Vegan diets exclude all animal products. Veganism has rapidly increased in popularity, although randomized trials are still few in number. Trials do show promise for a variety of outcomes, from weight loss to autoimmunity, although comparisons to other popular diets are rare. A vegan diet should be balanced and low in processed foods (e.g. a "Whole Food Plant-Based diet") for optimal results.
Vegan Diet is most often used for
A vegan diet has only one rule: no animal products.
This takes the vegetarian diet one step further by also removing eggs, dairy, and honey from your plate.
A person who follows a vegan diet is known as a vegan — a term first coined by Watson and Morgan in 1944.
But veganism can be more than just a diet: The Vegan Society defines veganism as “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
That said, it’s important to mention that the most popular motive for becoming vegan is not health, but animal welfare. Click here to read more about why vegans are motivated to avoid animal products.
Even though eating a large variety and amount of plant foods is healthy, a vegan diet per se is not necessarily healthy — but it certainly can be. But what makes a vegan diet healthy?
As discussed in the previous question, a healthy vegan diet is based on whole foods and ideally includes a variety of food sources to ensure all critical nutrient needs are met. Appropriate supplementation can also help. If this is the case, a vegan diet is not only healthy, but may even have some advantages over a standard omnivorous diet.
First, a vegan diet can be more satiating than a regular omnivorous diet. This is because vegans eat more fiber-rich, low-calorie plant foods while avoiding nutrient-dense, processed animal products. Consequently, vegans often consume fewer calories than people eating a regular diet.
Second, a vegan diet may lower the risk of certain lifestyle diseases. For instance, a plant-based diet is linked to lower incidence and mortality from ischemic heart disease (-25%) and incidence from total cancer (-8%), according to a comprehensive meta-analysis of 86 cross-sectional and 10 prospective cohort studies.
To find out more about how a vegan diet could reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases, click here.
Overall, a vegan diet — if it is well designed — can be considered healthy. However, it’s unclear if a vegan diet is healthier than an omnivorous diet, assuming both diets are well designed. In the context of the current body of literature, claims that imply the superiority of a vegan diet over an omnivorous diet lack any scientific basis.
There are two main drawbacks to a vegan diet. First, a vegan diet can be restrictive and inflexible, making it more effortful to adhere to for some people — though not for everyone — than an omnivorous healthy diet. Second, a vegan diet, if it is not well designed, can result in nutrient deficiencies, thus causing undesired health outcomes.
The art of adopting and sustaining a vegan diet boils down to two aspects: transitioning to a new lifestyle and getting enough critical nutrients, some of which may be sparse in a purely plant-based diet.
- Plant-Based Diet