If you are a vegan or you know someone who is vegan, then you might have experienced or heard about vegan being called health nuts, and this is precisely what this article is all about. But before going further into the discussion, let’s see what the proper definitions of health nut and vegan are.
According to the dictionary, a health nut is a person who is obsessed about his or her health whereas vegan is a strict vegetarian, who does not consume food that comes from animals (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products).
What exactly is being vegan?
Let’s dig a little deeper into this. Veganism is a form of vegetarian diet that eliminates meat, dairy products, eggs, and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products. Vegan refers to a person who follows this way of eating as well as to the diet itself.
Even some vegans go beyond food and avoid using products that are tested on animals such as makeup and skincare products as well as all animal-derived products such as fur, wool, and leather. People typically choose to become vegan because of ethical reasons. Vegans consume plant-based food because plants do not feel pain as they have no central nervous system. They do not eat dairy products due to the enslavement and abuse of cattle for milk production.
For example, in the milk industry, when a milk giving cow gives birth to a calf, it is generally taken away within a day or after the day of delivery. This causes extreme suffering to both cow and calf. Mother cows then often cry for their calves for days. These cows are worked on milking machines two or more times a day as they are producing more milk that is meant for their calves. Due to this forced milking practice, dairy cows suffer painful inflammation of the mammary glands. Male calves usually end up as beef and females become milk cows like their mothers. This treatment with animals is the main reason why vegans don’t consume products derived directly or indirectly from animals.
Vegan vs. vegetarian
People usually get confused, and mix-up vegan with vegetarian because both focus on food from plant sources and do not eat any animal flesh such as chicken, pig, cow, seafood, or any other animal. There is also the fact that most (not all) of vegetarians eat eggs and dairy products, which is something vegans don’t do.
Vegetarians are likely to to be a bit more lenient when it comes to using products derived from animals, but you can find that the preference varies from person to person. But vegans in general strictly follow the vegan practices.
Veganism is also clearly defined, and there is no deviation. On the other hand, the vegetarian has vagueness as you might have seen a vegetarian who does not eat meat or dairy but eats eggs or a vegetarian who does not eat meat or eggs but still use dairy or it’s by-products like butter and wears animals derived products like wool or leather.
Types of vegan
Well if we logically try to classify vegan, then there would not be any types in it because there is only a single rule to follow that is not to eat and consume animals’ products and by-products, and this is what makes a person vegan without any ambiguity. But there is a variation in veganism based upon the consumption of vegan food.
An individual who combines the concepts of veganism, raw foodism as well as not consuming food cooked at the temperature above 48 °C (118 °F) is termed as a raw vegan.
What do vegans eat?
This is perhaps the most commonly asked question about veganism. A common misconception by some people is that vegans only eat salad for every meal. But vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and all the foods made by combining them.
So, vegans eat many of the common everyday foods that everyone else does, such as sandwiches, salads, chips, kinds of pasta, popcorns, eggless and non-dairy bread etc.
As being vegan is a known practice. So, there are various versions of vegan food available in the market such as vegan hot dogs, ice cream, mayonnaise, cheese, non-dairy yogurt and creams, milk substitutes like soy, almond, and rice milk, along with veggie burgers, burritos, and tofu.
Common assumptions about vegans
As there are still not a lot of people who are vegans as compared to the number of human beings on the planet. So, people don’t have a clear understanding of vegans and belief in a lot of myths related to veganism.
Here are some common thoughtless assumptions that are related to vegans in different societies:
- Being vegan means, you are super healthy, and you eat salad every day.
- Some think that vegans are malnourished because of the vegetarian diet.
- People also assume that vegans are super judgmental and preachy.
- Vegans have meat (mean) with vegetarians and omnivores.
- In some rare cases, people believe that vegans make others uncomfortable just by being vegan.
- Another annoying assumption is that as vegans care about animals’ wellbeing, they don’t care about the suffering of humans.
Vegans being considered as health nuts
Well, most of you might consider vegans as very much into eating healthy and may call them health nuts, but you cannot say for sure that vegans are health nuts. It’s because any person who is conscious about eating healthy could be a health nut. Whereas a vegan might not be a health nut because it clearly depends upon the reason, he adopted veganism. If he has chosen it because of ethical reason related to animals, then he might not be focusing on eating healthy rather he will eat anything that is not associated with animals which could be an unbalanced diet.
On the other side if he or she practices it for both health as well as ethical reasons, then the person might be taking a healthy and well-balanced diet. But still saying vegan a health nut sounds very rude. Because these people are sacrificing their food pleasure for the safety of animals. So, even if we don’t practice veganism at least, we should respect their choice.
Health benefits of eating vegan
Another reason behind calling vegans, health nuts is the health benefits with eating began foods, and there are a lot of them. Being vegan has a lot of health benefits, but it only comes when you take a balanced diet; otherwise, it will lead to malnutrition. Researches have claimed a lot of health benefits of going vegan. Some of these are discussed below.
Help in weight loss
Many observational and controlled studies have concluded that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss as vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes (BMIs) than non-vegans.
An increasing number of people are trying to consume plant-based diets in the hope of shedding excess weight. As vegan diets have a natural tendency to reduce calorie intake. This makes vegan diet more effective at promoting weight loss without the need to focus on cutting calories.
Richer in certain nutrients
Typically our diet includes different types of meat and animal products along with plant-sourced foods. But when we rely on plant source foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds, we intake higher level of certain beneficial nutrients. As studies have shown that vegan diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds along with potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamins A, C, and E.
But remember that poorly planned vegan diets will provide insufficient amounts of essential fatty acids, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc, and other necessary nutrients.
Lower blood sugar levels
Studies have reported that vegan diets lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. As research on vegans showed that they have higher insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and up to a 50–78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Lower the risk of heart disease
Eating vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, and fiber is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Because the vegan diet controls cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of developing high blood pressure and dying from heart disease.
Decrease pain from arthritis
A few studies have found that the vegan diet has positive effects on people with different types of arthritis. These studies showed that people having arthritis who consumed a vegan diet experienced a more significant improvement in signs such as pain, joint swelling, and morning stiffness.
Protection against cancers
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about one-third of all cancers can be prevented by factors within your control. So, the most important factor is diet. A recent review of 96 studies shows that vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer. As certain aspects of the vegan diet protect against prostate, breast, and colon cancers.
Improve kidney function
Going vegan may also improve declining kidney function. Studies have shown that people who substituted meat with protein foods from plants reduce their risk of poor kidney function.
So, there are a lot of health benefits of being vegan, but still, you can’t say vegan are health nuts.