Posted on 13 February, 2017

Is a Vegan Diet Good or Bad?

By Jacob Andreae in Health, Nutrition, Lifestyle Is a Vegan Diet Good or Bad?

A weekly supply of organic fruits and vegetables from our local produce store.

It’s cheaper. It saves animals from suffering. And it’s better for the environment. These are all reasons you hear for going vegan. But is it actually healthier for you?

I like to refer to a vegan diet as a vegan lifestyle. Being vegan isn’t just about the way you eat, it’s about the lifestyle you live, as well as your beliefs, values and attitudes. Vegans don’t just follow vegan principals to eat healthy, they live the lifestyle. A lifestyle in favour of animals, the environment and the planet.

I’ve tried following a vegetarian ‘diet’ before but I’ve never gone full vegan, although I do appreciate the reasons behind why one would follow this lifestyle. The definition of a vegetarian is someone who does not eat meat or fish. They do however, still eat eggs and dairy products. A vegan on the other hand doesn't eat any product derived from an animal. This includes eggs, all dairy products, gelatin and honey.

I found it really hard to feel full on a vegetarian diet. Meat and fish are good sources of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. In addition to providing an important source of energy and nutrients, these all contribute to making you feel fuller for longer. That’s not to say that a vegan diet can’t make you feel full. Foods such as beans, nuts, legumes and seeds are good sources for that.

Is a Vegan Diet Good or Bad?

Good
Eating meat can lead to a range of diseases and health complications. This is often associated with animals raised in non-organic conditions. When animals aren’t fed a natural diet, raised in natural conditions, they can become sick. Eating a sick animal can make you sick. Choosing organic animal products is a healthier alternative.

Bad
It’s more difficult to consume enough protein, iron and other nutrients on a vegan diet. As you’re limited to a plant-based diet, you must look beyond the commonly recognised foods such as meat, poultry and fish to achieve your required daily intake of protein and iron. Kidney beans, green lentils, chickpeas, spinach, almonds and broccoli are all good sources of protein and iron, suitable for a vegan.

Good
Probably the most common reason for adopting a vegan lifestyle is to avoid the exploitation of animals. Controversial documentaries show animals being kept in appalling conditions, raised for the sole purpose of serving humans for consumption. Choosing animal products from organic farms is a more compassionate alternative.

Bad
There is a lot of recent scientific evidence in support of consuming animal products — from organic eggs to grass-fed beef. While there are lots of studies showing how a vegan lifestyle is beneficial — from improving the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis to improving the cardiovascular risk factors for individuals with type 2 diabetes; choosing to eliminate animal products all together is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly.

Good
You become what you eat. Therefore, just as the first point in favour of adopting a vegan lifestyle eludes to, eating animal products from animals fed a poor nutritional diet and raised in poor conditions, can make you sick. The cells of that animal are the building blocks of the new cells within you, influencing a whole range of biological processes. Organic animal products can help to ensure what you put into your body is what you want your body to become.

Bad
What works for one, doesn’t necessarily work for another. Just because someone you know or heard of adopted a vegan lifestyle, and it saved them from cancer or alleviated their chronic pain, doesn’t mean it will work for you. That’s not to say try it, but everyone is different. There are many lifestyle and genetic factors that influence what goes on in your body throughout your life. Try a range of food and associated lifestyles, paying attention to what comes out of your body in the minutes, hours and days after you eat it. Pay particular attention to burping, urination, flatulence and defecation.

Good
Cattle emit methane, which is a greenhouse gas that eats away at the ozone layer, leading to increasing temperatures around the globe. This is the result of microbes in the stomach of cattle used to create energy. Less meat consumption has generally been considered better for the environment on the premise that there would be less cattle bred world-wide. The simple solution though is better quality feed and grazing techniques. This minimises nutrient excretion.

Bad
Humans have been eating animals for tens of thousands of years. Yes, our diet then consisted primarily of plants, nuts, seeds and berries, and the meat was freshly killed, not manufactured in any way and was healthy during it’s time of life, but you can still get meat like that. Go fishing or hunting yourself if you really want to. But if that’s not your thing, there are plenty of suppliers who supply organic meat, raised, fed and treated humanely in life.

A vegan lifestyle is fine and in many respects is more healthy than any other lifestyle. It presents some big challenges such as how to source enough protein, especially if you are very active. People however, prove that it is possible to not only survive on a vegan lifestyle but to thrive.

What have been your experiences with adopting a vegan lifestyle? 

About Jacob Andreae

About Jacob Andreae

I write and speak about Fitness, Nutrition and Mindset. 

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Is a Vegan Diet Good or Bad?A quick start guide to losing weight and staying on track. Learn the strategies I use to eat and move for optimal health. Includes worksheets to enhance your motivation, commitment and discipline, along with a sample eating plan and exercise program.