Image by: Bruce Guenter
By Tallulah Ray
Vegan weight loss has been on the lips of a number of people for a little while now, but is it all worth the hype? Does becoming vegan really have all of the health benefits that it claims? Can you go on a vegan weight loss diet on a short term basis to lose weight and keep it off?
There has been a lot of research behind the health benefits of turning vegan. Even some our most influencial figures have been strict vegans: Ghandi, Bill Clinton, Russell Brand, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, and now Al Gore. So, let’s take a look at what people are saying these days.
#1) What Is The Difference Between Veganism and Vegetarianism?
There are different definitions to both but the things that all definitions have in common is that while a vegetarian diet is completely devoid of meat, they still consume some types of animal bi-products (like dairy).
However, a vegan diet (which isn’t really a diet at all; it’s a lifestyle change — we’ll talk about that later) is completely devoid of animal and animal bi-products which means that they are on a strict plant based diet: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and beans.
#2) Lifestyle Change
Becoming vegan doesn’t just mean that you stay away from eating animals, it also means that you stay away from using products which use materials made from animals (like leather). People who become vegan normally do so because of one of two reasons:
- They Are Animal Rights Activists.
They Believe In The Health Benefits.
While products like Oreos doesn’t have a layer of steak or bacon in it, you have to keep in mind that vegans also stay away from refined sugars & carbohydrates, processed vegetable oils, and trans fats. That means no potato chips, no gummy bears, and no panko fried things as well. Veganism, while controvercial, is also one of the healthier diets out there because of this.
#3) Vitamin And Nutritional Deficiencies
There are plenty of vitamins and minerals that we only get from animals (or their bi-products). Others are more prominent in animals, though they can be found in vegetables as well. Unfortunately, because of dietary reasons, vegans are more susceptible to vitamin deficiencies, including the following:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Vitamins A & D
#4) Short Term
There have been studies that have shown that going vegan for only a short period of time can improve your health. Of course, these studies were based on anecdotal evidence (that means that it goes on testimony alone).
#5) Scare Tactics
One of the things about veganism that is a turn-off to a lot of omnivores (and even some vegetarians) are the scare tactics that they use to make their point. While I believe that a lot of the things that animal processing plants are wrong and that animal abuse and “engineering” is equally as cruel, the way that a majority of vegan organizations go about spreading their propaganda can be frightening.
One of the biggest studies that backs up the theories (the health benefits, at least) of veganism is called The China Study. Unfortunately, that study has been debunked, mostly because of the way that the scientist who conducted this observational study (randomized controlled trails have always been more accurate in their findings), only reported the findings that proved his theory and neglected to report the observations that didn’t.
#6) We’ve Evolved To Become Omnivores
Some people have stuck to the statement that “We’ve evolved to become omnivores for a reason. We’ve been eating meat for millions of years.” They claim that our bodies have evolved to break down and utilize all of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that come from animal meats (and bi-products). While all of that appears to be true, there are benefits to being on a plant based diet as well.
Some people (like those who are more susceptible to anemia) will find the risks outweigh the benefits, a lot of people can balance the risks and benefits of becoming vegan.
#7) Losing Weight
In my opinion, most of the health benefits that come from turning vegan comes mostly from eliminating processed foods, refined carbs & sugars, and trans fats. Any diet that has you eliminate these products will cause you to lose weight fast (like the Atkins diet). You will also feel better and make healthier decisions.
There isn’t any evidence (in any scientifically significant and valid studies) that show that veganism is “better” than any other diet. While there are health benefits to veganism, those health benefits can also be found in other diets.
You also have to keep in mind that different diets work better for some people while disparate diets work better for others. There are many factors involved.
If you have an overwhelming drive to turn vegan, by all means, do so. But just be aware that you will run across some vitamin deficiencies; one of which is B12. If you’re interested in becoming vegan and want to know a little more about the lifestyle change and what it can mean for you, check out The Vegan Woman. It’s an online magazine that is geared strictly toward vegan women.