So, before I get started, please remember that the thoughts I present in this post are based on scientific research and my knowledge and study of nutrition. I have shared some of the resources I've used, but if you would like a full list, please check out my book. If you would like more information on veganism and vegetarianism, please check out A Dancer's Diary. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Today we will be talking about the downsides to these types of diets. And, yes, I will also touch briefly on the upsides because, believe it or not, there are short-term benefits.
Before we get into the subject, let's start off with first defining the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian.
1. A vegan is someone who abstains from eating any type of animal product.
2. A vegetarian is someone who abstains from meat but consumes eggs and dairy products.
Okay, now let's start off with the good. I usually like to start off with the bad news, but I'd like to change it up this time. I try to have an open mind about diets as a Health Specialist because it allows me to properly aid my clients in creating a dietary routine.
Veganism is difficult to stick to because you have to avoid any and all forms of animal by-product. This includes honey, cheese, butter, and eggs. However, eating a vegetable, fruit, and complex carbohydrate-rich diet for a short period of time is really beneficial for your digestion. These food groups contain so much soluble fiber, vitamins, minerals, and immune boosters. Having cooked vegetables for a meal with something like rice or barley gives your digestion a break from having to break down meats and dairy products.
Vegetarianism is a little easier to stick to because you are able to consume some animal products. Again, I stand by the fact that this type of diet is helpful for your body for a short period of time.
Why do I say that these are only good for a short time?
Because, meat is essential to a well balanced diet and products like soy, tend to contain harmful chemicals that can disturb hormones and other bodily functions. Let's get into the downsides...
Unless you are specifically purchasing organic soy products, you must assume that it contains pesticides/chemicals. Soy also contains high levels of omega-6, which is considered a "bad fat."
"The reason why these fats are so bad for you, is because they are usually refined and are high in omega-6 which is highly susceptible to oxidation. This makes them reactive and damaging to the body." - A Dancer's Diary
"Try and avoid soy products as they can lower your immune system response and damage your thymus (a gland where immune cells mature)." - A Dancer's Diary
If you have osteoporosis, that means that your bones are more susceptible to breakage. Because of this, eating vegan or vegetarian can make your condition worse. It is common for vegans and vegetarians to have iron deficiencies. Beef is a rich source of iron.
"When your body is low in iron, it is not able to make enough red blood cells making it less efficient to deliver oxygen to your organs and tissues." - A Dancer's Diary
Not enough protein-
Vegans say that they get enough protein with the soy, beans, and nuts that they eat, however, that is untrue. These foods do not contain enough protein to sustain a body for very long, especially if they are physically active. Aside from that, there is a high possibility that they could increase their chances for developing an allergy to them by eating them so frequently.
Vegetarians are a little better off because their diet contains eggs, cheese, butter, etc. These sources of protein are great for sustaining the body, but they are still lacking the essential vitamin B-12 which is important for the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system as well as the formation of blood. Supplements are not as effective as eating the vitamin at the source, which is why many vegans and vegetarians will be deficient in this particular vitamin.
The proteins that you consume each day supply your body with essential amino acids, which "are the building blocks of protein molecules. Your cells use these amino acids to synthesize new proteins as you need them." They build muscle tissue, build antibodies, and create red blood cells. Meat is the only food product that contains all nine essential amino acids you need to consume. Another really important reason to each meat products is because they contain vitamin B-12, which cannot be found in any plant-based foods.
Quote from: Healthy Eating
In conclusion, I understand that there are various reasons why people turn to a plant-based diet some of which include, digestive issues, health issues, and moral issues. However, the science behind it just doesn't add up. It is ultimately not a viable solution and can lead to other health issues in the future. Like I mentioned earlier, eating a plant-based diet short-term (a week or two) can be extremely beneficial, just not long-term.
It is important to have a well-balanced diet. A balance of meat products and vegetables is essential to well-rounded health.
I'd like to also mention that this topic will be turned into a short series, which I will continue throughout the month of December. If you have any suggestions on a topic, please feel free to share!
If you wish you do your own research, I have provided a whole list of my resources in the back of A Dancer's Diary. I am also willing to share some other resources as well if you are interested.
I hope you have a wonderful evening! Until next time,