The Pros and Cons of Veganism, According to a Dietitian – Yahoo Lifestyle

If the surplus ofvegan-friendly restaurants, dishes, and meal kits are any indication,veganism has gone mainstream. But dietary changes largeand small should never be taken lightly. Your body, brain, and lifestyle will undergo seismic shifts as you add and remove foods from your diet. It's always best to conduct your own research and consult a doctor or nutritionist before taking the leap.

We tappedTracy Lockwood Beckerman, a registered dietitian and the author ofThe Better Period Food Solution, about the pros and cons of veganism. Before we dive in, keep in mind that a vegan dietisn't for everyone. "People who have a history of disordered eating or a disordered relationship with food are not good candidates for a vegan diet," Beckerman said. "Also, those with food allergies or intolerances, or thosewho are low in nutrients like iron, B12, and zinc, should talk to their doctor before going vegan."

Below, start your research phase by reading up on the pros and cons of veganism, according to Beckerman.

1. Community. Roughly1.6 million adultsin the U.S. follow a vegan diet. "The social aspecteither online or in-personallows people to connectwith one another and share tips, meal ideas, and advice throughout their vegan journey," notes Beckerman.

2. Environment. Many people choose to adopt a vegan dietfor environmental reasons. "Because animal products generate more greenhouse gas emissions than plants, going vegan helps decrease the amount of these harmful substances in the atmosphere," she explains.

3. Water conservation."It takes a substantial amount of water to produce beef, as compared to grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables," explains Beckerman. "Animal agriculture is a more water-intensive process, so going vegantremendously reduces the amount of water used."

4. Health. Generally speaking, it can't hurt to increase your intake of plant-based proteins like beans, legumes, and tofu while reducing meat consumption. "Cutting back on red meat, in general, has been linked to a bevy of health benefits, like reduced risk of chronic disease, cancer, and cardiovascular illness," she notes.

1. Nutrient restriction. Like any diet, veganism restricts your intake of certain foods. This isn't ideal for someone with a food intolerance, as your nutritional profile may already be limited. Furthermore, someone with aniron or calcium deficiency may struggle to meet their nutritional needs without animal products. "Because veganism requires an all-or-nothing approach, I have hesitations about recommending it to clients," adds Beckerman.

2. Physical health. We currently lack convincing, long-term researchabout the health benefits of veganism. "Of course, it's better for the environment short- and long-term, but the short-term health benefits uncovered in recent research do not speak tothe diet's long-term effects," she explains. "For that reason,I wouldnt recommend following a vegan diet indefinitely."

3. Psychological health.As with any diet, you risk placing too much emphasis on appearance and not enough on health. "The healing benefits of a vegan lifestyle may not be applicable to all," says Beckerman. "Veganism or dieting, in general, can disconnect someone from the health benefits of eating and redirect their attention to body image."

4. Lack of education. "Without proper education and guidance, it may be difficult to get all of the wholesome nutrients found in a non-restrictive diet," she explains. "Because you're excluding the vitamins and minerals found in animal products, like zinc, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and vitamin D, its important to find equivalent plant-based sources elsewhere."

If you're still on the fence about adopting a vegan diet, you can always test the waters with a few substitutions. "Even if you dont want to follow a 100% vegan lifestyle, you can try more plant-based options and vow to go animal-free on certain days of the week," she suggests. "For example, you can eliminate red meat and supplementthat protein, zinc, and iron with plant-based products, like chickpea pasta or lentils.

Palouse Brand Pardina Lentils ($14)

Banza Chickpea Pasta ($22)

Nut Harvest Lightly Roasted Almonds ($20)

Healthworks White Quinoa ($20)

The Good Bean Organic Chickpeas With Sea Salt ($12)

Explore Cuisine Edamame Spaghetti ($25)

Viva Naturals Organic Chia Seeds ($11)

Next up: The Biggest Food Myths Nutritionists Want You to Forget

This article originally appeared on The Thirty

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