Who knew that a diet could be so trendy? But the vegan lifestyle is taking over the younger, city populations by storm and is surging in popularity. Vegan restaurants and supermarkets are popping up all over United States cities like Los Angeles and New York; however, is this diet actually healthy? Essentially, vegans are vegetarians whom choose to not consume or use any animal products or byproducts. Completely cutting out these products on moral grounds may come at a severe health cost.
Veganism follows a strict set of regulations in order to cut out any animal products entirely. Basically, that leaves plants and plants only. Our bodies require specific vitamins and minerals to function properly and those vitamins cannot be found in the ground. For example, the body needs the fat soluble vitamins of A and D. According to popular belief, carrots provide the body with ample amounts of Vitamin A. This is not the case. Carrots contain carotene, which is simply a precursor of Vitamin A- not the raw vitamin itself. In order to compensate for the real vitamin that can be found in abundance in meat and egg yolks, a person would have to eat a great deal of carrots. Vitamin D3 and K2 facilitate the absorption of calcium into the bones and are found solely in dairy and meat products.
Usually, a vegan diet involves a high amount of soy consumption. Soy is the most versatile plant and can be used to substitute most dairy products. Unfortunately, soy contains an extremely high amount of phytoestrogen, which is a chemical that mimics the effects of estrogen in the body. Consistent high estrogen levels cause the hormonal pH of the body to become unbalanced, which can lead to health defects in the future.
Many studies have been conducted recently to observe the health benefits of veganism. According to Authority Nutrition, there are no studies that have given sufficient evidence that this diet is any more beneficial than other diet options. A randomized control trial was conducted and participants were assigned to follow either an Atkins diet, which consists of low carb and high fat products, or an Ornish diet, which is a type of veganism, over an allocated time period. The results showed that the Atkins dieters lost an average of 10.4 pounds while the Ornish dieters lost only 5.6. The Atkins group also saw sufficient decrease in blood pressure levels and triglycerides in the blood stream. The Ornish group showed little to no changes in these health departments and reported feeling sluggish and fatigued.
Conversely, there are observational studies that advocate for the optimal health decision of going vegan. The Seventh Day Adventists organization reported findings that vegans and vegetarians actually have a lower mortality rate than those who choose to consume animal products. Scientists like M. Thorogood prove this to only be correlational because a study done with over 10, 000 participants showed no difference in mortality of healthy vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
The health benefits associated with veganism may in fact be correlational instead of casual because those who embark on a vegan lifestyle tend to be younger and more health conscious than the average Joe. These third variables may skew the data and cause some of the benefits to be exaggerated. Moral grounds aside, there is no real reason to avoid natural animal products. Humans have been eating meat for hundreds of thousands of years. Our bodies have evolved using this form of nutrients. Veganism is very trendy and up and coming; however, the health benefits are definitely lacking.