A vegan diet can help to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers, but some experts are worried about the health implications.
They point to studies showing that vegans may be more likely to develop obesity and diabetes than omnivores.
Vegan diets have been linked to increased risk of certain cancers and birth defects.
In the U.S., more than half of the population is vegan, and research shows that a vegan diet lowers the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other types of cancer.
Vegan nutrition and lifestyle choices can also help reduce the risk for a range of diseases, such as high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, and heart disease.
“There is not much debate about the link between vegetarian and vegan diets,” says Dr. Jodi Stokes, the director of the Center for the Science of the Human Body at Emory University.
“Vegans tend to have a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids, and they tend to be a more health-conscious population, which is good.”
While most studies show that vegans are healthier than omnics, the health impacts of the diet differ greatly.
“Vegan diets are good for health, but the meat is very unhealthy and the dairy is harmful,” says Stokes.
“We need to look at both the meat and the diet in order to figure out which one is the healthier option.”
Stokes recommends that veggers avoid all meat, dairy, and eggs.
Vegans also should avoid processed meats, and limit their use of red meat, poultry, and seafood.
Vegan advocates also say that the health benefits of a vegetarian diet are not as well established as those of omnivorous people.
While vegans tend to eat less red meat and more vegetables, they also eat a higher percentage of fruits and vegetables.
“They’re also more likely than omnivas to be vitamin and mineral deficient,” says Marni Hurd, director of public health at the nonprofit, non-profit, and vegan group Animal Equality.
While some studies have linked vegetarian diets to lower rates of certain diseases, those studies also do not consider the effects of different foods and diets.
“The health effects of a vegan lifestyle are more uncertain than omniva diets,” she says.
Stokes says that the studies that have looked at the effects in people with certain diseases are inconsistent.
She says that a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine showed that vegetarians had a higher risk of prostate cancer and higher risks of colorectal cancer, but she says that those results may not apply to people who have colon cancer.
“If you’re a vegetarian, you have a better chance of dying of cancer, even though the cancer is not cancerous,” she notes.
“So I think there are some people who are very healthy on the vegan diet, but if you’re one of those people, you should be cautious.”
Vegetarian diet vs. veganism in general Many vegans who choose to live on a vegan path also tend to avoid dairy, egg, and some other animal products.
“I think the vegan movement has been around for a long time, but I don’t think it’s really evolved to the point where people can have a full and honest conversation about veganism and how they can live healthy lives,” says Stephanie Dutta, an associate professor of dietetics at the University of California, Davis.
“For people who want to be health conscious, and feel good about their bodies, it’s not that important to switch to a vegan approach.
But it’s important to understand that if you want to live healthy, a lot of the things you eat can affect your health.”
Vegans can eat a lot less meat, eggs, and dairy.
“When you’re in a vegan community, you’re also going to have people who eat meat,” Dutte says.
“Some of the people who choose veganism tend to consume meat a lot more than others, so if you don’t want to get caught in the meat-eating trap, you can eat less meat and eggs.”
Vegetarians also have a lot fewer health issues.
“A lot of vegans eat more fruits and veggies, and there are people who don’t,” Detta says.
While veganism is becoming more popular, the diet is still considered a fringe option.
“Even the people that are most strongly against veganism are going to eat a little bit more of meat, which makes sense, since people who ate more meat before became vegetarians,” she adds.
“But I think the general population is still going to follow a plant-based diet, and that is probably the best way to go.”
Veggans also tend not to drink alcohol, which can increase your risk for alcohol abuse and liver disease.
Vegan diets can also be restrictive and limiting.
“It’s difficult for vegans to consume a lot, because the vegans will