Hello everyone, welcome back to Let’s Talk Health with Mairi. I am sorry that I missed last week’s blog post! I have been crazy busy getting started with my Ph.D. and figuring out how to manage my time to get everything done. My blog and podcast took a backseat last week, but we are back!
Today our topic: Vegetarian VS Vegan (from someone who was vegan for almost two years and is now vegetarian plus a registered Nutritionist).
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There is a seemingly subtle, yet massive difference between these dietary preferences (vegan, vegetarian). Let’s talk about it.
Last week a friend of mine told me that they were thinking of going vegan. My reaction to this was ‘proceed with caution’. Even when I was vegan, I still had this reaction to people asking me about it. I suppose I wasn’t a vegan that was shouting about it from the rooftops and wanted everyone to become vegan too.
I thought that it was very restrictive and something that was hard to do right. The reason I felt good about undertaking a vegan diet was because of my knowledge of nutrition and health. I knew I could still eat very healthfully while being vegan. To be honest, I would only recommend a very small percentage of the population to follow a vegan diet without some sort of nutritional supervision.
The bottom line: it is very hard to get right, without creating nutritional deficiencies. That doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. It just takes more time, planning, and effort, which most people don’t have time for.
As a Nutritionist, I have and always will enjoy trying new foods and dietary trends. I like to know what works best so that I can advise with not only knowledge but experience. I am so happy that I went vegan when I did. I learned so many valuable habits and lessons from a totally plant-based diet.
There are SO many habits of a healthy vegan diet that we should ALL adopt. I will list them here.
- Daily bean and legume consumption.
- Eating mainly plants (fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and seeds).
- Avoiding processed meats.
- Cutting out many processed food options.
- Actively contributing to reducing climate change and promoting sustainable diets that are also healthy.
Making your diet more plant-based is ALWAYS a good idea. However, is totally vegan the best way to go?
My instinct is to say no. Here is my reasoning.
- Unless you have extensive nutrition knowledge, you’re probably missing something (especially at the start).
- Vegan diets are commonly deficient in calcium, iodine, vitamin B12, and sometimes omega 3 and complete proteins.
- It is very restrictive and may result in a problematic relationship with food.
- You may be discouraged to go out for a meal with friends and family in fear of feeling like a ‘burden’ or not getting the food you enjoy.
- There are many foods that are absolutely delicious and healthy that aren’t vegan, and restricting yourself from them forever may not be the best thing for your mental or physical health.
It is simply easier to get all the essential nutrients with a vegetarian diet, there are also so many things you can eat when vegetarian that simply isn’t an option for vegans.
That being said, eating an 80% plant-based diet with 20% dairy and eggs I feel, is pretty optimal. Plants are the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, and increasing your intake is only a good thing. However, adding some dairy and eggs can boost the nutrient quality of your diet and not to mention the pleasure of life!
My thoughts when I was vegan “Will I really never eat dairy or eggs again?”. That thought didn’t empower me, it restricted me. Life should be enjoyable, and a healthy diet will help you with that. However, being too restrictive may have the opposite effect.
I hope this blog post gives you some motivation to increase plant foods in your diet and not feel the pressure to totally remove meat, dairy, and eggs.
I hope you loved this post. Let me know if you did in the comments below.
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Thank you for reading,