August 15, 2019
August 6, 2019 by Dr. Kyle Varner in Ketogenic Diet
How do you spot a vegan?
You don’t. They’ll tell you within five minutes of talking to them…
For some reason, veganism is a really controversial subject. Keto doesn’t even come close–veganism provokes intense feelings all around.
Whether it be ardent animal rights activists or die-hard gun-toting carnivores, everyone has a strong opinion on the matter.
Look, if you care intensely about animals or the environment, and are dead set on the idea of veganism, that’s your prerogative.
That’s a decision based on values, and nutrition isn’t going to sway you.
But for the average person, is veganism a good idea?
Well, sort of…
You see, veganism solves a lot of the health problems we in the US of A suffer.
It cuts out all the nasty processed animal products that inflame our guts and contribute towards cancer.
But it’s something of a double-edged sword. It can cause other health problems too.
So what’s the takeaway? Read on to find out.
The Benefits of Veganism
If there’s one thing that all dieticians agree on, it’s that vegetables are good for you. Our parents drummed it into our heads as children, and it’s true.
On a vegan diet, it’s all plant-based, so you’re going to get all the fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, folate, yada, yada.
These vitamins and minerals are essential for health and wellbeing. And you can’t just pop some supplement pills to get the benefits…
Think how few vegetables the average person consumes.
They’re full of nasty processed meats and carbohydrates that make them sick, and they can’t stand the idea of a salad.
In fact, around 75 percent of us Americans simply do not get enough fruits and vegetables in our diets to be considered healthy.
And that’s partly why we suffer from so much diabetes, cancer and heart disease. People who are vegan suffer from these diseases far less than omnivores.
And let’s be honest, there aren’t many overweight vegans either…
The Hazards of Veganism
Other than personal taste, veganism isn’t the ‘cure-all’ diet that so many militant plant eaters claim it to be.
There are plenty of health risks, and the good aspects of it are simply because it rules out certain foods which can be problematic.
In other words, you don’t necessarily have to go vegan to get the benefits, you simply have to be smart.
Let’s start with the basics. Vegans have a serious risk of vitamin B-12 deficiency. This is because it’s only found in animal products.
So you’ll need to take a supplement if you’re vegan, but then again many would object as they often source these vitamins from animals.
Some people laugh at how vegans are ‘weak and skinny,’ and that without animals, you can’t get enough protein.
This is half true. Vegans can get plenty of protein from plants like peas, nuts and legumes–but they have to pay close attention to their diet in order to do so.
There’s also a risk of vitamin D deficiency. The problem is that you find vitamin D in very niche foods, like maitake and portobello mushrooms when they’re exposed to UV light or fortified nut milk.
A vegan diet is also deficient in two omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Your body needs these for a healthy heart, eyes and brain function.
No wonder stories have come out that being vegan can actually make heart disease worse.
So what’s the solution?
Is Veganism Good or Bad?
Here’s the skinny: The label doesn’t matter.
The key thing about food to understand is you just have to be smart. A vegan who eats whole grains and dark greens is going to be healthier than a vegan who eats white bread and sweets.
They’re both vegan, but they have different outcomes.
In the same way, people who are low-carb but just eat steaks all day aren’t going to be very healthy.
People point to the health benefits of veganism, but if you just ate healthily and reduced your salt, bad fats, processed carbs and sugar intake, there would be no need to restrict your diet in this way.
This is why I’m such a big fan of the keto diet.
It’s medium protein, so you won’t gorge on all those cancer-causing processed meats, and it’s low-carb, so you won’t get all of that nasty inflammation and heart disease.
And you also won’t suffer all the nutritional deficiencies that vegans can suffer from. It’s a win-win!
Vegans can and do avoid all the nasty diet problems a lot of Americans suffer. But there’s no need to be vegan to do this. Simply by eating right or going keto, you can get the same effect, as long as you make a conscious choice to do it in a healthy way.
Potato chips are vegan–but they’re not healthy. A diet of meat and cheese is keto–but it’s not healthy.
There’s so much more to establishing a healthy diet than just picking a label and applying it. You have to pay close attention to the entire composition of your diet.
With a vegan diet, that’s doable, but it requires significant effort. It is much easier with keto.
Ultimately, you have to make your own decision based on your values, preference and individual circumstances.
Are you or have you ever been a vegan? Did your health improve or suffer? Let us know in the comments below.