Veganuary is coming to a close and many may be left wondering if vegetarian or vegan diets truly are the healthiest way to go.
What is Veganuary you might ask? Well, it’s a whole month, specifically January, dedicated to eating a plant based diet, void of any animal products including fish.
I know a lot of people who followed this trend last month as well as people who are vegan full-time. But will these diets really help you be healthier overall? Perhaps to lose weight? Or help you live longer?
Firstly, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet for religious purposes or to live a more sustainable life, including animal rights, I’m not targeting you at all. I’m purely curious as to if these diets are more nutritional than others that involve animal products.
Diet trends are all the rage nowadays, including skinny tea or the keto diet. Along with that, vegan and vegetarian diets have exploded everywhere as well.
For those who don’t know the difference between vegetarian and vegan, there’s one main difference. Vegetarians consume animal byproducts such as yogurt, milk and cheese, while vegans avoid anything animal-related altogether.
Lately it seems like every restaurant or cafe you go to advertises some kind of vegan cuisine. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that some of these kinds of foods are actually higher in calories and sugar than non-vegan foods.
In theory, vegetarian diets can be healthier because it requires the individual to eat more plant foods which are full of nutrients.
The downside for vegetarians is that they are still open to eating cheese and other fattening animal byproducts, which in excess, is unhealthy. Of course, that can be said for any omnivore as well, but people tend to automatically label vegetarians and vegans as healthier which isn’t always the case.
Although vegans stay away from animal products altogether, there are still plenty of unhealthy food that they can reach for. Surprisingly, some of the more popular junk foods are actually vegan such as Doritos, unfrosted Pop Tarts and even Oreos. Therefore, these unhealthy snack foods are free reign for those on a plant-based diet.
Although many abiding by that lifestyle really do choose to stick to whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, and healthy grains, many think that as long as they stick to something that’s labeled as “vegan” they’re being healthy.
Sometimes those veggie burgers or Impossible burgers aren’t as nutritious as you think. They can still be full of grease or oil which can easily be high in calories and lack the nutritional value you may be seeking.
Hey I get it, though. Sometimes I actually prefer a veggie burger just to increase my vegetable intake for the day or I’m simply not craving meat. But I understand it doesn’t automatically make it a more nutritive choice.
Not to mention that some individuals don’t receive their daily vitamins, minerals and protein from a plant based diet so more often than not. supplements are necessary, which not everyone thinks of. In my opinion, although vegan and vegetarian diets are a potentially beneficial life choice, they aren’t necessarily healthier.
Same goes for people who voluntarily go on a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a type of protein found in many types of grains. This means that gluten itself isn't unhealthy for people. In fact, many gluten-free products are chalk-full of sugar to make up for the lack of taste that regular flour usually provides. I think that it’s just the carbohydrates that are correlated with gluten that people truly fear.
Then again, carbs aren’t bad for you either, but that’s a whole other story.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily of The Torch.