By: Liv Miller
What does it mean to be vegan? Veganism is the diet or lifestyle that excludes the use of animal products. Some people who define themselves as a vegan go the extra mile to not just use animal products in their diet, but in their everyday lives as well. This can include not wearing leather clothing, or not using lotion or cosmetic products that have animal products, or were tested on animals.
The most common type of vegan though is the kind that only excludes animal products from their diet.
Many people do go vegan for the purpose of animals, but there are others who incorporate veganism into their diet solely for the purpose of their own health. Now, there is no right or wrong way to go vegan, but how exactly does being vegan affect your health?
According to a 2019 article in ‘The Economist’, 25% of 25-to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians. So, it must be doing something right, right?
While going vegan does have a lot of health benefits, it is still important to look at the possible harms of the diet before deciding to incorporate it into your lifestyle. But let’s talk about the benefits first.
According to Insider.com, a vegan diet cultivates different types of bacteria than an animal-based diet. So, the bacteria from a vegan diet is shown to help lower inflammation in the stomach and boost metabolism. This relates to the common ideology around the vegan diet, and losing weight. While it doesn’t happen every time, it is a very common thing that can occur from partaking in this diet.
Another benefit is that going vegan can reduce your risk of getting some deadly cancers like stomach, liver, and kidney cancer. This is because processed meat has been closely linked to these types of cancers.
Going vegan may also cause you to see an improvement in your sleep and skin.
Now to talk about the possible risks.
You may feel tired and foggy when first beginning your diet. According to Insider.com again, a vegan diet tends to lack iodine and choline, since the two necessary nutrients are found in eggs. Iodine is needed to keep your thyroid healthy, regulating energy, metabolism, and mood. Choline supports your brain, affecting your memory and mood.
Another very common risk that many people are aware of is that going vegan lowers your protein intake. Protein is a very essential nutrient for our bodies and acts as a fuel for us. Protein is usually found in eggs, meat, etc., so basically everything that a vegan diet lacks.
Another health risk you should be aware of before switching to a vegan diet is the heightened risk of depression. According to Timesofindia.indiatimes.com “People following a vegan diet are at an increased risk of depression as their diets have a sharp decline in omega 3 fatty acids (no fish oil or fish consumption) and a rise in omega 6 (vegetable oils and nuts). They can include algae-based omega 3 sources in their diet, but they are costly and hard to find.”
Although there are many benefits and risks to going vegan, it is safe to say that the pros outweigh the cons. If you are planning on going vegan, I would recommend doing your own research and talking to your doctor about what the best course of action is right for your body.