If you have been toying with the idea of going completely vegan, you may be concerned as to whether it is the right choice to make in terms of maintaining your health and wellbeing.
However, according to researchers and specialists, there are so many vegan health benefits that aren’t found in meat and animal-based diets.
In this article, we’re going to take a balanced view on the health benefits of a vegan diet and the cons that may also come alongside the huge dietary change.
Vegan Health Benefits
1. More nutrients
Upon becoming vegan, you’ll be eliminating meats and other animal by-products from your diet, meaning you’ll need to gain nutrients from elsewhere. Studies have proven that vegan diets tend to contain more of the following over a standard Western animal-based diet:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
All of these nutrients play their part in determining why being a vegan is healthy for humans.
Protein found in meat will no longer be a part of your consumption, but you still need to consume the adequate substitute to achieve a balanced diet. Protein is made up of amino acids, which help to keep your bones, muscles and internal organs in good health. As a vegan, you can certainly obtain all the same nutrients from seeds, grains, and nut butters.
But there’s more!
These plant-based foods can also offer oodles of protein for a vegan lifestyle:
- Tofu, tempeh, and edamame
2. Improved mood
It has been suggested by healthcare professionals that those who switch to the vegan diet are found to be far happier in themselves than those on meat-based diets. Fewer suffered from anxiety and depression, which is one of the main vegan health benefits. In reference to the study, switching to a vegan diet would be ideal for those who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition or have the symptoms and are looking for ways to gain a positive frame of mind.
It’s likely that the vegan diet helps stimulate the mind as it is plant-based, therefore everything consumed is completely fresh and typically doesn’t contain additives or preservatives in comparison to most other foods within the typical animal-based diet.
3. Fewer migraines
If you suffer from migraines, you’ll be pleased to know that one of the immediate benefits of a vegan diet is that it could dramatically improve the symptoms, or even eliminate migraines completely. Migraines are usually caused by the type of foods we eat, but due to the freshness of a vegan diet, there’s a far less chance of having regular flare-ups. This is certainly one of the best vegan health benefits especially for migraine sufferers, who struggle to find solutions on combating symptoms.
Cheese and chocolate are two of the worst foods you can eat if you’re a migraine sufferer due to the ingredients they contain, but you won’t be able to eat them anyway if you choose to become a vegan.
4. Weight loss
If you’re always researching the best weight-loss regimes, then you should definitely consider becoming vegan. One of the main health reasons to go vegan is that the diet has been proven to combat obesity, which is likely due to eating plenty of fiber and a limited amount of protein.
As a basis, the vegan diet depends on foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts – all of which are very low in fat. Plants are also brilliant for healthy digestion, so you’ll also experience less bloating.
5. Reduced risk of cancer
Consuming too much animal fat could lead to extremely high estrogen levels, which is one of the leading factors contributing to breast cancer. However, as vegans don’t consume any animal products at all, this prospect is significantly reduced and is certainly a vegan health benefit that cannot be ignored.
Research has also found that eating up to seven portions of fruit and vegetables each day could reduce your risk of dying from cancer by 13%. There has been no cure for cancer or explanation as to why people develop the disease. Research carried out is solely observational from past cases rather than concrete evidence.
Vegan Health Concerns
While there are many vegan diet health benefits, it isn’t for everyone, and there are a few perceived vegan health concerns that come alongside going completely meat and animal-product free. Here are just a few to bear in mind:
1. Iron deficiency
The body needs iron to produce essential red blood cells. If there is a lack of iron in the body, it can have a negative effect on our health. The most typical symptoms of iron deficiency include feeling overwhelmingly tired and drained, as well as a lack of concentration and memory loss. Meat contains iron, which is why it’s an uncommon occurrence for meat-eaters to experience these symptoms. But news flash: you do not need to eat meat to get your iron!
It is recommended that females between the ages of 19-50 should be getting at least 18 milligrams of iron each day, while men only need 8 milligrams in order to maintain good iron levels. Some vegans may need to incorporate some form of iron supplement into their diet.
Iron can be found in a whole slew of plant-based foods such as:
- Tofu and Soybeans
- Red kidney beans
- Spinach, Kale and Swiss chard
- Potatoes (with the skin on!)
- Oyster mushrooms
- Palm hearts
- Prune juice
When eating iron-rich foods, try to combine it with a food that is rich in Vitamin C, to help increase your body’s absorption of iron.
2. Potential interference with existing health complaints
Switching diets isn’t an easy task for anyone, but it can be especially challenging for those who are suffering from a pre-existing health condition. For those with the likes of diabetes or osteoporosis, work with your medical professional to determine the right plant-based diet and meal plan for your condition.
If your healthcare provider does not recommend a vegan diet, then do the research to find one that does. It can be the difference between living a long healthy life, or suffering from your ailment until it becomes critical. What you consume is fundamental to your day-to-day health and wellbeing.
3. Lack of calcium
It can be difficult for new vegans to get their recommended dosage of calcium, as it is most typically found in milk, cheese, and butter. Cutting down on calcium has been proven to reduce cholesterol for improved heart health. This could be considered a vegan health benefit, however, calcium is still very much needed to maintain the health and strength of your bones and teeth.
Not to worry, you do not need dairy for calcium! Vegans can include the recommended dose of calcium in their diet by consuming these foods:
- Chia seeds
- Hemp milk
- All kinds of beans
4. Vitamin B12
One of the biggest concerns for vegans is that they aren’t able to get enough B12 in the diet, as it’s not found in plant-based products. B12 is an essential vitamin to help with digestion, boost energy levels and improve heart health to name just a few. As it cannot be consumed through most of the foods they eat, vegans are recommended to take supplements in tablet or liquid form to ensure the body isn’t lacking in this vital vitamin. Talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new supplements.
5. Omega 3 fatty acids
Fatty acids are usually found in fish and are essential for preventing serious heart conditions, as well as improving the function of the brain and eyes. Rapeseed and soy oils are what vegans choose as an alternative, but there has been no evidence to prove that they are as effective as the omega 3 fatty acids contained within fish. Otherwise, supplements in tablet or liquid form can be taken to be on the safe side.
If you think carefully about how you can incorporate plants into your diet sensibly, you’ll understand the true impact of vegan health benefits. However, not doing the relevant research could mean you’re lacking in essential nutrients which may potentially increase your chances of developing an array of health conditions.
What are your thoughts on the vegan health benefits vs. the concerns?
Share with us in the comments below!