Firstly, this is not a hate-on veganism. I was a vegan for many of the 27 years I was vegetarian. That being said, when it comes to changing your diet it’s important to understand all sides of the equation and not just what we hear on social media.
Let’s be clear, this is NOT about whether you should or shouldn’t try a vegan diet, it’s simply to point out the pros and cons so that you can make an educated decision. Shall we?
THE PROS AND CONS OF GOING VEGAN:
Vegan diets can help you get more whole unprocessed foods. A ‘natural’ vegan diet is rich in plants – veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds etc. For someone who might have a more ‘westernised’ diet this can be a great improvement.
Vegan food can also be horribly processed – just check out some of the vegan options at the supermarket. Yikes! A vegan burger, or cheese here and there is fine but ideally, it’s not a staple of your diet (which can easily happen if we’re busy).
Like any diet, when it becomes ‘cool’ often you’ll see a rise in packaged products to support the current trend. You can get vegan substitutions for just about any animal product but that doesn’t mean they are healthy. In fact, they can sometimes be the opposite.
Just because something is labelled as 'vegan' doesn't make it healthy, just like 'gluten free' or 'paleo' or the plethora of other processed foods on the market.
Vegan diets can increase variety in our diet. When we limit foods that we’re used to, this means we have to think outside the box. When I first went vegetarian I had to stat being creative. I cooked more, I researched new and exciting recipes and I felt great!
Vegan diets can be also be horribly restrictive. It’s one thing to give up animal products for personal reasons but lately I’ve seen a lot of vegan folks trying to persuade people to also give up all oil too. This is not ideal, I’ve written about it here.
Vegan diets are in fact lacking in some nutrients, in particular, B12. B12 is very important for human health and there are no natural vegan sources of this. You can buy supplementation, and I recommend you do so. You may also want to consider an iron supplement.
Vegan diets can help you lose weight. I run a weight-neutral practice and so I say this simply knowing that some people are still wanting to focus on that number. Often, when we change to a vegan diet, we also reduce calories as a lot of high calorie foods are exchanged for exchange for lower calorie carbohydrates. This can result in a calorie deficit and weight loss will sometimes occur.
Weight loss is not always an indication of health improving. There are lots of reasons why we may lose weight, not all of them are good.
Vegan diets can make some people feel great. Again, when we take on a more plant focused diet with more home cooked meals, we’re probably going to feel good.
Ultimately, any diet that revolves around heaps of delicious veggies, quality protein, healthy fats and a healthy lifestyle is going to make you feel great. And as always, within that there’s always room for chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
Vegan diets can also make people feel like sh**. One thing about vegan diets is that they are super high in carbohydrates which might be fine for some but for others, in particular those with metabolic disorders, this can have a negative effect on their health.
Be mindful and if any diet makes you feel unwell, chat with a nutritionist to see if there’s something you can do to improve it.
Ultimately, a vegan diet is a personal choice. It’s not necessarily better on the environment, nor is it necessarily more ethical. It can be, of course, but there are also ways to be an ethical omnivore and arguments in favour of regenerative agriculture as a solution to environmental woes.
SO! If you want to go vegan, I’m happy to support you with that 100% but please don’t feel pressured to or feel like you have to be vegan to be healthy and if you do choose a vegan diet ensure that your diet is balanced and properly supplemented. And if down the road, this way of eating no longer serves you, as it happened with me, please listen to your body and do what’s right for you.
No matter what you choose to eat, enjoy it and do what makes you feel good. Because guess what, you’re a grown up and you can do whatever the heck you want. And no matter what you choose, I am here to support you so shout out if you need a hand. Judgement-free, always.
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