Is Veganism Really Healthy?

On January 24, 2012 by Editor

Vegan version of a salad popular in Russia, wi...

Vegan salad

There are many aspects of our life that we can try and make more ecological. We can opt to cycle instead of drive, read eBooks instead of tree-killing paperbacks, buy organic baby clothes or even consider veganism, but is it really healthy?  There are growing numbers of vegans amongst us, many choosing this option due to the environmental benefits but are they doing more harm to their bodies than good?

A fully vegan diet consists of no animal products whatsoever, which obviously means no fish or meat but also excludes dairy products, eggs, refined sugar or gluten. This list is by no means exhaustive and there are plenty other foodstuffs which are off limits to the strict vegan. Vegans can be split into several categories including those who are ethically motivated, environmentally motivated and even those who follow veganism on a dietary basis. Whether or not any of these choices are a good idea is suspect.

Veganism – the healthy option

Those who are in support of a vegan diet will be very quick to explain all its benefits, mainly by highlighting the negatives of a regular balanced diet. Non-animal based diets are hailed as being high in fibre, full of nutrients, low fat and free of cholesterol. This argument also points out that the consumption of animal fats and proteins is actually linked to causing several severe health problems. These problems include obesity, myocardial infarction, hypertension, osteoporosis and diabetes as well as several kinds of cancer. Many dietary experts and specialists agree that following a vegan diet can reduce the risk of these conditions significantly.

This is one side of the argument, others believe that vegan diets may stave off these particular health problems but they are detrimental effects which can cause a completely different range of health problems. Even the most informed vegans who understand exactly what their bodies need are at risk of malnutrition according to certain critics, who highlight that there are nutrients found in animal-based products that can only be found in a small quantity in a handful of non-animal products. Critics believe it is near impossible to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs when opting to consume only vegan foods.

In fact, many vegans are reliant on supplements and fortified food products to ensure they get vitamins that the body relies on such as Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is essential to our diets and plays a key role in maintaining the function of our brain and nervous system and it occurs naturally in animal cells and moulds, not products which would be eaten by somebody on a vegan diet. In this instance, vegans are reliant upon pills or supplements which seems to counteract the aims of many, who are looking for a wholly natural, earth-sourced diet.

Veganism – the ethical argument

In addition to the health benefits championed by vegans, ethical and environmental concerns are often at the forefront of their decision to adopt a fully vegan lifestyle. Animal rights groups and vegan activists are vehement in their opposition to the mistreatment of animals being farmed and used for food. The horrors of the meat and poultry industries can be checked out online within a matter of minutes thanks to the work of animal rights activists and further evidence has been collated to show how animals who are used for their by-products including milk, eggs and honey, can also be found in unacceptable conditions. In all instances, vegans are concerned with the injury or death of animals for no reason other than providing our sustenance. Counter-arguments would suggest that it’s the way of the world and that, as the food chain dictates, killing to eat is a natural part of the world’s predetermined life cycle and there is no evidence to suggest the majority of these animals would live autonomously if they weren’t farmed.

Is there a happy medium?

Many people who are concerned with the environment and ecological issues have adopted a happy medium between consuming meat based meals and the vegan alternative. By adopting just one meat-free day a week, families are reducing their meat consumption by around 35 lbs per person per year which is considerable when considering every family doing the same. It’s a great way of protecting the environment, natural resources and doing something good for your health without going too far.

Veganism is a popular and historically based diet which has both its pros and cons. Becoming vegan is much more beneficial to our consciences than our bodies and therefore a happy medium might be a positive way of reaping changes.


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