Veganism is a lifestyle based on avoiding the use of animal products. Here are three facts about veganism.
1. It’s Not Just a Plant-based Diet
Gale Tobin points out veganism is not just a diet, but also a philosophy advocating the exclusion of all animal products being used in a person’s life. Veganism promotes animal and environmental advocacy and there are many vegan whole foods and processed foods available. By contrast, plant-based diets are more about living healthy lifestyles and avoiding processed foods. They don’t necessarily bar the practitioner from consuming or using animal products. Someone following a plant-based diet may still use animal products such as soap or leather. He or she may also eat foods such as lean meats and honey while avoiding most or all processed foods.
2. There Are Several Health Benefits
If you avoid eating too many processed vegan foodstuffs, veganism can be an incredibly healthy diet to follow. Veganism has been linked to lower rates of various cancers and heart disease. Many people turn to veganism as part of an effort to lose weight, improve their kidney function and lower their blood sugar. While vegan diets are deficient in some nutrients, they’re abundant in many others, including vitamin A, potassium, fiber, magnesium and antioxidants. Some studies also show a link between a vegan diet and less acute arthritis and autoimmune disorder symptoms, such as pain, inflammation and stiffness.
3. You May Need to Take Supplements
While veganism can be beneficial to your overall health, there are certain nutrients you may need to take as supplements. Veganism is a restrictive diet and many of the nutrients humans need are found most abundantly in meat and other animal products. The vitamin vegans are most likely to be deficient in is B-12, which is essential for healthy nerves and red blood cells and is mainly found in animal products. You should also consider supplementing vitamin D, iron, zinc, calcium, iodine and Omega-3 fatty acids. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take supplements or increase your consumption of foods such as beans, seaweed, nutritional yeast, nuts, tofu and dark leafy greens to boost your levels of these nutrients.
Compared to something like the Mediterranean diet, veganism is a relatively serious lifestyle change. If you’re interested in going vegan, you should talk to your doctor and start small by practicing Meatless Mondays and checking how you can cut animal products out of other aspects of your daily life.