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Is a vegan diet better?

Meat-free diets have been very famous and widely known all around the world for thousands of years; although in the last decade their popularity had strongly increased as more people started to follow them.

What is veganism?

One type of vegetarianism is called veganism, and its dedicated followers abstain from not only eating meat, but also from using all ingredients of animal origin. They also refuse to wear garments made of animal skins, fur, wool or even silk. Veganism is ideally a combination of diet-conscious approach to life and a special lifestyle. Some people might choose to become vegans for ethical or environmental beliefs, while others choose it for health reasons.

Those following a strict vegan lifestyle would never consume eggs, cheese or other dairy products, and some would even reside from the consumption of honey – basically from any product or ingredient whose production is directly linked to animals.

Most of the less known products that are not vegan-friendly use gelatine - which is made from collagen that comes from animal by-products, - bone char, bug-based colouring or casein, milk protein. These could include some sugar, several candies, marshmallows, sauces and dressings, margarine, beers and wines, chips and many more.

Health reasons to go vegan

There is no doubt in it now that being vegan benefits the body in several ways. A vegetarian diet will help to lower cholesterol, aiding in the prevention of different heart diseases. Additionally, recent researches showed that people with Type-2 diabetes can highly benefit from a diet-conscious lifestyle. Those with the condition, who adopted a vegan diet, reduced their ‘low density lipoprotein’ cholesterol by 20 percent.

Vegan diet will also help lower blood pressure. A recent scientific research found that removing even just meat from the diet will help lowering blood pressure to an extent similar to losing five kilos of body fat.

Furthermore, it is also undeniable, that vegan food is much richer in dietary fibre, which helps regulate bowel movements – not only preventing constipation, but also highly reducing the risk of colon cancer. Different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts – which are all the very foundation of vegan-friendly diet – have all have protective features against several popular chronic diseases. These products all have high content of potassium, magnesium, health-promoting folic acid, and the antioxidant vitamins C and E.

Is there a downside to vegan diet?

Very convincing advantages aside, some vegans have dangerously low levels of certain nutrients, which they should be careful of. There is credible evidence to prove that vegan diets generally do not contain enough Vitamin B12, protein, iron, zinc, calcium or riboflavin.

People who regularly consume meat, fish, eggs and dairy products will get plenty of protein in their daily meals, but vegans need to turn to beans and nuts to get enough, as protein is essential for the growth, repair and good functioning of all body cells. Iron deficiency will also cause fatigue and problems with brain function. While the taking in of enough calcium is essential for bone health.

Dining-out can also be very difficult for those following a vegan lifestyle. Not all the restaurants offer true vegan choices – other than fries – and this can lead to several difficulties. Vegan restrictions can also make parties and family events challenging. Although in recent years, due to its increasing popularity, vegetarian and vegan restaurants have been earning more and more space in catering and hospitality circles.

The biggest downside of vegan lifestyle is that it can be seriously dangerous for people with certain medical conditions. These include osteoporosis and certain types of diabetes. For this reason, it is critical to consult with your physician or a registered dietician when planning to adopt a vegan eating plan. It is also essential to remember that vegan diet should be strictly forbidden for children in their early years, as the lack of sufficient nutrients, fibre, vitamins and minerals can cause serious deficits and diseases.

Last words

At the moment, there is no definitive answer as to whether or not being vegan is the best way to go. At the end of the day, the optimal diet for any person depends on a lot of factors. Depending on a person’s age, gender, activity level, metabolic health and personal preference, vegan diet may be appropriate for some people, but not for others.

The most important thing to remember if you decide to go vegan is to include all essential elements in your diet or make sure to take appropriate supplements. Check what you eat and what your meals lack, talk to your physician and always listen to your body. It knows best what is good for you and what not.