Diets have gotten a lot more extensive and complex in the past few decades: whether it’s for workouts, health issues, or moral reasons, it’s undeniable that certain diets have developed communities of like-minded individuals thanks to the seamless communication of the digital age. The vegan community is one of the most passionate for life and many choose to abstain from consuming animal products altogether for moral reasons. As omnivores, humans thrive off well-balanced nutrition that comes from meat and vegetables, but many foods have found non-animal alternatives for the former. Does this work and is being vegan good for your body?
Health Benefits of Being Vegan
Vegans have gotten mixed reception over the years; from being noble advocates of life preservation to obnoxious social justice warriors and anything in between. Treatment of animals in the agricultural industry, greenhouse gas emissions, and even cost efficiency from reducing livestock maintenance. In the pursuit to uphold abstinence from animal products, many have found nutritional substitutions fake meat, beans, nuts, and more.
For starters, increasing the overall intake of fruits and vegetables already provides the body with high fiber, potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamins A, C, and E. Of course, not all vegan diets are exactly the same, but practitioners can expect more of the aforementioned nutrients than the average diet.
The carbohydrate of choice for vegans are usually whole grains. Because of this and avoidance of animal fat and dairy products, many have found the way to go for losing fat quickly. By going completely organic, the default amount of sugar consumed is drastically reduced and leads to lower blood sugar levels and higher insulin sensitivity.
The latter benefits by lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes from 50% to almost 80%. Consuming plant-based protein has also proven to reduce risks of kidney failure. It’s evident that eating organically has tons of benefits that help mitigate long-term risks, but with many other extreme diets, the starvation of animal-based ingredients has ramifications too.
The problem with meal plans that avoid ingredients found in a “regular” diet, is that it puts the body into an abnormal situation where it is deprived of certain nutrients while facing a surplus in some. Cutting out dairy products can take a huge hit on calcium consumption as it rules out the majority of sources right off the bat. The only options left are kale, okra, and spinach - but contain far less than dairy. Other deficits you can expect to face if you ever choose this diet will be in Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc.
Iron is also a nutrient that the body will be deprived of as the majority of iron sources come from animals. Iron is responsible for oxygen transportation within the body - Some fruits and vegetables may contain the nutrient, but certainly to a far lesser extent. Vitamin B12 is another deficiency that comes with the diet, and the symptoms can easily be overlooked.
Starving off said nutrient will cause weight loss and appetite loss which would come with the diet regardless. There are supplements in the market that can help supply your body with the nutrients lacking, but it is best to be mindful of the quality of supplements and potential side effects they might have.
Does being vegan affect your health?
Despite the noble causes that veganism advocates, partaking in this diet have massive risks. The body has biologically always been fueled by a blend of animal and plant-based nutrients to thrive and starvation of either one of them can harbor dangerous results.
Plant-based alternatives are feasible should you take the vegan diet seriously, but it must be done carefully. If you have a gameplan for substituting each mandatory nutrient with a plant-based alternative, it is definitely a feasible choice that can add tons of benefits to the body.
Much like any diet, being vegan takes tons of research and preparation to do it right and is best suited if it is adopted as a long-term commitment, rather than something to try out.