Approximately 3.3 percent of adults in the US claim to be a vegan or vegetarian. People become vegans for different reasons such as health concerns, religious beliefs, and distress over the killing of animals or use of hormones or antibiotics in livestock. Some people become vegans as they simply can’t afford to buy meat.
Whatever the reasons for being a vegan, the trend is growing in the US partly due to increased availability of fresh vegetable and fruit products and dining places that offer vegan-only food items. While there are many benefits of a vegan diet, there are also certain risks that you should know about the plant-based diet.
In this article, we will take a close look at both the health benefits and the risks of adopting a vegetarian diet.
Health Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet
Vegetarian diet offers great benefits to the individuals. Vegans are less likely to suffer from obesity as compared to people that eat meat-based diet. Studies have shown that vegans are at a lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases as compared to non-vegans. The unsaturated fats that are present in seeds, soybeans, avocados, olives, nuts, and other plant-based food items reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They are rich in fiber and contribute to an increase in the good cholesterol levels, also known as high-density lipoproteins (HDLs).
Apart from a lower risk of high blood pressure, Vegans also tend to have a lower risk of developing hypertension (low blood pressure) as compared to people that eat mostly meat. This is because the vegans are able to maintain a healthy body weight that helps them in maintaining healthy blood pressure.
Health Risks of a Vegetarian Diet
The foremost risk of a plant-based diet is that it increases the chance of developing health disorders due to lack of essential nutrients and vitamins. A number of vitamins and minerals including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and others can be obtained from eating animal-based food items. Lack of these essential nutrients increases the risk of various health disorders.
In addition, people can’t fulfill the daily calorie intake through a vegan diet alone. Trying to meet the daily calorie intake requirement through a vegetable or plant-based diet can lead to unpleasant health effects.
In the end, a vegan diet can offer various health benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and other serious health maladies. However, the major risk of a vegan diet is complications due to lack of essential nutrients. That is why it’s extremely important to consult with a dietician before adopting a vegan diet. The dietitian can recommend a healthy diet plan that consists of all the essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, the dietitian may also recommend intake of supplements for vitamins and nutrients that cannot be obtained from a plant-based diet.