Well-planned vegan diets follow healthy eating guidelines and contain all the nutrients our bodies need. Some research has linked vegan diets to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and lower rates of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. If a vegan baby is weaned from breast milk before 12 months of age, he or she should be fed vegan infant formula until one year of age. Some people may be concerned about meeting their protein needs on a vegan diet, but many plant foods are excellent sources of protein.
Many animal foods are high in fat and calories, so substituting low-calorie plant foods can help people manage their weight. Animal meat is often contaminated with feces, blood, and other body fluids, making animal foods the leading source of food poisoning in the United States. These studies serve as a starting point, Faidon says, and since most of the data on veganism is observational, there are still uncertainties surrounding the vegan diet, especially when it comes to long-term effects. Vegan diets based on probiotic-rich whole foods may significantly decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Observational studies comparing vegans to vegetarians and the general population report that vegans may benefit from up to 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure (3.There have been two population studies that have followed vegans over time, one that followed Seventh-day Adventists in the United States and Canada, and the EPIC-Oxford study, which tracked the health of nearly 50,000 meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans across the UK. Although the evidence is not very strong for the vegan diet specifically, Cade says, the vegan diet appears to be linked to better overall health, apart from bone density and fractures, which may be more common due to possible lower calcium intake, and the likelihood of vitamin B12 deficiency. The NURMI study follows 8,000 runners across Europe, including meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians, and aims to test whether following a vegan diet over time leads to greater endurance over half marathon and marathon distances. However, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that nutritional yeast is not an adequate source of B12, and vegans should take supplements or eat fortified foods.
Since these foods make up a greater proportion of a vegan diet than a typical Western diet, they may contribute to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients. If vegans have any basis for objecting to the food choices made by most of society, it is that the question of whether animal rights are systematically violated rarely receives serious consideration. Researchers worry that much of the research comparing vegan diet and health outcomes (also known as observational research) is unreliable, since vegans tend to be healthier.