Pros and Сons of Veganism: Everything You Need to Know

    Pros and Сons of Veganism: Everything You Need to Know
    Updated 24 April 2020 |
    Published 03 December 2019
    Fact Checked
    Olga Adereyko, MD
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Thinking of switching to a plant-based diet? Research the various drawbacks and benefits of being vegan. By exploring unbiased vegan information and the pros and cons of eating meat, you can ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.

    What is veganism?

    Vegans follow a plant-based diet and avoid all animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, dairy, eggs, and honey. Many also refrain from buying animal-derived products (e.g., leather and reptile skin). Generally, veganism disavows anything involving animal exploitation, including the use of animals for entertainment and product testing.

    Of course, there are vegan pros and cons. Veganism is unhealthy when you’re not getting all the proper nutrients. Adopting a vegan lifestyle requires a lot of planning and mindfulness of what you’re putting in and on your body.

    Animal-derived ingredients like gelatin, albumin, casein, carmine, and pepsin can be found in marshmallows, gummy candies, chewing gum, etc. Vegans must diligently check food labels when grocery shopping.

    Although eating a vegan diet may seem limiting, there are far more plant-based options on the market today. Vegans enjoy fruits and vegetables, legumes (like beans and lentils), grains and seeds, nuts and nut butters, plant-based milks, and soy products such as tofu.

    Plant-based meats and cheeses have also become readily available, but it’s best to consume mostly fresh produce and whole grains rather than mass-produced, processed items.

    Health benefits of veganism

    When it’s well-planned and executed, the health benefits of veganism are numerous. Since this diet relies heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes, it’s usually rich in nutrients.

    Whole foods contain tons of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, while being low in saturated fats and cholesterol. A well-rounded vegan diet supplies vitamins B1, C, and E, as well as fiber, magnesium, folic acid, and iron. Just remember to incorporate proteins and essential amino acids, which ordinarily come from animal-based sources.

    As with any lifestyle, certain pros and cons of veganism should be considered. However, the wide array of health benefits includes:

    • Improved blood sugar control: Unfortunately, type 2 diabetes is becoming more prevalent in the U.S. But vegetarian and vegan lifestyles present potential advantages for the management of this chronic condition. In clinical trials, individuals increased glycemic control to a greater extent with low-fat vegan diets than with conventional diabetes diets. In observational studies, individuals on vegetarian diets prove roughly half as likely to develop diabetes, compared to non-vegetarians. 
    • Weight loss: Since they contain more fat and calories than plant-based foods, eliminating meat, dairy, and other animal products can help you lose weight and lower cholesterol. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vegans tend to have lower body weight and reduced blood pressure.
    • Decreased chance of cardiovascular and heart disease: Certain contributing factors for heart disease depend on your daily diet. Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels keep your heart in tip-top shape. Generally speaking, vegans are more likely to consume heart-healthy foods including nuts, whole grains, and vegetables. 
    • Decreased chance of developing certain cancers: Eating too much meat, especially processed varieties (e.g., hot dogs, deli meat) may make you more susceptible to colon and esophageal cancer, among other problems. However, vegan diets (known for being high in fiber) could help improve your odds for avoiding those issues.

    Other benefits of veganism

    While many compare vegan diet benefits and disadvantages for health reasons, a number of environmental and ethical concerns should be taken into consideration as well. Vegan lifestyles can lessen our impact on the environment, preserve natural resources, and bring inhumane agricultural and animal testing practices to light.

    Breeding, raising, and feeding animals for consumption depletes natural resources. More than half of the world’s crops go towards food production, and 60 percent of deforestation occurs as a result of cattle-raising and other agricultural practices. These valuable resources could otherwise be utilized for growing plants to feed a greater number of people.

    Negative effects of veganism

    The transition to a plant-based lifestyle should be well-planned in order to avoid the dangers of a vegan diet. Potentially serious nutritional deficiencies and vegan health risks must be taken into account. See your doctor or nutritionist to ensure you don’t miss out on proteins and other key nutrients only found in meat, dairy, and eggs.  

    Going vegan side effects sometimes include anemia, disruptions in hormone production, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and depression from a lack of omega-3 fatty acids. That’s why it’s crucial to include plenty of proteins, vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, iodine, zinc, and omega-3s in your diet.

    Going vegan side effects sometimes include anemia, disruptions in hormone production, vitamin B12 deficiencies, and depression from a lack of omega-3 fatty acids.

    Some of these nutrients are added to fortified cereals, plant milks, tofu, and nutritional yeast. Legumes and dark, leafy vegetables provide iron and calcium, while tofu is a great source of protein, calcium, and zinc. Lastly, omega-3s, such as DHA and ALA, can be found in walnuts, canola oil, soy products, and ground flaxseed.

    What are some other cons of veganism? Believe it or not, weight gain is one reason why being vegan is bad for some people. It’s often the result of eating too much processed junk food, which is high in fat and calories. Switching to a plant-based diet may leave you feeling hungry and trigger a desire to binge. Opt instead for whole grains, lean proteins, and other foods that keep you feeling fuller longer.

    As mentioned, a vegan lifestyle takes planning and preparation. Consider writing grocery lists ahead of time, shopping wisely, and preparing your own meals. Eating out without investigating a restaurant carefully can demonstrate both the pros and cons of being vegan. Nowadays, many restaurants have multiple vegan options, and what’s more, innovative new vegan eateries continue to pop up all over the country.

    Although humans once needed meat for survival, this is no longer true. According to a United Nations report, population growth and increased consumption of animal products has a significant environmental impact when it comes to sustainability. In contrast, other studies point to the negative effects of veganism on the environment and countries that depend on animal products for food and exports.

    Ultimately, it’s wise to talk to your doctor about veganism pros and cons. Determine whether you need daily supplements, or have any conditions which may lead to problems with a vegan diet. Then be sure to follow up with routine visits and blood tests.


    There’s more to veganism than just cutting out animal products, but with a little research and planning, a well-balanced diet could enhance your overall health. After weighing vegan diet pros and cons, give it a try, and you might find the benefits of being vegan are worth the effort. 

    History of updates
    Current version (24 April 2020)
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
    Published (03 December 2019)
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