Research-Based Advantages And Disadvantages Of Vegan Diets

Vegan diets have more benefits than disadvantages when followed correctly.

Vegan diets are controversial, challenging, increasingly popular, and unimaginable for some. Staunch vegan supporters believe that following the diet improves your health and prevents many diseases. But we know you might be reluctant to take up veganism, not just because you have to give up meat.

Multiple studies have proven the many benefits of veganism. However, just as many studies have also spoken about certain deficiencies specific to vegan diets. Let’s make your life easier and tell you what the research out there says about these plant-based diets.


Advantages Of Veganism According To Research

1. Prevents Cancer

 Vegan diets prevent multiple types of cancer.

Vegan diets, like any other diet, cannot cure cancer. However, it might be the best option to reduce the risk of and be a complementary diet option for cancer.
Obesity is one of the major risk factors for cancer. With a low-protein and low-fat vegan diet, most vegans tend to have a low BMI, which reduces the risk of cancer and metabolic diseases.


[pullquote]By preventing obesity, a vegan diet obliterates one of the major risk factors for cancer.[/pullquote]

A healthy, well-planned vegan diet with a good balance of fruits, vegetables, and legumes can protect against lung, mouth, esophagus, stomach, prostate cancers.1 It also lowers the chances of female-specific cancers.2


2. Treats Diabetes

Veganism can treat diabetes by improving glycemic control and reducing weight

Vegan diets are known for their effectiveness in improving glycemic control and treating diabetes. The diets treat diabetes in 2 ways:

  1. Vegan meals increase the antioxidant activity in the body, thus reducing oxidative stress and reducing the need for insulin.3
  2. Multiple studies have compared a low-fat vegan diet to a diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association and a regular low-fat diet. The vegan diet causes a more significant reduction of blood sugar and cholesterol in those with type-2 diabetes.4 5

3. Reduces Cardiovascular Risk Factors

By reducing weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, a vegan diet can reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

Vegan diets reduce weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, three of the prominent factors of cardiovascular diseases. According to studies, vegan diets target these factors in both adults and children.6


Vegan diets reduce your risk of cardiovascular conditions and diabetes as well, with much more effectiveness than American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association diet.7 8

4. Treats Arthritis Symptoms

Vegan diets can treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


[pullquote]By inducing weight loss, vegan diets further improve your chances of treating arthritis.[/pullquote]

A vegan diet is your best bet if you’ve symptoms of arthritis or you have a family history. Such diets treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by targeting the symptoms.9 According to the British Journal of Rheumatology, a raw, probiotic-rich vegan diet can reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis more effectively than omnivorous diets.10


5. Alleviates Hypothyroidism

Vegan foods, when eaten correctly, reduces the risk of hypothyroidism.

Unlike popular belief, vegan diets actually reduce the risk of hypothyroidism. But you do need to be careful about how you consume specific vegetables. Certain substances, called goitrogens, disrupt thyroid hormone production. These goitrogens are present in foods like soy, sweet potatoes, raw cruciferous veggies, and corn. However, cooking these vegetables removes goitrogens completely.

6. Does Not Harm Pregnant Women Or Newborns

 Vegan diets cause no malformations whatsoever in newborns.

Multiple studies (about 262 texts) have focused on the effect of vegan and vegetarian diets on pregnancy. In all of these studies, there have been no reported malformations in newborns due to vegan diets. However, it is possible that the mother suffers side effects of B12 and iron deficiencies due to the diet.11

7. Induces Significant Weight Loss

Vegans tend to have lesser BMI and lose weight faster.

[pullquote]Compared to a regular low-fat diet, you have more chances of reducing weight and maintaining it over the long term with low-fat vegan diets and support groups.[/pullquote]

Studies have noticed that low-fat vegan diets can result in significant weight loss. Those who follow vegan diets with B12 supplements and low-glycemic foods lose more weight than in any other diet.12 And a low-fat vegan diet has also been seen to help obese postmenopausal women and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome to lose considerable weight.13 14 15

Disadvantages Of Veganism According To Research

1. Causes B-12 deficiency

Plant-based vegan diets lack vitamin B12 and can cause deficiencies

Vegan plant-based foods do not supply the right amount of vitamin B12 that your body needs. Studies show that almost all vegans suffer from health issues related to vitamin B12 deficiency.16 So you’ve no option but to find other ways to get the nutrient.

Most vegans refuse to take B-12 supplements. If that’s the case, you have an option only between natural foods and fortified products. However, according to one study, the fortified foods are a more efficient alternative to supplements than the natural foods.17

2. Affects Bone Health

If you don't consume a good amount of potassium and vitamin K, vegan diets can cause bone fractures.

Most vegan diets contain lower than the daily recommended intake of calcium, vitamin D, and protein. According to studies, these deficiencies caused a lowered bone density in postmenopausal women and an increased number of hip and spine fractures in the elderly.

[pullquote]Your vegan diet should have enough potassium and vitamin D to counter the effects of vitamin D, calcium, and protein deficiencies.[/pullquote]

However, the diets contain a higher intake of potassium and vitamin K, each of which enhances the bone mass density and reduces the possibility of fractures, respectively.

3. Results In Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is common in vegans, although not too severe.

Since vegans do not consume any animal-based products, they’re under a higher risk of iron deficiency than are vegetarians and omnivores. A study observed the iron levels in vegan women who consumed more than the recommended iron intake through plant-based foods.18

While the study did not find many cases of anemia, the vegan women were still found to be iron-deficient. So if you’re following a vegan diet, make sure you monitor your iron levels and do the needful to avoid health issues.