The amount of people who want to adopt a vegan diet keeps increasing daily. And that’s not surprising because the vegan diet has been proven to have numerous health benefits. Also, going vegan is now the new normal and have activism attached to it because of its ecological and environmental benefits.
However, like many diets, there can be potential issues associated with going vegan, especially if you don’t do it correctly.
What is Plant-Based / Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is a diet without animal products. It is made up of just whole food and plant products, including fruits, grains, vegetables, nuts, and so on.
There are, however, different variations of vegetarians. For some (WFPB), they eat just plants-based products; some eat animal products like eggs and milk but don’t eat meat. Also, some avoid meat but eat fish.
Pros of Vegan Diets:
- Weight loss
Vegan food helps people lose weight. As a result, many dietitians and doctors often recommend a vegan weight loss diet for people who want to lose weight.
- Reduces risks of cardiovascular diseases
Vegan food is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and they are low in fat, cholesterol. The vegan nutrition has been proven to reduce the risk of having cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, obesity, and more.
- Nutritious and healthy
A plant-based diet is packed with valuable nutrients like vitamins, proteins, and this has a positive effect on health.
- Protein and fat
Research shows that the best type of fat for the body is the plant-based fats and animal fat may be more harmful than we think. A vegan diet contains the beneficial fats needed by the body.
Proteins are also essential body nutrients. Although the primary sources of protein are from animal products, there are ways to build a plant-based protein diet just as beneficial for the body as animal sources.
- Weight gain
If a vegan diet is done incorrectly, it may lead to weight gain. How? When people go on a vegan diet, they get hungry and usually replace the animal products they are avoiding with carbs, sugar, and packed vegan food or snacks. This is harmful to health and can reverse vegan weight loss.
So when going vegan, take one step at a time until you get used to it instead of cutting all animal products at once. Also, you can create your vegan meal plan to avoid feeding on unhealthy products.
- Vegan diets lack some micronutrients
Although a vegan diet is full of nutrients, some come in small quantities compared to animal products. Animal products like milk, meat have enough vitamins, B12, calcium, iron, and folate.
When you have a deficit in these micronutrients, it can affect your health negatively. These adverse effects include a mass reduction in muscles and bones, weakness, fatigue, slow metabolism level, and anemia.
Therefore, it is best to take a high-quality supplement of B12 and other micronutrients to your diet. Legumes and cereals are rich in B12. You can also get them from unique vegan desserts, breakfast shakes, and other vegan meals, specially fortified with micronutrients.
- Cost factor and inconvenience
For first-timers, going vegan means changing your old eating habits. And this can sometimes get overwhelming and inconvenient because it may take time for your body to adjust.
Also, you will need to prepare most of your food yourself or visit vegan cafes, which may prove expensive. It would be best if you also had time to organize an exceptional vegan meal plan and make a shopping list. Some vegan food like vegan desserts from soy milk and other products can also be costly to cook.
- Inadequate Protein
Going vegan without a proper vegan meal plan can be harmful, and you may cut out some nutrients, including proteins. As said earlier, proteins are primarily found in animal products. Therefore, to get plant-based proteins on a high level, you’d need to plan and pay attention to your vegan foods and make sure you combine them correctly.
However, first-timers can react negatively to these proteins because their body needs time to get used to it.
Meanwhile, there are alternatives like Beyond Meat and Beyond Burgers -a vegan alternative food rich in plant-based proteins. However, this may be a ‘no’ for strict vegans.
A vegan diet is not as hard as many think it is. If you organize an excellent vegan meal plan filled with plant-based proteins and other micronutrients, then nothing can go wrong.
However, for a healthy meal diet, you need to be deliberate about your food intake. You don’t want to replace animal products with harmful packed food or food filled with sugar and carbs.
You can seek professional guidance to help you through organizing a proper diet or find a vegan cafe to eat your meal sometimes.
Lastly, going vegan should be a deliberate choice. It’s nice to keep the environment safe and stay healthy, but make sure you do it right.