From international athletes to whole companies, such as Google, and even countries including China are backing the movement to consume more plant-based foods.
Plant-based eating may not be completely mainstream yet, but it is becoming adopted more and more every day. I have been asked a lot recently, about my thoughts on veganism, especially since it has been suggested by the media, that the newborn son of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, may be brought up as a vegan!
If you are thinking of going vegan yourself, have a look at some of those most FAQs, which I get asked surrounding veganism!
What are the main benefits of going vegan?
Research has shown that vegans, as well as vegetarians, are at a decreased risk of various health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer. A diet high in plant-based foods is believed to reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high levels of antioxidants, fibre micronutrients, such as magnesium and unsaturated fatty acids. The lower levels of saturated fats in plant-based foods may also play a role. Additionally, plant foods are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, antioxidants, water, chlorophyll, and vitamin E, which all do fantastic things for your skin. A well-planned vegan diet can also improve your sleep and result in more energy!
What are the pitfalls of veganism?
A well-planned vegan diet can meet the nutrition needs of any individual, but not all plant-based diets are adequate. In the case of veganism, it is well-recognised that appropriate dietary plans must be put in place to ensure adequate intake of vitamin D and vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and calcium. A 2014 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, demonstrated that vegans have low blood levels of vitamins B12 and D, calcium and essential fatty acids. These vitamins and minerals play important roles in bone health and low fatty acids levels are associated with a number of cardiovascular risk factors. So, if you are planning to go vegan, do be mindful that you make sure you don’t become deficient in these micronutrients.
Can veganism really help rheumatoid arthritis as well?
In a 2015 study, 600 participants followed a vegan diet for three weeks which significantly reduced c-reactive protein, a key marker for acute and chronic inflammation. In two small studies published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2010, researchers observed 79 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who did a vegetable fast for seven to 10 days, followed by a vegan diet or lacto-vegetarian diet (includes dairy and egg). In the smaller study (26 participants), the patients followed a lacto-vegetarian diet for nine weeks. Researchers found no significant difference in pain or morning stiffness when compared with the control group. However, in the larger study (53 participants), the patients followed a vegan diet for three and a half months and experienced significant improvement in tender and swollen joints, pain, duration of morning stiffness and grip strength than the people in a control group who consumed an ordinary diet. In another study published in Arthritis Research and Care, 30 patients with rheumatoid arthritis who followed a vegan diet for three months experienced reduced inflammation.
Are vegan foods much more healthy?
It is important not to fall into the trap of eating lots of processed vegan food. It is also important to note that just because a food product is labelled as “vegan”, it doesn’t mean it’s healthier. For example, almond milk is a popular, plant-based milk that’s often a staple in vegan diets. However, while almond milk is low in calories and enriched with several important vitamins and minerals, it is not necessarily healthier than cow’s milk. 250 ml of low-fat cow’s milk contains 8 grams of protein, while the same amount of unsweetened almond milk contains only 1 gram. Also, sweetened almond milk can be high in added sugar, with 16 grams of sugar in 250ml. Other vegan products, such as soy-based veggie burgers, nuggets and meat alternatives, are often highly processed, with a long list of artificial ingredients. Despite being vegan, these products are also often high in calories, yet low in protein, fibre and other nutrients necessary for a balanced meal.
How can go I vegan?
Do vegans live longer?
In one of the largest surveys of data on global dietary habits and longevity, researchers found that consuming vegetables, fruit, fish and whole grains was strongly associated with a longer life. The study, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, covered global eating habits from 1990 to 2017. Additionally, it found that people who limited these healthy foods were more likely to die before their time. The study, which was published in the journal, The Lancet, highlighted that 1/5 of deaths around the world were associated with poor diets. This was defined as diets, which were limited on vegetables, seeds and nuts, but excessive in sugar, salt and trans-fats!
It is advisable that if you are thinking of going vegan, speak to a qualified nutritionist or dietician first. They will be able to make sure a vegan diet is right for you, and help to plan your means, so that they are well-balanced.