Is veganism healthier?
Hot topic these days!
If you choose to go vegan for environmental reasons then by all means, there is no disputing the fact that studies have proven that going vegan is the best way (from a food consumption perspective) to help save the planet.
As long as your actions outside of your food choices align with that, then by all means, kudos to you!
Actions such as - reduction in airline travel, re-usable bags and products, taking the bike option over a car where possible, etc, etc...
Ironically, in a recent study, it was found that flexitarians actually have a lower carbon footprint than vegetarians!
So, if you are choosing to be vegetarian (which I did for a while) to save the planet, be aware that this usually drives up your consumption of other products such as dairy, soy, etc, which in turn can increase your carbon footprint.
This post IS NOT an environmental rant. I just wanted to point out a few things before I got to the main point of this post.
Is being vegan the healthiest option?
Short answer, NO.
Yes, it is true that overall vegans tend to be acutely aware of what they consume, they have to be.
I actually have so much respect for vegans who choose to maintain this diet for extended periods because it takes a hell of a lot of commitment.
Vegans also (obviously) consume a lot of plant-based foods and so this leads to an excellent intake of fibre.
It is actually EXTREMELY hard for vegans to get all the required essential amino acids as most plant-based foods are incomplete proteins. So complimentary proteins must be paired to achieve complete proteins (i.e. - grains & legumes)
It is also important to consider the amount of overall protein consumption as well as the amino acid profile.
Initial data collected back in the late 90’s suggested that very low meat intake was associated with greater longevity.
Lower BMI, cholesterol, mortality & heart disease.
HOWEVER, on review, when they looked at ‘health seeking individuals’ and ruled out people who smoke, drank excessively, etc. (usually NOT vegans) there was actually no difference between the vegetarians and the omnivores.
We all know red meat is bad! LITERALLY, the worst for the environment.
The average footprint of beef, excluding methane, is 36 kilograms of CO2eq per kilogram. This is still nearly four times the mean footprint of chicken.
Or 10 to 100 times the footprint of most plant-based foods.
There are quite a few potential deficiencies that can occur when following a vegan diet and it is important to be aware of the symptoms of them! Fatigue being the most common.
Some of these deficiencies include:
If you are unaware of food sources that contain the things listed above, do not be afraid to drop me a message, I would love to help out where I can!
To sum up, if you are following a vegan diet in order to save the planet then just make sure you are ingesting a varied diet full of all the required vitamins & minerals.
HOWEVER, if you are vegan or are thinking of going vegan for ‘health reasons’, think again, it is a very restrictive diet that requires a LOT of planning.
You can eat an EXTREMELY healthy diet without going vegan -
Being mainly ‘plant based’ i.e. eating a lot of vegetables, fruits & wholegrains.
Reducing (or if possible, cut out completely) red meat
Consume good quality lean protein sources (i.e. dairy, yoghurts, etc.)
Reduce your intake of processed food (note I said: reduce, not, NEVER HAVE EVER AGAIN)
The above are all excellent way of ensuring you have a ‘healthy’, varied, and enjoyable diet while still allowing yourself the foods you love because let's be real, what is life without food!