I met some new friends who have just turned into a vegan for health reasons. So I researched a bit about the pros and cons of vegan diet.
Not many research has been done on vegans. A few studies show that vegans and vegetarians have lower levels of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis, and some cancers, compared with those who consume low levels of the plant foods. In addition, the use of spices such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onions to flavor food protects the consumer against cancer, stroke and heart disease.
However, vegans may suffer from deficiency in B12, which is very important for the brain. “Vitamin B12 deficiency can have serious consequences such as early dementia, lack of coordination, forgetfulness, nerve dysfunction, memory loss, disorientation, difficulty with concentration, and difficulty with one’s balance when walking. Hence, they need to take supplements or fortified soy or rice beverages.”
Vegans may also suffer from Omega-3 fatty acids. “Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are important for cardiovascular health as well as brain and eye function. The fatty acids can be obtained from fish. The vegetarian can now obtain the omega-3 fatty acid DHA from microalgae supplements. In addition, the body can convert alpha-linolenic acid to the long chain fatty omega-3 fatty acid DHA, although this is a fairly inefficient process. Alpha-linolenic acid can be obtained from a variety of vegetable sources, including flax seed, canola oil, walnuts, tofu, soy beverages, and soy products.”
If vegans can select their plant-based food carefully, they don’t need to eat meat to maintain good health.