There is a wealth of resources which affirm the healthfulness of a plant-based diet. An appropriately planned vegan diet is widely argued to offer many health benefits, as well as a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, many cancers, and obesity. Moreover, recent studies have also suggested that many animal-derived foods, such as red meat, can in fact be harmful to health and should therefore be reduced in the diet.
It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes. Plant-based diets are more environmentally sustainable than diets rich in animal products because they use fewer natural resources and are associated with much less environmental damage. Vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. Low intake of saturated fat and high intakes of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds (all rich in fiber and phytochemicals) are characteristics of vegetarian and vegan diets that produce lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and better serum glucose control. These factors contribute to reduction of chronic disease. Vegans need reliable sources of vitamin B-12, such as fortified foods or supplements.(Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets)
For health advice and further information, visit the following sites as a starting point:
- Nutrition and Health – The Vegan Society
- What to know about vegan diets – Medical News Today
- Viva! Health – Viva!
- Vegan Health – veganhealth.org