College of DuPage Nursing Student Kurtis D. Ward wrote that the case has been made many times about the innumerable benefits of a vegan lifestyle and its effect on the environment. In addition, a vegan lifestyle benefits the well-being of animals, although the benefits of plant-based health are often underestimated. Despite the misconceptions about going vegan, the risk of chronic disease and obesity is decreased. All necessary nutrients are feasible from a vegan diet, so it is possible to stay healthy from eating a vegan diet.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA, 2020), a link exists between the intake of food products derived from animals and the risk of chronic disease. Diets high in meat lead to increased cholesterol and saturated fat consumption, which is directly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease; hypertension, atherosclerosis, and stroke (AHA). The benefits are not merely limited to preventing disease, however. Another study (Tuso et al., 2013) has linked a plant-based diet with a reduced number of medications required for chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer (Tuso et al., 2013).
The stereotype used to discourage veganism is often a lanky or malnourished individual compared with a bodybuilder. Many high-profile bodybuilders (Nimai Delgado, Julia Hubbard, Torre Washington) are vegan and have demonstrated it is possible to consume adequate protein and essential minerals from plants. A vegan diet is also more versatile than often realized, as advanced planning helps to obtain necessary nutrients as well as maintain a lifestyle consistent with meeting growth and developmental stages like pregnancy, infancy, childhood, and adolescence (Craig, American Dietetic Association, & Mangels, 2020).
Another barrier to adopting a vegan diet is the cost of food. The general cost of plant-based foods is often more expensive than less expensive animal products, in the long run, the benefit from a vegan diet is more cost-effective as the risk of chronic disease is decreased (Tuso et al., 2013). In addition, being vegan is easier today than it was just 10 years ago as inexpensive grocers (i.e., Aldi) offer numerous vegan alternatives at reasonable prices. Popular items with an omnivorous diet include vegan cheeses, plant-based meats, dairy-free kinds of milk, yogurts, and cream cheeses. There are also a growing number of vegan options at most local restaurants.
Therefore, going vegan isn’t an all-or-nothing lifestyle; the decision to go vegan may be difficult but the goal is to focus on overall health and to keep trying when it becomes difficult, with that end goal in mind. Even without the elimination of all animal products, reducing the amount of animal-derived foods will help to achieve health-related benefits in addition to benefitting the environment.
American Heart Association. (n.d.). How does Plant-Forward (Plant-Based) Eating Benefit your Health? Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-does-plant-forward-eating-benefit-your-health