• Remana Jamal

Should I Go Vegan?



What is a vegan diet?

It is a diet that consists mainly of plant foods only and does not contain eggs or milk products. It is called (pure vegetarian or vegan), but there are are types similar to the vegan diet that may include eggs and called (Ovo-vegetarian) or dairy products and is called (Lacto-vegetarian) or both eggs And milk (Lacto-ovo vegetarian) or eating all animal sources except for red meat is called (Pescatarian).

A balanced diet with moderate physical activity are essential components of a physiological approach to promoting health. Some health researchers recommend increasing the daily consumption of plant foods, reducing the consumption of foods of animal origin known to contain saturated fats, and reducing the intake of table salt (sodium).


Benefits of a vegan diet:

  1. A vegan diet contains more antioxidant vitamins (vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene), flavonoids, folic acid, fiber and other nutrients than those found in animal sources.

  2. Studies have also shown that vegans have lower risk of weight gain, have lower total cholesterol and blood glucose concentrations, and have lower blood pressure than non-vegans.

  3. It has also been shown that vegans tend to have good gut bacteria.

  4. Eating plant-based food can enhance the skin due to an increased intake of fruits and vegetables.

  5. Vegans are more physically active than meat eaters; Hence, they also benefit from the many positive effects of active lifestyles.

  6. Many of them stay away from smoking, which also contributes to improving their health.

  7. Epidemiological studies show that vegans often have lower morbidity and mortality rates compared to non-vegans.

  8. Plant-based diets have also succeeded in preventing coronary artery disease. The risk of lung, colon and rectal cancer , diabetes, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid diseases is lower among vegans.

  9. But so far there are no studies showing that a balanced vegan diet combined with a healthy lifestyle provides better protection against chronic diseases than a balanced mixed diet combined with a healthy lifestyle.


Vegan diet health risks:

  1. Vegans have lower bone mineral density (BMD) than non-vegans.

  2. Increased exposure of vegans to food-related residues of specific pesticides.

  3. Women and children are more likely to become malnourished from consuming an unfortified vegan diet than an adult male.

  4. Some studies indicate that vegetarians are more likely to be deficient in some nutrients including protein, calcium, iron and iodine, in addition to vitamin B12.

  5. The vegan diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies , fatigue, and anemia, as well as osteoporosis, and the occurrence of some problems in the thyroid gland.


Conclusion:


There are no studies that fully prove the benefits or risks of a vegan diet, but when going vegan, it is necessary to vary in eating vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and other protein sources, and make sure to choose unsaturated fats and reduce the intake of foods rich in fats and sugars such as chocolate and creams, so that you can get the most complete nutrition. It is also best to follow a (Lacto-ovo vegetarian) diet that includes eggs and milk products to get the most protein, calcium and other vitamins.













Sources:

https://www.moh.gov.sa/HealthAwareness/EducationalContent/Food-and-Nutrition/Pages/002.aspx

Dwyer, J. and Loew, F., 1994. Nutritional risks of vegan diets to women and children: Are they preventable?. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 7(1), pp.87-109.

Tong, T., Appleby, P., Perez-Cornago, A. and Key, T., 2020. Vegetarian diets and risks of total and site-specific fractures: results from the prospective EPIC-Oxford study. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 79(OCE2).

https://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/C03/E6-54-03-06.pdf

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