Veganism, is it worth it?


A variety of vegan food -CC0 Creative Commons

Connor Mallis, Reporter

Vegan diets are becoming ever more popular and widespread throughout the western culture. With the trend correlating with a wealthy and healthy lifestyle.

Veganism is a diet where the consumer consumes no meat or animal-derived related ingredients. This is what separates a vegan from a vegetarian.

A typical vegan diet consists of fruit, vegetables, nuts, cereal and tofu (which is made from soybeans).

When starting a vegan diet the participants have described a euphoric feeling. This might be due to not consuming processed sugar and highly saturated fatty food.

There has been no scientific data that has shown humans to be strict vegetarians by choice in the past. Chris Kresser said in a podcast with Joe Rogan that humans are primarily omnivores and we gather whatever nutrients were available to us at that time.

It is only in recent history that strict vegan and vegetarian diets have become increasingly popular. People have become vegans due to ethics and for health benefits.

Vegan Australia reported last year on a global survey that found that 6% of US consumers described themselves as vegan, compared with 1% in 2014, and that 38% of people worldwide ate meat (including fish and poultry) less than once a week.

Looking at vegetarianism in Australian, a Roy Morgan study found that the proportion of Australian adults whose diet is almost or all vegetarian rose from 9.7% in 2012 to 11.2% in 2016.

Jayden Smith has been vegan for a year and a half. He became a vegan as it was introduced to him by his friends and he said he immediately felt the benefits of the diet, “I wanted to just generally be more healthy and eat better”.

According to the American Dietic Association, “Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases”. This is not just restricted to certain minute groups of people, it goes for all cycles of life from pregnant women to elite athletes. However, if poor management of the diet does occur it can have some health risks.

A study done by Tim Key found Vegan diets were “Rich in carbohydrates, n−6 fatty acids, dietary fibre, carotenoids, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E and Mg, and relatively low in protein, saturated fat, long-chain n−3 fatty acids, retinol, vitamin B12 and Zn”.

Dr Tim Key’s study highlighted that some vegans may have relatively low vitamin B12 which helps with the production of red blood cells and our make up of DNA.

Another study conducted by Neal Bannard found that vegan diets “offer significant benefits for diabetes management”. The study found that participants that followed the vegetarian/vegan diet were almost half as likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes than the individuals who followed a non-vegetarian diet. “In clinical trials in individuals with type 2 diabetes, low‐fat vegan diets improve glycemic control to a greater extent than conventional diabetes diets”.

The lack of animal fat in a vegan diet also has an impact on health benefits, with studies showing that the consumption animal fat can lead to diseases such as cancer, dementia, Alzheimers, erectile dysfunction and kidney failure.

So it seems that vegan diets can contribute healthy lifestyle, if done correctly.