Over the years eating habits of people around the world have changed tremendously and dramatically. Apart from family customs, social settings and personal preferences the diets of people are now influenced by a number of other factors such as environment, media, governments, trade, migration and the technologies used in the kitchen like microwave ovens, toasters and so on. And today there are many kinds of diets which a person can choose from, but of all diets a vegan diet is totally unique as it is not just a diet but more of a lifestyle choice and a personal philosophy.
A vegan diet is a lifestyle choice because a person who chooses to be a vegan avoids not only meat and fish, but all kinds of products that come from animals including milk, egg and honey for not only better health, but for ethical issues such as animal rights and for environmental issues. People who are vegan even avoid using leather, fur, silk, wool, soaps and so on products derived from animals. A person who is a true vegetarian it is easy for him or her to be vegan as Veganism is simply a subset of vegetarianism.
Veganism might be complex and difficult to practice for many, but it has a number of health benefits for people according to food science as it is high in dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, phytochemicals, magnesium and vitamin C and E. And many people have become vegan mainly for deriving health benefits. Some of the vegan health benefits are:
1) Illnesses and conditions: Eating animal fats and proteins increases risk various diseases and Therefore there is a lot lesser risk of developing cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases and so on other diseases in vegans.
2) Weight loss: A diet of vegan mainly includes whole grains, vegetables, legumes and fruits which contain no cholesterol and are very low in fat mainly saturated fats which helps in weight loss. It makes a person healthier with high fiber and other nutrient filled foods.
3) Increased life expectancy: According to studies people who eat red meat and proceeds meat have less life expectancy and can die prematurely more frequently than vegans and vegetarians.
4) PMS: Vegan diet is also known to decrease the intensity of PMS- pre-menopausal symptoms as well as menopausal symptoms.
5) Increased energy: Vegans reportedly feel less sluggish and weighed down after a meal. They have better endurance in exercise and sports are more pronounced as their diet does not include any animal products.
Vegan diet style has high nutritional and health advantages but just like any other diet vegan diet too has some health risks which every person must know to stay healthy the best way. Some of the health risks related to a vegan diet are:
1) Vitamin B12 deficiency: Vegans have a really high risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency as this vitamin is mostly found in meat and animal products. Lack of vitamin B12 a person can suffer from unusual fatigue, amenorrhea, and nausea and in extreme cases can suffer from severe irreversible brain damage.
2) Infants: Breast milk of vegan mothers has very low critical brain fat, DHA and other vitamins which can affect breast feeding their children. Infants can suffer from disorders such as anemia, weakness, hematological abnormalities and other disorders.
3) Intestinal discomfort: A Vegan diet has more foods within it and for new vegans this can cause intestinal discomfort.
4) Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies: A vegan diet has very low calcium which can result in future fractures. To remedy this deficiency a vegan diet should be balanced with more of spinach and soy products. And since vitamin D aids calcium to build strong bones it is important for vegans to receive enough sunlight.
5) Protein deficiency: Vegans have much higher risk of protein deficiency than vegetarians as they don’t eat cheese, eggs or drink milk. And vegan sources of protein are incomplete proteins.
Lastly, vegan diet can be very healthy for everyone if and only if it is balanced and well planned.
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f05/web2/shunt.html (B12- PARA 4)
Photo Credit: Obra Shalom