost serotonin levels. Serotonin is a happy chemical. This is mainly because foods like soya, nuts, and lentils contribute to increasing these serotonin levels. Consequently, veganism then helps you in lowering the chances of depression. 

     Dairy foods pave way for acne. Since veganism allows you to avoid dairy and eat foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants, you don’t have to worry much about acne!

Gives Strength

Contrary to the popular opinion that vegan foods don’t provide the necessary nutrients to make you strong, there are tons of options available! 

     Including spirulina in a diet can enhance its strength-providing quality. Additionally, eating seeds, nuts, legumes, beans, fruits, and vegetables helps build strength as they increase protein and nutrient levels in our body. 

Overall, veganism promotes a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle that assists you in becoming a stronger, fitter, and healthier version of yourself. 

Now the question is, 

To what extent?

Moderation is a key to everything.

Consuming high amounts of anything, even plant-based foods can be harmful to one’s health. For example, it is known that legumes are a rich source of protein. But consuming high levels of legumes can also increase the levels of anti-nutrients that aren’t good for our health. Similarly, excess consumption of soy can lead to excessively consuming cadmium, a heavy metal. 

     Veganism also lacks necessary nutrients like iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and zinc. These nutrients are much needed to live a healthy lifestyle. However, we don’t need to worry much because plant-based alternatives and supplements can make up for these nutrients. 

Photo by roam in color

No matter which diet is followed, it must be balanced. If a vegan diet is followed in a proper way with a balance of all the right foods, it will prove to be healthy. It will be able to provide the necessary nutrients to battle diseases and stay fit.

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