Many people are attracted to the vegan diet because of morality. If someone believes that it is not ethical to eat animal byproducts, the vegan diet is the only option. Not only does the vegan diet remove meat, but it also eliminates eggs, dairy, and other animal byproducts.
But the vegan lifestyle is not just a great option for ethical reasons. Many studies are beginning to show that a vegan diet is healthier, as compared to other options.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?
A study from the University of Florence in Italy showed that vegan diets lead to lower rates of cancer and ischemic heart disease. Other research has indicated that vegan diets can help with gut health, lower stress levels and less uncomfortable symptoms for women during menopause.
The vegan lifestyle may also be one of the top options for weight loss. A study from 2015 done by the University of South Carolina showed that even if people did not follow their diet plan diligently, vegans were losing more weight as compared to non-vegans.
Good and Bad Vegan Diets
There are some principles that every vegan diet must adhere to. A vegan diet will not include foods such as chicken, beef, fish, cheese, milk, yogurt, and eggs. But there are so many types of foods that do not fall into those categories. It is why saying that a vegan diet is the healthiest option is not so simple.
While much of the research cited above shows that a vegan diet may be more healthy and a better weight loss option than non-vegan diets, there are still good or bad diets within veganism.
Study on Various Vegan Diets
A recent study published by the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is a very informative look at different types of vegan diets. The study was created to understand the relationship between a plant-based diet of different qualities and a person’s risk of developing coronary heart disease.
Every participant in the study started without any signs of chronic disease. They were monitored for close to 20 years, submitting information about their diet to the researchers every couple of years.
Their diet was split into three sections: an overall plant-based diet, a healthful plant-based diet, and an unhealthful plant-based diet. The overall diet simply emphasized eating plant-based foods instead of animal foods.
With the healthy diet, healthful plant foods were prioritized, while unhealthy plant-based foods were prioritized in the final section.
Healthful foods are items such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, vegetable oils and non-calorie beverages such as coffee and tea. And unhealthful diet includes a lot of juice, sweetened drinks, refined grains, potatoes, fried food, and sweets. If someone did consume an animal product within the time they were monitored, it was also included as an unhealthy food.
Importance of Healthy Vegan Foods
The study found that when someone ate more healthful plant-based foods, they had a lower chance of developing heart disease. Those who had the least healthy plant-based foods had a 32 percent greater chance of suffering from heart disease. A healthful plant-based diet also helped with lowering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Studies such as these show that while a vegan diet is healthier than a non-vegan diet, there are many different approaches to veganism. Someone who consumes a lot of fruit juice, sweetened coffees and teas, fried foods and refined grains is still a vegan. But they are not necessarily a healthy vegan.
Focusing on healthy, plant-based foods is the best approach when it comes to healthy veganism. Not only is that an ethical way to eat and live, but it also lowers risk for issues such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.