Updated: Jun 21
With more people consuming vegan diets, it’s normal to wonder “is the vegan diet healthy?” Read on for more information on the benefits of vegan diets.
Is the Vegan Diet Healthy?
The short answer to whether the vegan diet is healthy is yes. There are multiple health benefits of going vegan, including increasing beneficial nutrients in your daily diet and potentially preventing or treating type 2 diabetes. |*|
A vegan diet is healthy when it includes the appropriate nutrients necessary for daily life. A healthy vegan diet should consist of foods that provide adequate iron, calcium, B12, and protein sources. |*|
The key to enjoying a vegan diet with health benefits is planning. According to the American Dietetic Association, planning out meals beforehand allows for nutritionally adequate meals that may reduce chronic diseases. |*|
While some sources note concern for children consuming a vegan or vegetarian diet, there is significant evidence that vegan diets are rich in nutrients and can be consumed by people of all ages with health benefits. |*|
Vegetarian vs. Vegan
There are a few differences between consuming a vegetarian and a vegan diet. As a quick explanation, a vegan diet does not consist of anything related to animals. This includes both animal meat and byproducts like cheese, milk, and honey.
A vegetarian diet does not include animal foods like seafood, pork, beef, etc., like a vegan diet. However, vegetarians typically also eat dairy, eggs, and honey.
For example, lacto-ovo vegetarians, a popular variation of a vegetarian diet, consume dairy and eggs.
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What Is a Vegan Diet?
Now that you're aware of what you can't consume on a vegan diet, you may be wondering what you can consume. Healthy vegan diets consist of vegetables, fruit, plant protein (like legumes), bread, pasta, nuts, seeds, non-dairy milk, and vegetable oils. |*|
When following a vegan diet, it’s important to check food labels to ensure dairy and other animal products are not included in the ingredients.
Vegan Benefits for Health
As noted, there are vegan benefits for health, including potentially losing weight, lessening the number of medications necessary for an individual, and the possibility of improving chronic illnesses. |*| Below, you’ll find additional information on the benefits of a vegan diet.
1. Increased Nutrient Intake
As you may have noticed from other diets, like the low-carb diet, consuming less of one food group pushes you toward consuming more from another food group to satiate hunger. Instead of consuming meat, milk, and cheese, most vegans tend to gain their energy from sources like nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
When all three diets were compared (omnivores, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans), vegans had a higher beneficial intake of carbs, fiber, and iron. |*|
2. Possible Weight Loss
Those seeking to switch to a vegan diet for weight loss will be happy to note that this study did show a positive impact on weight when the study participants consumed a vegan diet over 16 weeks. |*|
It has also been noted that those who consume a plant-based diet have a lower BMI (body mass index) than those who consume an omnivorous diet. |*|
3. Potential Management of Chronic Diseases
Besides offering potential weight loss and an uptick in nutrient-rich foods, those who consume a vegan diet tend to maintain more stable blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial in those who have type 2 diabetes. According to this study, those with type 2 diabetes who consume a vegan diet could lower their blood sugar levels, resulting in requiring less diabetes medication. |*|
Another benefit is the potential prevention of specific cancers. Consuming red meat and processed meat has been linked to cancers like prostate and breast cancer. |*| By avoiding these foods in your diet, you can potentially decrease the risk of these types of cancer.
Additionally, avoiding meat and animal products can aid in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to one study, vegan diets can have a positive effect on hypertension and offer a higher rate of protection toward heart disease than vegetarian or lacto-ovo vegetarian diets. |*| As vegan diets tend to have lower levels of saturated fat, this also aids in decreasing the risk of heart disease. |*, *|
Related article: Foods That Lower Inflammation: 5 Foods to Incorporate Into Your Diet.
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Final Notes on Vegan Benefits for Health
These listed benefits are only a few of the many you can see from switching to a healthy, balanced vegan diet. Generally, adding whole grains and more plant foods has a beneficial impact on the body.
In conclusion, vegan diets tend to be healthy with proper planning. This diet also provides multiple health benefits.
Plan out your vegan diet and plant-based foods with the help of a Vegan Grocery List to ensure you are getting the appropriate nutrients each week.
As always, check with a medical professional before proceeding with any dietary changes.