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Vegan Pros and Cons, Debunking the Myths!

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vegan pros and cons, vegan benefits and disadvantages, vegan diet pros and cons, arguments for veganism, arguments against veganism

It’s always wise to check everything involved in a lifestyle decision (pros & cons) when you’re considering it for the long haul.

Vegan pros and cons can be discussed in terms of its impact on animals, health, or the environment.

While discussing all the pros and debunking some of the perceived cons, we hope this post will enlighten and help you make an informed decision.

Animals


The Pros

Animal Rights and Liberty

This is straightforward and is the most compelling reason for many to become vegan and to have an unwavering will to remain one.

By going vegan you reduce demand for meat & stop supporting the ruthless factory farming industry.

Animals are sentient (capacity to experience life) beings that have emotions, social relationships and intelligence. Scientific studies show that animals can experience joy, pleasure, stress, pain, fear,  affection and show many more complex emotional behaviors.

In the U.S. approximately 29 million cattle, 2.2 million sheep & lambs, 115 million pigs, 1.5 million goats, and 9 billion birds are killed for food every year. If you imagine & consider the annual headcount of cattle killed in USA as a human headcount, it’s like killing everyone in Australia in a year or causing four holocausts.

You cannot even include the numbers for fishing as it is measured in tonnes! According to one estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either completely exploited or depleted.

All the above stats will only make any sense if food animals are considered living beings instead of commodities.

Apparently, if you follow a vegan diet for one year you’ll be saving 100-200 animals annually (vary on individual consumption and includes beef, pork, chicken, fish, other seafood, etc.)!

Perceived Cons

Animal Over Population

A question asked by some non-vegans is “what happens to the billions of farm animals if everyone goes vegan?” Let’s answer the question with humane options since killing the animals is out of the equation. Because humans are the ones who left room for such a question to be raised.

First of all, we should understand that the world’s billions of chickens, cattle, pigs, geese, goats, lambs, sheep, ducks and turkeys are an artificial creation by our own kind. Though by no means it is kind. Production of such large numbers is the result of a system driven by gluttony, profits, and speciesism.

It is pity that these animals have been forcefully bred generation after generation bringing them into a world in which they don’t find any regard to its sentience, rights, and life.

Remember, all these animals that mankind subject to dreadful injustice were once living in the wild freely. Therefore, it is our responsibility to intervene and end the misery for animals that we on our own started.

Having a plan for an efficient and effective program will certainly help these animals to be reintroduced to their natural habitats. This should be done gradually & humanely with a lot of thought & care for the animals. Once we do our part to rectify the terrible misdeed humans created, we can allow mother nature to take its course.

What we are about to discuss next has much relevance to the pros and cons of vegan diet.


The Pros

Healthy Weight

We can’t talk about healthy weight without considering the BMI (body mass index).

BMI is the way to measure your body fat based on your height and weight. In general, a BMI range of 18.5–24.9 is considered a healthy weight.

Since vegan diets are low in fat consumption people who follow these diets have found it much easier to shed those fatty pounds more easily.

I can vouch for that with my own experience as I have been able to stay within the healthy BMI range throughout my vegan life (my current BMI stands at 22.31). Though healthy body weight is not the sole factor determining your overall health it is still an indicator not to be overlooked.

Low Heart Decease & Stroke Risk

Our body stores excess calories (energy) in the form of fat, which could result in more cholesterol. Too much of cholesterol can lead to strokes and heart attacks.

To put this into context, approximately 1 ounce of steak will give 77 calories whereas 1 ounce of vegetables would give you only 18 calories. Besides this, we can also get excessive cholesterol directly from animal products.

Therefore, it is much easier for vegans to control their cholesterol levels, compared to omnivores (people who eat both animal and plant-based food). Since our body naturally produces all the cholesterol it needs, it is sensible to have some control over the additional cholesterol intake from food sources.

Control Diabetics

According to studies, those who adhere to a vegan diet can maintain, control or reduce blood sugar levels quite efficiently.

For those who already have diabetes, this could mean making your body more responsive to insulin, taking less medication and keeping your complications related to blood sugar under control.

Low Cancer Risk

Numerous studies have suggested that eating a diet abundant in vegetables and fruits not only will reduce your exposure to cancer but equip you with cancer-fighting properties to lower the chances of developing cancer.

Especially processed meat such as sausages, deli meats, ham, salami, bacon and hot dogs have been linked with a higher risk of colon cancer. Red meat such as beef, lamb, and pork too could pose a cancer risk if consumed excessively.

Healthy Digestion

A well-planned vegan diet can lead to healthy digestion due to its fiber. Though meat has no fiber, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are rich in fiber. Especially insoluble fiber is known to create smoother bowel movement and helps those who have difficulties with constipation and irregular bowel movements.

Fiber also makes you feel fuller. If you feel fuller you don’t eat more than you require and that helps to keep a healthy weight which in turn keeps digestion in good health. This is especially beneficial for those who have digestive issues such as acid reflux. You can also keep bloating under control when meat is avoided.

Healthy Skin, Hair & Youthful Aging

We all love to look and feel young and no two thoughts about it. But this is not about a magic pill that gives you the fountain of youth, rather a realistic lifestyle which truly prolongs your aging process.

  • Fruits and vegetables are plentiful when it comes to essential vitamins and antioxidants. These are much-needed building blocks for glowing skin.
  • Since vegetables and fruits are fiber-rich it could help you to get those skin damaging toxins out of the system.
  • Opting for low-fat vegan diets will help you reduce those pore-clogging saturated fats which are found to be higher in animal-based foods.
  • Healthy unsaturated fat found in avocado, olive oil and fatty acids found in almonds, walnuts are a great source to keep skin hydrated and supple. These healthy fats will also give greater growth & strength for hair & nails as well.
  • With all the above benefits, a vegan diet would ideally give a lot of anti-aging properties to fight free radicals which are vital to look and feel younger.

Better Sleep

Sleep apnea which is caused by interrupted breathing during sleep is said to affect 1 in 15 Americans and about 100 million worldwide.

Three causes of sleep apnea are being overweight, having a large neck size and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD). Hence, eating fatty foods and gaining weight could cause you to have more wake-ups during sleep. One may think eating fatty foods make them sleepier, but in the long term, it could interfere with their deep sleep causing insomnia.

Solution? Go for a vegan diet that helps you to keep your weight under control. Another point to consider is, as vegans generally pay more attention to their diet and health, their “feel good” state too may help them to have a better sleep quality.

Live Longer

Besides all the above vegan benefits, this is something many vegans look forward to. You don’t have to wait until some special pill is found, a new breakthrough in science or some hi-tech costly discovery to lengthen your lifespan. Studies have shown, people who follow a plant-based diet already experiencing it.

One study done on vegetarians showed that men extended their longevity by 7 years and women by 4 years approximately. In another study, a vegetarian diet showed a 12% reduction in causes for mortality.

Did you know a vegan diet can even support athletes and bodybuilders? If interested read our posts on guides for athletes and bodybuilders.

Perceived Cons

Vitamin B12

If vegans are not conscious about a balanced diet, they may not get vitamin B12 adequately. It plays an important role in cell formation and nerve function.

Vitamin B12 is derived mainly from animal food sources. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians get vitamin B12 from eggs and dairy products.

Vegans don’t have to worry about it, as they can get this vitamin from fortified foods (plant milk, certain breakfast cereals, marmite, etc.) and supplements. Check the labels to see whether vitamin B12 is included and for quantity.

Protein

This is another misconception that vegans are not getting enough protein. Protein is a major nutrient which is needed for cell functioning, tissues, bodily chemicals, and bones.

It’s abundantly available in a typical vegan diet that includes vegetables (soybeans, beans, broccoli, corn, lentils, etc.), nuts (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, etc.) and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, flaxseed, etc.).

Calcium

Some may think vegans don’t get an adequate amount of calcium since they avoid dairy products, but nothing could be further from the truth. Calcium is a vital mineral for bones, teeth, blood vessels, nerve signaling, blood clotting, hormones, and for contraction of muscles.

Vegans get calcium from vegetables like bok choy, collards, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, cabbage, fortified foods, nuts, seeds, and oranges.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

These heart-healthy fats play a vital function in reducing heart disease, high blood pressure, boosting brain function, and easing joint ache. Fatty fish is a primary source for omega-3s.

So what does this mean for vegans? They can still get plenty of it from sources such as flax seeds, flax seed oil, chia seeds, camelina oil, hemp seed, canola oil, and walnuts.

Lack of Variety in The Diet (Seriously?)

Some may think being a vegan means eating the same types of vegetables every day and following a boring diet. This is actually a misconception and a vegan diet is only limited by your own imagination.

Do these vegan food look boring to you? I bet not.

Vegan Diet

In reality, vegans have a great variety of foods to choose from and a lot of substitutes/options to select when it comes to meat, milk, cheese, eggschocolate and even ice creams!

They also keep on discovering new recipes to make their journey exciting. In fact, when they start enjoying and experiencing the variety of vegan food, they wish they became vegans much earlier.

Having a Meal Outside

This may look awkward for the vegan newbie, but with a bit of common sense & preparation eating out as a vegan could be a walk in the park.

To overcome this occasional inconvenience, you can simply check nearby vegan restaurants via online maps or check restaurant menus online in advance. For a start, Indian, Mediterranean, Mexican & Oriental Restaurants tend to have many vegan options.

You can also request the restaurant to replace meat with these tasty vegan meat substitutes like tofu, mushrooms, jackfruit or eggplants.

A few related posts to having a meal outside as a vegan,

  • Vegan Eating Out Guide
  • Best Vegan Restaurants
  • Pizza Hut Vegan Menu Options
  • Starbucks Vegan Menu Options

  • Humanity, Environment, and Personal Pros & Cons


    The Pros

    Alleviation of World Hunger

    Based on current demand-supply trends the growing world population could face a food crisis in the coming century. It takes more resources to produce a pound of meat than to produce a pound of beans. More soil, water, energy and other resources required for the meat industry than the crop industry meant for humans.

    A higher number of people die from hunger than the total deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), and malaria.

    If these resources spent on humans instead of farm animals, more food would be available for the 795 million people (approx.) in hunger worldwide.

    Mitigate Environmental Impact

    Vegan Pros & Cons, Benefits & Disadvantages for the Environment, Environmental Pollution

    Let’s look at some stats,

    • Grazing has caused an issue for 171 endangered species.
    • About 102,000km2 of rainforest from 1996-2006, was destroyed and 80% of it made as grazing land for livestock.
    • Land used as pasture and crops to feed farm animals causes the highest amount of deforestation and has made it quite difficult to restore for other types of farming for human consumption.
    • To produce one pound of beef it takes approximately 1,800 gallons of water compared to 700 gallons to make a pound of lentils and 299 gallons to make a pound of rice.
    • According to one study, farm animals create more greenhouse gasses than the transportation sector. These greenhouse gasses consists of intestinal gas, decomposition of animal excrement, and carbon dioxide released via deforestation to create grazing lands for livestock and animal feed crop.

    In light of the above, refraining from meat consumption and adhering to a vegan diet would certainly help in reducing the environmental impact & restoring the natural habitat.

    Financial Benefits

    Transitioning from an omnivore diet to a vegan diet could be budget friendly as well. The cost of protein per gram of beef, milk & eggs is much higher compared to a gram of vegan options like oats, beans, lentils & chickpeas.

    This shows you don’t have to be rich to go vegan. All it takes is an inexpensive, well-planned diet to be a healthy vegan.

    Did I mention the hospital bills you’ll be saving from health benefits a vegan diet provides? Apart from that, there are many other economic benefits and cost savings from reduced environmental damage and a healthy population.

    Positive Outlook

    Irrespective of the motive to become a vegan, consciously or subconsciously, vegans know that they are making contributions towards good causes.

    Not only these lifestyles would lead to a brighter future for our own species, but it accommodates a world of coexistence for all sentient beings and natural habitat.

    Anyone becoming a vegan would know it is not a simple decision by any means. It takes deeper & broader thinking, values, commitment, and self-belief to make such transitions.

    All these powerful qualities, forces and fulfillment enable them to have a positive outlook on life and future in general.

    Perceived Cons

    Insufficient Crop Production

    Some may question whether the world can sustain a global population going completely vegan. According to one estimate, an agricultural land of 10 acres can sustain 60 people by cultivating soybeans, 24 people with wheat or 10 people with corn, but with cattle, only 2 people can be supported.

    Furthermore, out of all land used for agriculture, 70% majority is occupied by livestock farms. If there is no demand for livestock these lands can be converted into crop production.

    As you can see, there is enough land to sustain a vegan population worldwide.

    Personal & Social Awkwardness

    How my non-vegan family will react to my change? Am I to tell my friends that I am a vegan when I visit them for a meal? Am I to accept non-vegan gifts? How can I explain my stance? Will I hurt them? Do they know what “vegan” means in the first place?

    These are all valid and relevant questions that you could ask in certain junctures of your vegan journey. The way you can react to these occasions may depend on the way you reflect upon the reasons, why you became a vegan.

    Question is, do these challenges outweigh the benefits and values you believe & standby? The way you face and overcome these challenges may determine how you’re going to stay vegan for the rest of your life.

    As far as family matters are concerned, you will be the best to know about your family more than anyone else. Sometimes sincerely explaining your ethics and showing the benefits backed by evidence may just do the job for you. You may not only get their approval but they may even adore your honesty and maturity. Who knows, with your good example and logical reasoning they may even consider adopting a vegan lifestyle.

    Always remember being a vegan is about doing your best and not trying for perfection!

    You can also use certain occasions as an opportunity to spread the vegan message, promoting compassion and a healthy lifestyle. Be smart and do this at the right moments. Being proactive, patient, rational and having common sense could help you face challenging moments and have control.

    Pinterest Pin: Vegan Pros and Cons

    Conclusion


    We learned about vegan benefits and perceived disadvantages. We also got to know how the arguments against veganism can be dealt with the right mindset.

    Some of you may have sought the advantages and disadvantages of veganism for personal reasons, but we presume with this post, you have understood the broader spectrum and the gravity of your decision to all parties and the other aspects concerned.

    In a nutshell, you learned the impact of veganism with regard to animals, yourself (body & mind), environment, and the planet at large. We hope this post gave you enough food for thought on vegan pros and cons to make an informed decision for yourself and other sentient beings.

    Related Posts:

    References

    [1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494284/
    [2] http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do
    [3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4073139/
    [4] http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/foods-for-cancer-prevention

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8 thoughts on “Vegan Pros and Cons, Debunking the Myths!

  1. I enjoyed reading this post and it got me thinking about my own diet and food choices. So I compliment you on that. I for one prior to reading your article “thought that being a vegan means eating the same types of vegetables every day and following a boring diet”. Good job and well done!

    1. Thanks Peter for your compliments & leaving your thoughts. Glad I had the privilege of giving a different perspective that vegan cuisine by no means boring if one is creative & enjoy experimenting.

  2. Hello and thanks for sharing, vegan benefits and disadvantages. This is a great diet to have because as you pointed out all of the health benefits. Your post is well detailed and you explain everything. Your readers will love what you are offering and will surely learn a lot from your post.

    1. Hey Norman, thanks for leaving your compliments & thoughts. Yes you’re correct that it may seem to have disadvantages. But that is the case with many things in life, isn’t it? Even if you’re following an omnivore diet (the diet followed by majority), I can easily point out many disadvantages it has and would have more cons than a vegan diet.

      One should also note that many of the advantages of a vegan diet drastically outweigh the disadvantages. Another point to note is that, the disadvantages I’ve mentioned here would truly become disadvantages due to misconceptions or being negligent. I’ve already debunked some of the misconceptions and shown how to avoid negligence and follow a properly planned balanced vegan diet by seeking the correct vegan food sources in this article.

  3. Hi Dishan, very well written, detailed article. I checked out your about me page also, and Spiderman is my favorite superhero! You make some great arguments about how being a vegan is a good way to develop a healthy lifestyle. The benefits far outweigh any perceived negatives. I am impressed with anyone who can maintain this type of lifestyle. I don’t think I could ever be a vegan. It just seems too much of a commitment. The best I can do is incorporate as much fruit and vegetables in my diet as possible and cut down on the meat. You make a great point about animal consumption. I have a dog and a cat, and I could never ever think of them as food. They have personalities and are loving. So I understand that part of it. I see cows and chickens and how they are treated, and it bothers me to see it, as it does to other people. But when it comes to a steak or hamburger, or a piece of chicken, somehow I don’t think of it. You are wonderful to be able to be a vegan! Great article!

    1. Hi Eric, thanks for leaving a generous comment! As I always try to emphasize, one should never think of being the perfect vegan. Of course having an innocent pride about yourself being a vegan, is no harm. But trying to score 10 out of 10 all the time or as Ruby rightly pointed out, getting a label is NOT the idea here.

      In fact, I didn’t start out as a vegan and it took me some time to become a vegetarian and then a vegan. At the end of the day, what matters is how we feel about ourselves and keep evolving. I cheer everyone who makes a contribution whether it’s big or small. Every little contribution makes a difference and has a far-reaching impact.

  4. This is a very informative and comprehensive article. I am a vegan, sort of, but not by choice. I grew up in a meat-eating culture and love it in most forms. However, I also inherited major digestive issues. And now I have to be mainly vegan in order to stay alive. Not exaggeration! However, in the process of trying to live, I have learned quite a bit about the benefits of veganism for ourselves, other creatures, and the planet. It has made me want to stay this way no matter how much I heal. However, I am not into labels or guilt trips for other people. I don’t think it is helpful. Just creates division. But I agree with your points. They are well laid out, too!

    1. Hey Ruby, Thanks for your compliments & honest opinion! Life throws different moments, challenges and new experiences for us to halt and reflect upon. The way we think and react would mould us to be who we are. I also couldn’t agree more on labels and pointing fingers. This shouldn’t be about those and the two most important elements in our effort for change should be EDUCATION & EXAMPLE which have all the power.

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