top of page

Are Vegan Diets Actually Healthy? An Honest Answer


Are vegan diets healthy?

Are vegan diets actually healthy? Not all vegan diets are healthy. Can they be healthy? Yes, they can be very healthy.

Who are Vegans?

I will overly simplify the complexities of being vegan to answer this question. If you feel that I could improve how I answer this question, please get in touch with me. I aim to explain, not to offend.

Vegans are people who choose not to consume animal products. Dietary vegans choose not to eat animal products.

There are many types of vegans. The three main reasons people choose to go vegan are for the animals, the environment, and their health. There is often overlap; not all healthy vegans always eat healthy foods *looks guilty*.

What Makes a Vegan Diet Unhealthy?


junk food vegan

Vegan diets can be unhealthy if vegans eat unhealthy food. Unhealthy foods can contain large amounts of sugar, salt, or fat. They are often processed.


Vegan diets can be unhealthy if the vegan, overeats, does not include enough plant-based food or their meals do not have enough diversity. A vegan can be unhealthy if they do not exercise.

Vegans are recommended to supplement B12. These B12 recommendations are also for non-vegans. This is due to changes in human lifestyles and how we raise and prepare our food.

Some vegans make healthier choices, while others choose junk food. Junk food vegans are okay with eating processed foods. There are degrees of ethics within this. For example, if a junk food vegan is an environmental vegan, they might eat junk food that has less packaging and does not contain palm oil.

Vegans are free to eat anything as long as it does not include animal products. Vegans can eat highly processed foods that often have salt, sugar, fat, and other additives/ chemicals. Potato chips are still on the menu.

What Makes a Vegan Diet Healthy?

Are vegan diets healthy? Healthy choices

A health-based vegan will probably be whole food plant-based. Plant-based lifestyles tend to be healthier. A plant-based diet has a focus on eating whole plant-based food. Plant-based diets are closer to nature than a standard vegan diet.

Some ideas on how to improve a vegan diet are listed below:

  • Eat whole food

  • Eat little to no processed food

  • Eat organic

  • Grow your food

  • Buy Local

  • Eat diversely to cover all your needs

  • Boost your fruit and veggie intake by having frozen on hand

  • Filter your water


Benefits of a Well-Planned Vegan Diet


A well-planned vegan diet can offer many health benefits. A well-balanced, plant-based whole food is effective in reducing chronic disease. Most notably the risk of heart disease and cardiovascular diseases.


An omnivorous diet that includes animal foods. Many of these products are high in saturated fat. A healthy vegan diet focuses on plant foods such as green vegetables, fresh fruit, and whole grains. These foods are low in saturated fat and high in dietary fibre.


Low saturated fat and fibre help lower blood pressure and improve cardiovascular health. Even vegetarian diets can reduce the risk of developing heart health issues when compared to diets high in animal-based foods.


Vegan Diet and Chronic Disease Prevention


Research has indicated that a vegan diet can lower the risk of some chronic diseases. The high fibre content and low-fat content of a vegan diet can help maintain healthy blood glucose levels. This could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.


The high fibre content and absence of animal products has other benefits. With the the focus on whole plant foods there is a lower risk of colorectal cancers and other types of cancer.


Why Vegans Should Eat More Plant-Based



Plant-Based Sources of Protein


One common concern about vegan diets is how to get enough sources of protein. Another concern is nutrients found in animal products. This is a misconception. There are many ways for vegans to achieve a healthy balanced diet.


Vegan protein sources such as beans and seitan. Complete vegan proteins that contain all essential amino acids include quinoa, tofu, tempeh, soybeans, buckwheat, amaranth, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and spirulina. There is no shortage of protein options on a vegan diet.


Practical Tips for a Balanced Vegan Diet and Nutrients in a Vegan Diet


Plant-based milks like almond and soy milk are often fortified. Many have B12, calcium and Vitamin D. This makes them alternatives to dairy products. Incorporating leafy greens and fortified foods into a vegan diet can help ensure adequate iron intake and prevent iron deficiency. Some may argue that this is a lot of planning, but this is the kind of thinking we should adopt for any diet.


Another concern about vegan diets is the potential for nutritional deficiencies and the impact on bone health. Dairy products are a common source of calcium but are not the cleanest or healthiest option.


Vegans can meet their calcium needs through fortified plant milks and green vegetables like broccoli and kale. Ensuring adequate consumption of these foods can help maintain bone mineral density and prevent health risks such as osteoporosis.


To ensure a nutritionally adequate vegan diet, focus on variety and balance. Including a mix of leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. You can get omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseeds, supplements and walnuts.


Fortified foods can supply Vitamin B12 and D. Nutritional yeast is a popular source of B12. It is much loved for its cheesy flavour. Eating rich in iron, like brown rice and spinach, and pairing them with Vitamin C-rich foods like oranges or orange juice, can improve iron absorption.



Some Popular Dietary Pedagogy

  • Eat a rainbow

  • G-Bombs - Dr Joel Fuhrman

  • Daily Dozen - nutritionfacts.org

  • The Starch Solution - Dr McDougall

  • SOS-free (salt, oil and sugar) - Dr Surrell

    • Minimise or ditch the salt

    • Cook without oil

    • Remove added sugars


Are Vegan Diets Actually Healthy?


There are many vegan foods out there that are not healthy. However, many simple vegan foods out there will nourish the body. The thing that makes a vegan diet unhealthy or healthy is the person making the food choices.


Not all vegans make healthy choices all the time. The aim is to improve a little bit at a time. Increase your whole plant-based food over time.


If you make a ‘poor’ choice, pick yourself back up at the next meal opportunity. Make healthy choices at a greater frequency and get healthful results. Eat your broccoli and be well.



Comments


bottom of page