An Overview of Veganism: Facts, Diet, Pros and Cons of Going Vegan

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Veganism is a type of diet that exclude the consumption of all animal-based products including meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs. A vegan is a person who follows this diet.

This strict form of vegetarianism inhibits the consumption of products processed using animal products too, such as wines and refined white sugar. Some do not use products that utilize animal products and byproducts like leather, wool, certain cosmetics, soaps, and silk.

Reasons to Go Vegan

There are many reasons why some people choose to go vegan. These reasons could be related to health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons. For instance, some vegans choose to eliminate animal products and byproducts from their diet or lifestyle because of mistreatment of animals. Others go vegan for health reasons. Most vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a caring, more humane world and reject the commodity status of animals.

What do Vegans Eat?

The key to a healthy vegan diet is variety. Because there is no consumption of meat and dairy, vegans turn to legumes for protein. A vegan diet consists of grains, beans, legumes, fruits, and vegetables of all kinds. Certain types of foods are also developed to mimic meat or dairy-based products like veggie burgers, tofu cheesecake, vegan hot dogs, vegan cream cheese, and vegan mayonnaise.

The Pros and Cons of Going Vegan

Pro: Boosts Cardiovascular Health

The consumption of organic whole foods is good for the heart. Veganism lowers the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and associated risks of diabetes. A study published in the Diabetes Voice reported that type 2 diabetes patients that adopted a vegan diet experienced a significant drop in bad cholesterol by 21%. Another study by the American Diabetes Association reported that diabetic patients who adopted veganism saw a drop in bad cholesterol LDL by 9%.

Veganism also decreases the risk of death from ischemic heart disease. According to a study by the American Dietetic Association, vegetarianism minimizes the risk of hypertension by lowering the LDL level in the blood. The same study reported that incidence of hypertension and type 2 diabetes is lower among vegans than non-vegans.

Pro: Increases Intake of Antioxidants

Fruits and vegetables are high in antioxidants. A diet rich in fresh, organic fruits and vegetables minimizes the risk of developing chronic diseases associated with oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals that destroy healthy cells. Antioxidants neutralize the effects of free radicals, protecting the cells from damage.

Con: Hard to Stick To

Veganism is harder to stick to because it is a stricter form of vegetarianism. It is difficult to shop for certain foods in the supermarket because these shops typically cater to the meat-eating consumers. In addition, those who are sensitive to certain foods – like soy – will experience even more difficulty looking for foods that suit their lifestyle.  Dining out will be a struggle as well because not a lot of restaurants cater to vegans.

Con: May Worsen Certain Ailments

Certain ailments are aggravated by a vegan diet. These ailments include diabetes and osteoporosis. To avoid existing medication conditions from getting worse, we recommend working with a certified dietician to implement a healthy and safe vegan diet plan.

Nutrient Deficiency

Vegan diets lack vitamin B12, which is an essential nutrient. The same thing goes for calcium and vitamin D, vegan diets are low in these nutrients. You can always get these nutrients from fortified foods and from supplements.