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A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes the consumption of animal products. The difference is that unlike vegetarians, vegans not only cut out meat, but they also do not eat animal products such as cheese, milk, or eggs. People choose a vegan lifestyle for a variety of reasons. These include not only a desire to improve one’s health or lose weight but also potential motivations such as concern for animals or the environment.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet offers a number of health benefits, and losing weight is only one. A diet that avoids animal meats and fats is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. It reduces the risk of certain cancers such as cancer of the colon, prostate, cervix, and ovaries. One study also suggests that a vegan diet may reduce the risk of other ailments such as Parkinson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
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Negative Effects of Eating Meat and Dairy
Compared to a vegan diet, meat-based diets bring a number of significant health risks. Higher levels of cholesterol are one consequence of meat consumption, especially red meats. Meats have higher levels of saturated fats that make excessive weight gain more difficult to prevent. Most alarming is the elevated risk of a large number of cancers that may come with consuming meat. Even fish contains mercury and other chemicals that are hazardous to human health.
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- Health and Environmental Implications of U.S. Meat Consumption and Production
- Science Watch: Health Effects of Meat
- Health Concerns Associated With the Consumption of Meat
How to Switch to Veganism
Turning to a vegan diet from a lifestyle of meat consumption is not always easy. The best way to make the transition is to do it gradually, phasing out meats in favor of fruits, grains, vegetables, and legumes. A vegan support group can provide a wealth of information about vegan recipes and other nutritional issues. Experimenting with different meal choices and discovering new plant-based recipes is an important part of switching away from meats and dairy products. When it comes to going out, there are often vegan options: People will want to research which restaurants offer a vegan menu or vegan alternatives. When switching to veganism, it is important to stay on top of one’s dental care and keep routine appointments with the dentist. Philadelphia, PA, dentists and those around the country can offer appropriate dental solutions to help keep gums and teeth in good condition, and one’s doctor can ensure that they are getting the nutrients that they need for good medical and dental health.
- How to Go Vegan
- How to Become a Vegan: 12 Tips From the Experts
- 12 Things You Need to Know Before Going Vegan
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- Planning a Healthy Vegetarian Diet
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- Three Tips for Going Vegan the Right Way (Even If it’s Just Part-Time)
- Starting the Transition to a Vegan Diet
Staying Healthy With a Vegan Diet
A vegan lifestyle has a wealth of benefits; however, like all other diets, it is necessary to understand how to satisfy the most important nutritional requirements. Contrary to popular misconceptions, meat is not necessary for sufficient intake of protein, which can be achieved by eating beans, nuts, and leafy vegetables like kale. A common issue with vegan diets is the need to find proper sources of vitamin B12, which can be satisfied with fortified soy-based foods or vitamin supplements. Exercise is also an important part of a vegan diet, as it is with any other diet.
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- Vitamin B12 in Vegetarian Diets (PDF)
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Eating a Vegan Diet on a Budget
Switching to a vegan diet does not have to result in an increase in a person’s food budget. Food is typically cheaper when purchased in bulk, including ingredients for vegan meals. In addition, frozen fruits and vegetables are cheaper and easy to store for a very long time compared to fresh foods. A vegan diet is often inherently cheaper because meats and dairy products typically cost more per pound than their vegan alternatives.
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- 30 Ways in 30 Days to Stretch Your Fruit and Vegetable Budget (PDF)
- Eat Well on $4 a Day: Good and Cheap (PDF)
Meat-based diets are inherently supported by the slaughter of animals, which makes the type of diet you eat an animal rights issue as well as a health-related one. Many male dairy cows are killed because they have no other economic value. Female dairy cows get worn out from the constant demand to make milk and then slaughtered when they are unable to continue producing. Egg-laying hens are often kept in overcrowded cages, putting them at risk for disease. In the egg industry, male chicks are killed and disposed of in various ways shortly after birth.
- The Welfare of Animals in the Meat, Egg, and Dairy Industries (PDF)
- Farm Animal Welfare: Chickens
- Dairy Cattle: Key Welfare Issues
- Dairy Cows and Welfare
- The Impact of By-Catch on Whales and Dolphins
- Shrouded By the Sea: The Sad Truth About Dolphin Deaths in Fishing Nets
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