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Question Vegan v. Vegetarian v. Whole plant diet

Puffin Zero

Star Member
Out of curiosity, is there a particular health benefit of one type over the other? That is the primary goal for my having become a vegetarian is health benefit. Even then some of the things a vegetarian may eat that a vegan does not, I also do not eat. It's like I have one foot in one side and one on the other. Just curious if going vegan is anymore beneficial than being a vegetarian
 

Poppy

Ankle Biter
Vegan is much more beneficial - especially to the animals! :flower:

That being said, it's pretty easy to have both a healthy and interesting vegan diet these days. Concentrate on eating whole grains; lots of fruits and vegetables; beans, legumes and nuts; and healthy fats. If you find that diary and eggs are keeping you from going vegan, try some substitutes (and give them a fair chance!) to see how you like them. There's such a variety of non-dairy milks and cheese these days, you're likely to find some you really like.

Just to be completely upfront, I went vegan from a long-term vegetarian when I became involved in animal rights. At first it was daunting, but after 12 years, it's pretty much second nature. The health benefits have been terrific. I'm the only 56-year-old I know who has no health issues other than some arthritis in my hands. I have normal blood panels, normal weight (ok, maybe a wee bit pudgy around the holidays) and can keep up with my young grandchildren. I exercise regularly, eat a completely plant-based diet and have good/healthy personal relationships. My health goals at this age are to age as gracefully as possible and to enjoy traveling. I have found that being vegan has been an enormously rewarding experience - and has given me inner strength I didn't know I had. :)
 

Joe

Celebrity Member
Out of curiosity, is there a particular health benefit of one type over the other? That is the primary goal for my having become a vegetarian is health benefit. Even then some of the things a vegetarian may eat that a vegan does not, I also do not eat. It's like I have one foot in one side and one on the other. Just curious if going vegan is anymore beneficial than being a vegetarian
I disagree with Poppy.

Going vegan may be less beneficial to your health than being vegetarian.

How can this be? Dr. Michael Greger explains in this 12-minute video which reviews a study of the health of vegans.
This study found that many vegans did not have better health effects than meat-eaters.

Why Some Vegans Have Same Cancer, Heart Attack & Death Rates As Meat Eaters- Dr Michael Greger

Dr. Michael Greger on Flaws in Veg*n Diets, and How to Fix Them

The reasons for this is that these vegans failed to control the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 in their bloodstreams and also the (high) level of homocystene.

 

Poppy

Ankle Biter
So basically, take b12, stay away from unhealthy fats, increase your intake of ground flax seeds, and we should be fine. I certainly could ingest more flax seeds and cook with flax seed oil, but I've been good about b12 supplements and the rest of my diet is pretty darn good.
 

silva

Addicted Poster
As far as the omega 3-6-9's, I've been supplementing algae DHA, just to be sure.
How can you know if you're converting the proper ratios of omegas to the ultimate goal of becoming DHA? and EPA? Sea plants and fish are the only sources that have DHA, which i never got as an omnivore.
I also get at least one tablespoon of ground flax with my morning oatmeal or smoothie. I try to use little oil, when I do it's olive.
I eat a lot of those roasted seaweed snacks, do those have DHA? I can never find much info on them. I know they have oils added

A lot of vegan foods are getting fortified with algae DHA, from non dairy milks, pasta sauces and ..others

I didn't watch the whole video but am puzzled because dairy and eggs are both high in omega 6- which are high in so many foods. Eggs can be high in 3 only if fed a diet containing things like flax. It's the ratio thats most important, so I can't see where an ove/and or lacto vegetarian would benefit.
I've always thought it was adding some fish that upped the ante against vegans
 

Naturebound

World Class Member
I agree with you there silva about fish. Sardines for example contain high amounts of b12, calcium, protein, dha, even D, and a small amount of K2 all in one little serving, all nutrients that are harder or impossible to get from plant food. Though sardines are also high in fat and cholesterol. And there is some risk of mercury contamination and other environmental issues associated with fishing. Never mind the cruel way that sardines are caught in the wild or kept in captivity and bred.

I became vegan purely for ethical reasons. I went from omni to vegan six years ago and have stayed vegan for six years now. However, I do worry sometimes about meeting some nutritional needs. Though I am relatively healthy, and my hemoglobin, iron, B12, glucose, triglycerides, LDL/HDL etc have all tested very healthy over the years as a vegan, I have a long history of several health problems that are challenged by eating a vegan diet. I have a history of anorexia nervosa, and a very long history of hypothyroidism spanning back to 1988. I have to be careful with soy intake, and intake of cruciferous vegetables. I don't avoid them, but I am careful and consume them in moderation. I will not allow myself to restrict my diet too much because that always leads to bad things for me. I need to be more flexible within the vegan realm. I also have a long history of osteoporosis spanning back to when I was diagnosed at 34 years of age in 2006. I lost my ovaries and uterus the year before so I had a baseline DXA scan and was shocked at how bad my results were. Over the years my bone density has declined rapidly (despite intense weight bearing exercise, hormone replacement therapy, supplements), and I am now on medication for it. I was doing well until last November/December when I injured my back and it will not heal. I have another appointment Friday for yet another opinion. I am trying to be more diligent about getting plant food sources of calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium etc and not rely too much on supplements alone because they are less well absorbed. I'm not going to lie that I have daydreamed and thought about stepping down to vegetarian but I can not get past the ethical issues at all with consuming dairy and where it comes from and what cows are put through. I just can't. I had an intolerance to most dairy for years before I went vegan anyway, with the exception of Greek yogurt, which I read somewhere some time ago has a lowered amount of lactose due to the extra processing step?

However, I think a vegan diet CAN be very healthful and beneficial in general, and especially for certain subgroups of people suffering from certain diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes II. We have the benefit of no cholesterol in the foods we consume, and most of us have far less trouble getting in our required amount of fruits and vegetables each day. :) I personally eat about 80% whole foods but allow plenty of room for some processed foods....vegan mayo, plant milks, occasional veggie burgers or plant "meat", vegan yogurts...It is part of fighting my eating disorder but also I happen to enjoy some processed foods and find nothing wrong with including them occasionally.

I find that the ethical and environmental benefits of being vegan far outweigh that of vegetarian. The animal farming industry is brutal in so many ways, and an inefficient way of obtaining nutrients considering the energy and space farm animals require, and the care.
 

Jamie in Chile

Renowned Member
The health benefits of veganism vs vegetarianism are not that different. There are studies that show vegans/vegetarians beating meat eaters in general in such areas as heart disease, cancer and longevity. These studies tend to show smaller differences between vegans and vegetarians which are sometimes inconclusive given doubts about how exactly vegans and vegetarians were defined, what exactly the participants were eating, and whether the sample size of vegans was large enough.

My gut feeling - although I can't back this up with any evidence and am not that confident - is that a well planned vegan diet with B12 supplementation, and careful watching of iodine, calcium and Omega 3s using either very careful dietary planning, supplements or blood tests (any one of these three may be sufficient) is very slightly better than a vegetarian diet, whereas a carelessly planned vegan diet (e.g. occassional or no B12, don't consider sources of iodine, calcium or Omega 3) is slightly worse than a vegetarian diet.

If you already eat very little eggs, cheese, butter, milk etc, then likely a strict vegan diet vs a vegetarian diet with occassional eggs/cheese is almost the same diet, so there isn't really any difference. Removing ALL animal products from your diet is most likely more about other questions than health, since it won't make much difference to health (in probability terms) to remove a few small bits of dairy or whatever.

As to the whole plant food diet, if we are eating mainly fruits, vegetables and mimimally processed grains and legumes, then evidence suggests that such a diet is beneficial and perhaps even the most healthy of all diets, since avoiding/minimizing junk foods (whether vegan or otherwise) may be beneficial in a number of ways (salt, sugar, chemicals, getting overweight, diabetes).

If you eat a large amount of dairy/eggs or junk food, reduce for health reasons. If it's a small amount, don't worry about for health reasons.

However if you are willing to consider ethical arguments there is a very strong argument for veganism as the best.
 

Andy_T

Addicted Poster
Forum Moderator
Going vegan/plant based/vegetarian will not make you more healthy in itself.
After all, you could only eat french fries and ketchup day in, day out, which would be a vegan diet, but likely not a very healthy one.
Conscientiously planning your diet, however, likely will.
 

silva

Addicted Poster
I went from omni, to lacto veg to vegan and for about a month now, WFPB. WFPB wins. I've lost the joint stiffness, my endurance for exercise has incredibly increased, my severe allergies gone to where I've now stopped my allergy meds, my flexiblity has increased, my eyes and skin look better.
I've been following Dr Gregers daily dozen. I feel giving up sugar and oils are probably the most significant, and while it's not hard to follow it is like I miss craving the cravings! It makes going vegan seem so tame :rolleyes:, and people do not even ask me about food anymore :D
 
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