A vegan diet is one that excludes all animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs.
Vegan diets are rich in dietary fiber from fruit, vegetables. legumes, grains, and nuts while being low in fat. Some of the health benefits of a vegan diet include lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure levels, and a reduced risk of certain kinds of cancer.
The vegan diet has no dietary cholesterol because it comes from animal sources. Plant foods do not naturally contain any cholesterol.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cautions that eliminating an entire food group may increase the risk for nutrient deficiencies. With careful planning, however, a vegan diet can be nutritionally adequate.
Vegans have lower body mass indices than both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, according to a 2009 study published in the “Journal of the American Dietetic Association”.
The same study found that male vegetarians had an average BMI of 2.4 units lower than those on an omnivorous diet, and female vegetarians had an average BMI of 3.2 units lower than their counterparts.
A vegan diet provides more fiber and a broader range of antioxidants, including vitamin C and E as well as phytochemicals – plant compounds – which may reduce the risk of cancer. Vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. They also have a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease.
The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson when the UK Vegan Society he founded decided to avoid the use of animal products in what they advertised as “the non-dairy vegetarian diet.” The Vegan Society soon extended the philosophy behind veganism to oppose all exploitation of animals, not only in the diet.
Vegan diets are rich in dietary fiber from fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts while being low fat. Some of the health benefits of a vegan diet include lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure levels, and a reduced risk of certain kinds of cancer.
The Vegan Diet Has No Dietary Cholesterol Because It Comes From Animal Sources. Plant Foods Do Not Naturally Contain Any Cholesterol.
One study showed that vegans had better digestibility of their protein-rich food when they ate slowly compared to when they ate quickly. The same study found that although both vegan and omnivorous diets provide about the same number of calories, the source of protein (animal vs. plant) affected total caloric intake in favor of vegans. Vegans may be at risk for osteoporosis due to lower intakes of calcium, vitamin D, and Vitamin K. Vegan diets tend to contain more fruits and vegetables than omnivore diets and maybe lower in dietary energy, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B 12.
Vegetarian diets typically contain similar levels of iron to non-vegetarian diets but this is lower than the actually measured intake (3.8mg/day) in the US population. There is evidence that vegetarians and vegans have a lower body iron store than non-vegetarians, partly because of their lower intake of iron and partly because they absorb and use more of what they consume.
Iron deficiency affects 1.62 billion people worldwide and leads to anemia. It is estimated that one-third of dietary iron comes from animal products in the modern world, although recent studies have shown no significant difference between vegetarians and non-vegetarians in terms of serum ferritin concentrations. Iron deficiency anemia is found as often among meat eaters as it is among vegetarians, though studies suggest that vegetarians’ iron stores are better.
The American Dietetic Association states that iron deficiency is no more common in vegetarians than non-vegetarians adult males, and cites studies that found similar intakes of iron and higher serum ferritin concentrations among vegetarian men as compared to omnivorous men.
moderately low risk of developing the diverticular disease compared to meat-eaters, while vegetarians (and especially vegans) are at an increased risk.
The journal “Nutrients” published a study in 2017 on the antioxidant content of 45 plant-based foods and found that raw vegan diets had the highest average content of antioxidants compared to other types of a vegetarian diet. Vegan diets have been studied for how they impact the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol, is the one that contributes most to cardiovascular diseases as it builds up in the inner walls of arteries causing atherosclerosis which can lead to heart attack, stroke as well as peripheral vascular diseases. The terms “vegan” and “plant-based diet” have been shown to significantly improve the lipid profile.
Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals while being lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and Vitamin B12. As for the health concerns regarding plant protein compared to animal protein, one review found little difference between them, suggesting that a well-planned vegetarian or vegan diet could be “as nutritious as an omnivorous diet of similar dietary pattern”.
Vegan diets are often criticized for being more expensive, which may result from the extra expense of buying healthy foods. However, even when all expenses were accounted for, vegan diets appeared to be an economical alternative to standard dietary practices in terms of cost per day, although further studies would be necessary to explore this possibility fully.
Vegetarianism is associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and somatoform disorder, although causality cannot be established.
Veganism is associated with a slightly lower risk of type 2 diabetes compared to other diets. The reason for which the risk is decreased is still unclear as there was no significant difference in blood sugar levels among those following a vegan diet or those on the Alternate Mediterranean Diet.
A vegan diet may be more expensive than a meat-based diet, but the cost of getting necessary nutrients may also be higher for vegetarians. As with any restrictive diet, it is possible to spend less money while still getting all of the required nutrients by choosing wisely and shopping carefully; some people who switch to a vegan lifestyle even report saving money because they buy less processed foods and eat out less.
The American Dietetic Association released a position paper on vegetarian diets in 2009, stating: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
They also determined that a well-planned vegetarian diet can meet the requirements for pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence. The association recommends that vegans choose foods fortified with vitamin B12 or take supplements.
Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, and phytochemicals while being lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and Vitamin B12.
Some of the nutrients that vegan diets may be lacking include creatine (“see also carnitine”) , Carnosine (“see also taurine”), Vitamin B12 (“see also folic acid”), omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and iron. Compared to the average nonvegetarian, vegans tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure.