The concept and practice of veganism have seen a massive rise in popularity across the globe over the past few years. Those who are not familiar with the concepts of veganism often get confused between a vegetarian and a vegan diet. A vegan diet is devoid of animal products such as any type of meat, fish, eggs, or even dairy and honey. People following the vegan diet only consume plant-based products that do not contain any substance derived from an animal. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into a vegan lifestyle, and the advantages as well as the disadvantages of it.
There are many reasons why an individual may choose to go vegan. A vegan lifestyle is not just limited to food choices. People who strictly follow veganism also do not buy or use any goods made from animal products like leather belts and purses, creams and ointments, etc.
Most people consider going vegan for ethical reasons. Each year, hundreds of millions of livestock are raised in terrible conditions on meat farms and killed to produce meat for human consumption. Some people also choose to go vegan for the environment, as producing meat requires incredible amounts of resources and water and leads to a major increase in emissions of greenhouse gases.
There have been multiple studies that have established the benefits of following a vegan diet. Some of the most significant advantages of a vegan diet are below:
Lower Risk of blood pressure:
According to a study, people who follow a vegan diet have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure, compared to those who eat both meat and plant-based foods.
Many studies have proved that a vegan diet leads to weight loss and vegan people have a lower BMI than non-vegetarians on average. The main reason behind weight loss through a vegan diet is calorie reduction. Meat is highly dense in calories compared to vegan products, which are equally filling.
Reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease:
Another study involving 61,000 people has shown that vegans are 2.6 times less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes compared to non-vegetarians. A vegan diet can also help you to control your blood sugar levels.
Reduced risk of cancer:
As per an in-depth study by the NCBI, a vegan diet can also help to reduce the risk of cancers such as breast cancer or prostate cancer.
Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease:
Completely stopping your intake of animal-based foods like meat, dairy can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Animal-based foods are believed to exacerbate symptoms of Alzheimer’s whereas a fully vegan diet promotes a healthier brain.
Good for the environment:
As mentioned above, producing meat requires a ton of resources and causes greenhouse gas emissions. If enough people around the world go vegan, it would reduce its impact on the environment.
A vegan diet can have many upsides and benefits, but it comes with some disadvantages as well. A completely vegan diet does not contain all the nutrients that the human body needs to function properly. Here are some disadvantages of a vegan diet:
When following a strict vegan diet, you may end up having micronutrient deficiency. Vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Omega 3 fatty acids and zinc are hard to find in a vegan diet, so a good idea is to use supplements to increase your intake of these important micronutrients to normal levels.
Lack of protein:
The human body needs approximately 0.8 grams of protein per day per kg of body mass. However, obtaining protein from a purely vegan diet can be difficult. Even items like tofu or soya do not contain enough protein to fulfil daily requirements and its excessive consumption may lead to digestive problems. Moreover, protein deficiency may lead to problems such as hair loss, fatigue.
A purely vegan diet can be very difficult to follow in the long term, as you will need to stop eating a majority of available food such as milk, butter, cheese, meat, animal-based oils etc.
Any type of food that does not contain traces of animal products and are solely produced from plant-based materials can be classified as vegan food. All fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc, can be used when following a vegan diet. Let’s take a look at some of the popular food items that can be consumed as part of a vegan diet:
Vegan milk (soy milk, almond milk)
All grains and flour
Tea, coffee and other plant-based beverages
Plant-based oils like sunflower oil, olive oil etc.
Many food companies have now started developing fully vegan products to cater to the increasing number of vegan people. Even in India, you will be able to find vegan milk and cheese in supermarkets and malls. Online grocery services also offer vegan products these days. However, before starting a vegan diet you should consult your doctor to determine if you have any deficiencies and consider getting supplements.
Starting a vegan diet can be a difficult but rewarding experience. There are many benefits to becoming vegan but you should always make sure that all of your nutrition needs are being met. Moreover, you should also exercise regularly to keep your body fit and increase the positive effects of veganism. However, regardless of your diet choices, it is always a good idea to have a good health insurance plan in place. Unexpected medical emergencies can be mentally and financially draining and health insurance can help you rest easy knowing you have the coverage for any medical emergencies in the future. You can take a look at the various health insurance available at Bajaj Markets and choose one that suits your and your family’s needs.
You can eat all plant-based foods that do not contain any traces of animal products in a vegan diet.
A vegan diet consists of purely plant-based foods whereas most vegetarians consume animal products like milk, butter, cheese, eggs etc., but not any type of meat or fish.
As cheese is a byproduct of milk, vegans can't eat cheese. However, many companies have introduced plant-based cheese products that you can purchase.
Most of the types of pasta available in stores are made out of wheat and other plant products. However, make sure to check the ingredients before buying, in case you are following a vegan diet.
Many studies have shown that people who start following a vegan diet see a short term weight loss after their diet starts. You can also exercise to increase the speed of your weight loss.