Veganism is perceived by many as a radical diet that can have fatal consequences. We are often told stories about irresponsible vegan parents, whose children fell ill or died due to inadequate nutrition, which contributed to such an impression. But have you ever wondered if these stories are true, or yet another marketing strategy to boost the animal slaughtering industry? That is why in Western countries, especially in the USA, more and more vegans prefer to use the term plant-based diet.
The stories the online world has been feeding us have very little effect on those who are aware of the good plant-based diet has on the planet. But, when reading such headlines one can’t help to wonder is a vegan diet is healthy ? Let’s take a look at what science has to say.
Science about veganism
Let us bring forward one fact in the beginning, there still hasn’t been enough scientific research to back up the claims we’ve mentioned in the introduction of this article. But according to the research done by some of the biggest nutrition institutions in the US, a balanced vegan diet meets all the requirements of a healthy diet at all stages of life.
Or to put it in simple words, a well-planned vegan diet will not be deficient in any nutrient, just like an omnivorous diet. If you want to eat healthily, regardless of being a vegan or omnivore, planning is crucial.
If we compare a proper omnivorous diet and a proper vegan diet, both can satisfy all the nutritional needs of the body. On the other hand, a vegan diet, compared to the usual omnivorous diet, has less saturated fat, cholesterol, trans fatty acids, and sugar!
In terms of dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals, a well-balanced vegan diet meets all the needs for these nutrients. It contains more of them than a typical omnivore diet.
The most common concern people have when it comes to a vegan diet involves (insufficient) protein intake. Many omnivores rely on meat, eggs, fish, or dairy products as sources of protein in their daily diet. So, when you remove all those foods from your diet, it seems like there are few protein options left. Most people believe that we can’t get enough protein from plants.
However, vegans argue that the human body really doesn’t need as much protein as most people think. The average daily reference protein intake is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. Most people consume significantly more protein than they need.
With more and more professional athletes opting for a plant-based diet, it’s no surprise that more and more vegan proteins are available on store shelves.
Numerous studies have shown that a vegan or plant-based diet reduces the risk of many diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. One of the main reasons why people give up animal products is concern about the health of meat.
Public health officials and health professionals have historically encouraged people to eat less meat, especially red meat and processed meats like bacon, for better health.
However, recent research has challenged this idea and found a weaker link between red and processed meat and chronic disease than previously thought. Another controversial topic when it comes to animal products is saturated fat.
Saturated fats are found in meat and dairy products and in some plant-based foods such as coconut oil, and many believe that they are the main cause of heart disease. Recent research has revealed, however, that saturated fat does not clog arteries and that heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition.
A diet rich in meat, especially red meat, is associated with a risk of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, a plant-based diet is associated with a lower risk of developing or dying prematurely from these diseases. Cutting back on animal products in favor of plant-based products can also improve your digestion.
Although meat, animal products, and saturated fat may not be as dangerous and harmful to your health, many people prefer to avoid meat for ethical and environmental reasons or for personal preference.
A vegan diet can help reduce the side effects associated with antibiotics and hormones used in modern animal husbandry. Research shows that vegans consume fewer calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to meat eaters, and are also less likely to develop obesity.
Half of the world’s habitable land area is used for agriculture, with the majority used for the production of animal feed, meat, and dairy products. According to research and data from Our World in Data, switching to a plant-based diet would reduce the area needed for food production by 75%.
Scientists estimate that today’s species are dying out 100 to 1000 times faster than it was before the appearance of man, and some even estimate that by the end of the century, half of the plant and animal species could die out due to the destructive human influence on our planet.
It is likely that this scenario will really come true if we do not change our current way of life and the way we eat. Knowledge about the decline of biodiversity, massive pollution of the planet, and the increase and development of diseases caused by the consumption of animal products has existed for a long time in scientific circles, but the problem is that the masses do not understand the connection between the eating habits of individuals and the fate of the planet.
But if we are going to continue existing on this planet, change in terms of our eating habits will have to happen. Luckily, the majority of people in the world are becoming aware of this, and drastically changing the whole habitual pattern of their existence, from what they eat, to how they consume water, and other elements.