As well as ‘Dry January’, a lot of you have told us that you’ve tried Veganuary too!
What is Veganuary?
It involves following a vegan diet for a month. People do it for lots of different reasons including benefits to personal health; animal welfare/ethical reasons; and potential environmental benefits!
A vegan diet involves eating a variety of plant-based foods – fruits and vegetables, pulses, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. If followed correctly, it can have a lot of health benefits! Going vegan might seem simple at first, however, friends who tried it this year reported back to us that they found it challenging! Things they found most challenging included deciding what to cook, choosing meals in restaurants and eating a balanced diet that wasn’t monotonous.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little bit of planning (shopping around and trying new recipes for example), following a varied and balanced plant-based diet can be achieved.
If you do adopt a vegan diet, prior planning is important to help prevent any nutrient deficiencies. Veggie Nut created a series of fantastic infographics to help explain where you can get all the nutrients you need when you follow a vegan diet!
So what does the evidence show about the vegan diet?
Two large cohort studies have compared individuals following different dietary patterns; one is the EPIC-Oxford and the other the Adventist Health Study 2 (AHS -2).
|Cardiovascular Disease||Vegetarians, including vegans, were less likely to develop heart disease when compared to meat and fish eaters (Crowe, 2013)||42% reduced risk in male vegans, however, the opposite was true for female vegans who had an 18% increased risk when compared to non- vegetarians (Orlich, 2013)|
|Cancer||All cancer incident rates were 19% lower among vegans when compared to health conscious non- vegetarians (Key, 2014)||Vegan diets showed statistically significant protection for overall cancer incidence. (Tantamango- Bartley, 2013)|
|Note||The values above are for all cancer sites, findings for individual cancer sites are inconclusive!|
|Diabetes, Type 2||Vegetarians have been shown to have lower risk.||Self-reported diabetes prevalence for non – vegetarians was 7.6% compared to 2.9% for vegans, aged over 30 years. (Tonstad, 2009)
More research is needed with medically recorded diabetes with larger sample sizes!
Verdict: This is a very small sample of evidence and much more research is needed, particularly on the long-term health of vegans. There are many limitations to these studies and the consensus is that whether you decide to follow a vegan diet or an omnivorous diet it is important to remember that increasing your plant-based sources in your diet and limiting the amount of processed foods will always be beneficial! There is not enough evidence to suggest that a vegan diet is superior to any other diet balanced diet.
Do what works for you!