Veganism is one of the most controversial diets and lifestyles among the health-conscious. Lest you get sucked right into the emotive aspect of the debate that also involves the morality and ethics behind killing animals for human consumption – we suggest taking a huge step back and looking at veganism from as objective a view-point as possible.
First up, veganism is a way of life that consists of a diet made up ONLY of plant and plant-based foods, and a lifestyle that avoids the use of products related to animals. This means that you eliminate all animal meat and foods with animal origins from your diet as well as items that are by-products of animals from your lifestyle. This group of items is surprisingly vast, and includes foods like eggs, dairy, honey and gelatin, and items like leather, silk, fur, wool, and any cosmetics and soaps that contain ingredients with animal origins.
People who choose to go vegan do so for many reasons other than for their health — the main reasons are often moral or to save the environment. We have come up with a handy guide outlining health pros and cons of going vegan so you can make a decision with eyes wide open. Cheryl W advocates a healthy lifestyle inside out, and if going vegan is the way you want to improve your health and take better care of your body — go for it! If you feel that veganism is not your cup of tea, you can consider some other meal plan like the Paleo diet that we blogged about earlier this month , or just rely on plenty of exercise, a balanced diet of fresh foods, and our Cheryl W treatments to bolster your efforts for a healthier, happier you!
Pros of going vegan
1) Decreases the risks of some diseases like certain kinds of cancer, diabetes and even premature death
Red meat and dairy is often blamed for a host of health issues, such as some types of cancer, bad cholesterol levels and heart problems. So because vegans don’t eat red meat or dairy, their risks for related diseases are significantly reduced. Added to the fact that they eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which in itself reduces risks of cancer, diabetes and cholesterol levels — vegans do their bodies a great service by the simple fact that they eat a whole lot more fruits and vegetables.
2) Vegans tend to be slimmer, have leaner bodies, lower BMIs, and consequently, are less likely to suffer from weight-related problems
So for those of you who are researching veganism primarily for weight loss reasons — this should make you smile! The reason for vegans being naturally leaner and slimmer is that they have reduced saturated fats – which happens to be the main culprit for those stubborn love handles – from their diet by staying off meat and dairy. The increased quantity of fruits and vegetables that vegans eat also helps in weight loss since fruits and vegetables are often high in water content and fibre, which helps keep you fuller longer without piling on the pounds.
3) Vegans often have clearer skin and are more energetic
By eliminating meat and dairy from the diet and upping your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, you are effectively eating clean, real clean. It is no surprise then that your conscious choice to go vegan and lead such a clean lifestyle shows up as clear, beautiful skin. After all, we are what we eat!
As for vegans being more energetic than their meat-eating counterparts, there is plenty of anecdotal proof in that. Vegans attest to feeling more energetic and less sluggish because of the “cleanness” of the food they consume. Foods that usually make you feel lethargic or bloated such as processed meats and dairy are avoided, hence contributing to feeling more zesty, energised and raring to go! 🙂
Cons of going vegan
1) Vegans may suffer from some form of mineral or nutrient deficiencies if they are not informed about nutrition
It is quite well-studied that vegans tend to lack certain vitamins that are frequently found in meat and dairy. Some of the common deficiencies among vegans are vitamins B12, A and D, calcium, iron, zinc, and long-chain fatty acids such as EPA and DHA. Making sure you don’t lack these vitamins and essential nutrients from your diet will take a lot of work and you need to go out of your way to eat foods that are a source of these or take a supplement. For example, vitamin B12 is commonly found in eggs and dairy, so vegans have to ensure they get this essential vitamin by eating soy or cereal fortified with the vitamin, sunflower margerine, or by taking a supplement.
2) The mental stresses of adhering to such a stringent lifestyle may not be worth going vegan for
Even if you think you have steeled yourself to take the plunge to going meatless, dairy-free and egg-free, going vegan is a huge change that may cause serious psychological problems such as depression, panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is mentally stressful to adhere to such a strict diet, and doing so may trigger a mental breakdown. Furthermore, going meatless may also cause your blood sugar and hormones to see-saw, leaving you prone to mood swings and irritability.
If you are keen to try going vegan but are daunted by the prospect of the sheer magnitude of your decision, one tip we have for you would be to take your veganism in baby steps. Start by allowing yourself to eat some meat, dairy and eggs for only one meal a day, then slowly progressing to once every two days then once a week. Or perhaps allow yourself meat on the weekends or on certain weekdays – whatever works best for you. The bottomline is to not stress yourself out about going totally vegan and enjoy the decision!
Remember that diet is only one facet of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so do make time to exercise, relax and sleep well too. Cheryl W treatments and teas are a great complement to your holistic wellness goals, so do make the time to pamper yourself with a rejuvenating Cheryl W Flush massage or treatment while you pursue an all-over healthy lifestyle!