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World Vegan Day: What happens to your body when you switch to a vegan diet?

Have you recently switched to a vegan diet? Scroll down to know the advantages and disadvantages of following a vegan diet.
things you must know before turning vegan
Pros and cons of eating a vegan diet. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Kanikka Malhotra Updated: 23 Oct 2023, 11:40 am IST
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Vegans eat a plant-based diet and avoid all animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, and honey. Many people also avoid purchasing animal-derived products (for example, leather and reptile skin). Veganism, in general, opposes any form of animal exploitation, including the use of animals for entertainment and product testing. Ingredients derived from animals such as gelatin, albumin, casein, carmine, and pepsin can be found in marshmallows, gummy candies, chewing gum, and so on. Hence, reading food labels carefully when shopping becomes important.

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to being vegan. Adopting a vegan lifestyle necessitates careful planning and awareness of what you put in your body.

Switching to an all-plant diet, for example, may help you lose weight and improve your gut health, but it may also put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Here’s everything that can happen to your body, both good and bad, if you go vegan.

Vegan diet
What are the pros and cons of eating a vegan diet. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Pros of a vegan diet

Here are the advantages of following a vegan diet:

1. You get more fibre

This is one of the most noticeable dietary changes you will observe. Meats are devoid of fibre. Plants, on the other hand, are high in this nutrient, so eating less meat and more quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, and edamame increases your fibre intake significantly. Dietary fibre is essential for heart and gut health, as well as blood sugar and weight management.

2. Reduces risk of heart diseases

When we eat more plant-based foods and fewer animal products, it lowers the risk of stroke, heart attack and other heart-related conditions. This is because plant-based eaters consume more fruits and vegetables, fibre and polyunsaturated fats while consuming less saturated fat, all of which are dietary factors that support heart health.

3. Great for weight loss

Eliminating meat, dairy, and other animal products can help you lose weight and lower your cholesterol because they contain more fat and calories than plant-based foods. Vegans have a lower body mass index and blood pressure.

vegan diet benefits
Benefits of a vegan diet. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Cons of a vegan diet

Here are the disadvantages of following a vegan diet:

1. You might feel low on energy

A vegan diet is deficient in iodine and choline. Iodine is required for thyroid health, which regulates energy, metabolism, and mood. Choline helps your brain by influencing your memory and mood. However, vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes can provide choline, and iodine can be obtained from fortified (iodized) table salt. Still, supplementation for these nutrients may be beneficial. Plant-based foods are low in calories, a vegan diet can cause fatigue if you don’t eat enough to maintain your mental and physical energy levels.

2. You might become bloated

Fibre resists digestion when we eat it. We cannot digest fibre and must instead rely on the gut microbiota in our Gastro Intestinal tract to do so. It eventually makes its way to the colon, where it ferments, releasing short-chain fatty acids and gases. This causes bloating. Everyone is affected differently. Drink plenty of water and slowly increase your fibre intake.

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vegan diet benefits
What are the disadvantages of vegan diet. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

3. May face vitamin and mineral deficiencies

Veganism can cause anaemia, hormone disruptions, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and depression due to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids. That is why it is critical to consume a variety of proteins, vitamins B12 and D, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Veganism can cause anaemia, hormone disruptions, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and depression due to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids. Fortified cereals, plant milk, tofu, and nutritional yeast contain some of these nutrients. Iron and calcium are found in legumes and dark, leafy vegetables, while tofu contains protein, calcium, and zinc. Finally, walnuts, canola oil, soy products, and ground flaxseed contain omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and ALA.

Veganism entails more than just abstaining from animal products. After weighing the advantages and cons of a vegan diet, make sure to follow up with regular dietitian visits and blood tests.

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About the Author

Kanikka Malhotra is a Delhi-based consultant dietician with more than 14 years of experience, working extensively with individuals dealing with obesity, diabetes, thyroid, and PCOD. In addition, she has worked with some leading corporate hospitals and healthcare brands, supporting their patients by providing them with nutritional counseling. ...Read More

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