Are vegan diets sustainable?

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By Shameeka Voyiya

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 2 of VARSITY News.

 

Recently, there have been many people specifically YouTubers and bloggers who have come out with “why I’m no longer vegan” posts. They have shared their reasons for not being able to maintain this diet, and this raises the question: if so many people are unable to continue eating this way, are plant-based vegan diets sustainable?

 

 

Ex-vegan YouTuber Bonny Rebecca recently came out with her “why I’m no longer vegan”. In the video she discusses her vegan journey and how she and her partner went through many health problems (including digestive and skin problems) while eating a plant-based diet. She shared how they tried everything that they could to relieve their symptoms, however nothing worked. Bonny stayed vegan while experiencing these problems; she describes how her skin was in a bad state and how she struggled with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other gut-related illnesses while on this diet. She also mentioned how her symptoms gradually started to alleviate when she began to introduce animal products such as fish and eggs into her diet. This shows that the vegan diet was not right for her body, and a better option was to switch to a healthier and more balanced way of eating that did not result in illness.

 

While a healthy vegan diet has many health benefits, such as lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and a reduction in the risk of heart disease, there is an increase in the risk of developing certain nutrient deficiencies. Most vegan diets lackvitamin B12, vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids and zinc, and unless people eat foods that are fortified with these micronutrients, they run the risk of being deficient in them.

 

People who let go of veganism usually do so because of the detrimental health effects such as anaemia (due to a deficiency in haem-iron) and gut-related issues. Many vegans have reported digestive issues such as bloating, leaky gut syndrome and an overgrowth of gut bacteria due to the excessive amount of fibre that is contained in this diet. It is thus recommended that before going on a vegan diet, people should consult their general health practitioner regarding any concerns that they have, including to see what would work for their bodies.

 

With that said, the plant-based diet is generally healthier than the standard diet that most people eat. It includes more fibre and vitamins, and many people have reported a visible clearance in acne due to not consuming dairy products. However, it is recommended that supplementation be considered to combat possible micronutrient deficiencies.

 

All bodies work in different ways. A vegan diet might not be effective for some, and it might be for others. Therefore, people must be conscious of their health while on a plant-based diet, and if it is not sustainable for them, incorporate certain foods that provide the necessary nutrition that they need. People may consider decreasing their consumption of animal products in their diet while incorporating more plant-based foods, like Bonnie Rebecca did. This would be a healthier and more sustainable alternative to the strict vegan diet.

 

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