Why Opt for a Vegan Diet? Explore its Different Types, Benefits, and More

Why Choose A Vegan Diet? Know its Various Types, Benefits and More

Why Choose A Vegan Diet? Know its Various Types, Benefits and More

Are you someone who eagerly anticipates indulging in your favorite chicken wings or savoring a mouthwatering chicken burger from a fast food joint after a long week? While weekends may temporarily satisfy your cravings or online deliveries might alleviate the monotony of vegetables, relying too heavily on meat can lead to short-term health issues and long-term environmental concerns. It’s worth noting that the trend of meat-eating is predominant in Western and many developed societies, where people enjoy exploring diverse culinary options and frequenting restaurants that offer a wide array of meat dishes.

However, amidst shifting dietary preferences, an increasing number of individuals are embracing veganism. But veganism isn’t merely about consuming vegetarian food. Read on to discover expert perspectives on veganism and the guiding principles of a vegan diet:

What is Veganism

Veganism is often regarded as a contemporary iteration of vegetarianism, characterized by abstaining from the consumption of animals and animal-derived products. The term “vegan” is believed to have originated in 1944, when a small faction of vegetarians split from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England to form the Vegan Society. Within this group, members made a collective decision to refrain from consuming meat, poultry, dairy products, and milk. Over time, veganism has diversified into various types, with individuals adhering to these practices being classified as vegans. The types of veganism include:

  • Dietary Vegans:** These individuals abstain from consuming meat, dairy products, eggs, and other animal-derived substances in their diet. They are often referred to as dietary vegans or vegetarians.
  • Ethical Vegans:** Ethical vegans extend their avoidance of animal-based products beyond dietary choices. They refrain from using animal-derived items in various aspects of life, guided by principles that oppose animal cruelty and seek to minimize harm to fauna.
  • Environmental Vegans:** Environmental vegans prioritize building a sustainable environment by reducing reliance on animals for food and other purposes. Their lifestyle choices aim to minimize the environmental impact of activities such as water and land usage, as well as industrial farming methods.
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  • Whole-food Vegans:** This category of vegans consumes a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dietary fibers. They focus on consuming minimally processed, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Junk-food Vegans:** Junk-food vegans heavily rely on processed and convenience vegan foods, such as vegan meats, fries, non-dairy ice cream, and frozen desserts. Their diet may include a significant amount of processed vegan alternatives to traditional animal-based products.
  • Raw-food Vegans:** Raw-food vegans predominantly consume raw foods or foods cooked at temperatures below 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius). They believe that raw foods retain more nutrients and enzymes compared to cooked foods.

What Are the Reasons Behind People Choosing Veganism

Several factors drive individuals to embrace veganism, leading them to eschew animal products.

Ethical Considerations: Ethical vegans feel morally obligated to refrain from consuming meat and utilizing animals for commercial purposes. They uphold the belief that all beings deserve the right to life and freedom, rejecting the notion of sacrificing animals solely for consumption, clothing, or other purposes. Instead, they advocate for alternatives that don’t involve animal exploitation.

Health Benefits: Many opt for veganism due to its potential health advantages. Research indicates that plant-based diets can positively impact health by reducing the risk of various ailments such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and premature death. By cutting back on animal products, individuals can also mitigate the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and certain cancers, as these products often contain high levels of saturated fats. Transitioning to plant-based alternatives can help lower blood cholesterol levels and promote overall well-being, as evidenced by studies linking plant-centric diets to reduced cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality.

Environmental Concerns: The environmental impact of animal agriculture serves as another compelling reason for choosing veganism. Raising livestock consumes vast resources including water, land, energy, and food. This practice significantly contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, with agriculture and livestock accounting for a considerable portion. Furthermore, the water requirements for animal farming, including drinking water for cattle and irrigation for crops, further strain global water resources. By adopting a vegan lifestyle, individuals aim to reduce their environmental footprint and mitigate the adverse effects of modern agricultural practices.


What Drives the Transition Towards a Vegan Lifestyle? Health Benefits of Veganism

The global shift towards veganism is fueled by an increasing awareness of its benefits and cultural significance. Vegan diets are recognized for their ability to provide all essential nutrients required by the average person, drawing attention to major health advantages and reducing reliance on animal fats, a significant contributor to chronic diseases.

Improved Heart Function: Balanced vegan diets consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fibers are linked to reduced risks of heart disease. Comparative studies between vegans, vegetarians, and the general population highlight a significant reduction in high blood pressure among vegans, up to 75%. Additionally, vegans have up to a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. Vegan diets also excel in controlling blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol compared to conventional diets.

Reduced Cancer Risk: Approximately one-third of all cancers can be prevented through dietary patterns and self-control measures, according to the World Health Organization. Consuming legumes may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 9-18%, while daily intake of fresh fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of cancer-related mortality by up to 15%. Vegan diets, rich in legumes, fruits, and vegetables, are associated with a 15% lower risk of developing cancer. Moreover, soy products in vegan diets provide effective protection against breast cancer.

Weight Management: Vegan-based diets are increasingly popular among those aiming for weight loss. Observational studies show that vegans typically have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) and are thinner compared to non-vegans. The high dietary fiber content in vegan diets aids in bowel movement, preventing constipation, improving digestion, and increasing metabolic rate. Even on a fully satiating diet, vegans tend to lose more weight than those on calorie-restricted diets.

Blood Sugar Regulation and Kidney Health: Vegan diets are linked to lower blood sugar levels, better insulin management, and a 50-78% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Studies by the American Diabetes Association reveal that vegan diets can lower blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. By substituting plant protein for meat, diabetics can reduce the risk of poor kidney function. Additionally, vegan diets have been shown to provide significant relief from symptoms of systemic distal polyneuropathy, such as shooting and burning pain, in diabetic patients.


How to Strategize a Plant-Based Eating Pla

Discussing the benefits of embracing a vegan diet and providing a set of guidelines for planning this dietary shift, Shakti, Dietician/Director at Goodways Fitness, shares insights with Onlymyhealth, stating, “Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, vegan diets are gaining traction due to concerns about potential viral transmission through food consumption. Vegan diets incorporate essential herbs that detoxify the body and enhance immunity. A balanced combination of pulses, fresh fruits, vegetables, soybeans, and nuts effectively fulfills the body’s protein requirements.”

When outlining a general dietary plan for vegans, Shakti emphasizes, “An ideal vegan diet should include a variety of green vegetables, spinach, etc., known for their calcium and phosphorus content. For individuals on the go or aiming for weight loss, dishes like idly, uttapam, or plain dosa can be convenient options. Typically, a vegan meal comprises a bowl of rice with added vegetables or plain chapattis.”

To prevent deficiencies that may arise from the absence of certain nutrients in a vegan diet, such as calcium, Omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and iodine, it’s crucial to incorporate calcium-rich plant-based foods and sources of these essential nutrients into one’s meals meticulously. Thus, careful meal planning is essential to ensure optimal health while following a vegan lifestyle.