Veganism: Healthy? | Knutsford Times

Veganism: Healthy?

By on February 14, 2010

Four years ago my father decided to take the extra step from vegetarianism by becoming a vegan.

He did it not only for moral reasons but also on the basis that he wanted to improve his health. Before I get any left wing Animal protesters threatening me I’m not going to go into the ethical areas of veganism.

Although I eat meat and dairy I empathise entirely with the notion of not eating or wearing anything from animal products on the basis of animal rights.  For the purposes of this article I am only discussing the notion whether being a vegan is actually a LONG TERM healthy lifestyle choice?

When discussing the health benefits of veganism, many are quick to point out that non-animal based diets tend to be high in fibre, nutrient-rich, cholesterol-free, and low fat. The emphasis that not only is vegan food better for you, but the consumption of non-vegan food, specifically animal fats and proteins, has been linked to a number of health problems- obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, osteoporosis, and several kinds of cancer. According to the ADA (American Dietetic Association), vegetarian and vegan diets are associated with reduced risks for all of these conditions.

The counter-argument that I would draw upon is that although vegan diets are undoubtedly beneficial in certain respects, they are detrimental in others, causing minor to serious health problems that often go unnoticed. Critics maintain that even the most informed, health-conscious vegans run the risk of malnutrition. There are several nutrients that are found in abundance in animal products, but exist in only a handful of vegan foods. Therefore, critics argue, while it is possible to get all of the essential nutrients on a vegan diet, it is extremely challenging and pricey to the majority of the population.

Diets void of meat proteins and replete with plant variety proteins are lacking in many nutrients necessary for optimal health. Soy can inhibit absorption of vital nutrients in the body, and can cause or contribute to deficiencies such as Vitamin B. Vitamin B12, for instance, is only naturally-occurring in animal cells and yeast or mould cells. Since vegan sources of vitamin B12 are scarce, vegans must be vigilant about getting enough of this essential vitamin.

This is an arduous task, made more difficult by the fact that some vegans altogether avoid yeast or bacterial products. These people must rely upon fortified foods and supplements. Supplementation should only ever be used in extreme circumstances as there are more health benefits in having natural occurring foods containing the same nutrients as the absorption of the nutrients is often more efficient. Veganism has a high correlation with poor immunity levels, especially in younger and elderly populations.

Finally veganism does not always induce weight-loss. Given that the predominant macro-nutrient source can be processed carbohydrates. Due to this low protein intake insulin release can occur causing repetitive blood sugar spiking and lethargy (Read my “Christmas- Appetite Control” Article for more on blood sugar response)

To conclude my argument: eating lots of plant-based foods is good for your health. Eating ONLY plant-based foods for the long term is not likely to be good for your health. This article is merely informed opinion so; if you have any alternative viewpoints; if you have tried being; or are currently a vegan, please feel free to make a comment:

About Tom Irvine

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