A vegan diet means that you’re only eating plant-based foods and not consuming any meat, animal products, or animal derivatives like dairy, honey or eggs.
People follow vegan diets for different reasons: some are ethical, some are health-related and some are environmental. If done correctly, the vegan diet can be very healthy and has been shown to have numerous health benefits including:
- Weight loss https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19279075/
- Better blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2671114/
- Improved heart health – one study showed vegans have a 75% less chance of developing high blood pressure: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24871675/
Dean Ornish, an American medical doctor, treats heart disease and has documented the changes he has seen in heart patients when following a plant-based diet.
Eating a plant-based diet where you consume a variety of different plant foods and colourful fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest ways to eat! There have been numerous documented studies of this. Plant foods feed our gut microbes and help keep our gut happy, which has a knock-on effect on the rest of the body. However, some people will go vegan and just eat pasta and white/brown coloured grains and the same foods daily. This is not a healthy way to be vegan. The benefits of following a vegan diet depend entirely on the way you approach food.
If you are going to follow a vegan diet, it is really important that you work with someone (GP, dietician, nutritional therapist, etc.) and make sure you are getting the nutrients that you need, as well as monitoring your blood. Vegan diets are low in nutrients that you will get from animal sources, so these need to be supplemented. Nutrients that need to be monitored include:
(Iodine, Calcium and Zinc should also be considered)
Whether you are vegan or not, we should all be consuming an abundance of plant foods daily to support our health.