Is A Vegan Diet Healthy?

As a nutritionist, I get asked “Is the vegan diet healthy?” all the time. Unfortunately there is no simple Yes or No answer I can just give you. It depends on what you eat, as it does with any other diet out there. If you were to only eat fried potato chips on a daily basis, you would ‘technically’ be following a vegan diet, but it would no way be a healthy.

Someone living purely on ready salted crisps or chips, for example, would be technically following a vegan diet, but it would in no way be healthy. On the other hand, if you were to eat just apples all day, every day, yes apples can be really good for us, but again, only eating fruit would not be a healthy diet.

Eating a healthy began diet that is balanced, does have its benefits. A vegan diet is a diet without any meat or dairy products. With less, or no meat and dairy products, you are likely to consume a lot less saturated fat, which of course has massive health benefits; too much saturated fat is related to increased levels of cholesterol and an increased risk of heart disease. Low fat foods have less calories per gram, compared to other macronutrients, so a vegan diet may result in a lower calorie diet too. A well-balanced vegan generally includes a range of grains and cereals, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

However, a healthy vegan diet is not as simple as just cutting out meat and dairy products, because when such a major food group is removed from the diet, of course it is important to note that further diet supplements will be needed! It is quite common for those on a vegan diet, who do not supplement and support their diets appropriately, to be more susceptible to being nutritionally deficient in some essential micronutrients. Meatless and dairy free diets are naturally low in: calcium zinc vitamin b omega 3 fatty acids vitamin D & iron
To have a healthy vegan diet, it is essential to get these nutrients from other sources; specific vegan food sources. Additional supplements may be needed. If you have decided to have a vegan diet, education and proper supplementation of the diet is essential. Remember, just because a food may be considered ‘vegan’, does not necessarily mean its healthy, I mean, sugar, by rights of the definition, is vegan. Is it healthy? No! So just because a food fits the criteria of being vegan, remember it does not relate straight away into healthy!

I think a vegan diet can have its benefits. I believe as a nation, we meat is very accesbile as probably consume too much of it. Meat and protein should not be the most prominent part of our diet, in fact, less than 15% of our diets should be made up of protein.

Remember this, if you do decide to follow a vegan diet, make sure you speak to a qualified health care professional to make sure it is suitable for your individual needs. Apply all the same principles that you would normally do, when following any other diet. The key to a healthy diet is to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lots of seeds and nuts, and limit your intake of high sugary and fatty foods.

Disclaimer: Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss. Consult with your health care processional before beginning any diet or exercise regime.

Tammy Kacev
Nutrition Expert