- Vegan diet may lead to digestion issues
- This is because it makes one rely excessively on lentils and legumes
- Lack of some food groups in vegan diet can weaken immunity
Vegan diet: Intolerance to milk and dairy products, weight loss, stopping animal cruelty and shifting towards so-called cleaner eating are a few of the many reasons why many people are adopting veganism or vegan diet. Veganism is a lifestyle which excludes all kinds of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it in the form of food, clothing or for any other purpose. A vegan diet, thus, does not include any animal-derived foods like milk, meat, eggs and dairy. Vegan diet has been known to offer a variety of health benefits including weight loss, regulation of blood sugar levels and prevention of type 2 diabetes, better heart health and much more.
However, as is the case with any restrictive diet (diet which asks for food restrictions), even vegan diet comes with its set of side effects. Delhi-based nutritionist Pooja Malhotra talks about a few side effects of vegan diet in one of her posts on Instagram.
Side effects of vegan diet you must know
A vegan diet essentially involves eating everything vegetarian (minus dairy products). So, it involves eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds and whole grains. A diet which includes these foods is by and large considered to be healthy. However, being an extreme diet (as Malhotra terms it), it has a few side effects.
- According to Malhotra, vegan diet is an extreme diet "because it excludes all animal-based food groups like dairy, eggs, meats and even honey".
- Inadequate protein intake is another side effect of a vegan diet. Milk, eggs and cottage cheese are some of the primary sources of protein in non-meat eaters. Excluding even these, and relying on lentils and legumes for overall protein intake may not be enough.
- Excessively relying on lentils and legumes for your nutrition may lead to digestion issues.
- A restrictive diet like vegan diet also increases risks of iron deficiency, deficiency of Vitamin B12 (no eggs) and omega-3 fatty acids (no ghee, fatty fish)
- As a result of this, your immunity may become weaker.
- Soy milk, soya beans and tofu are other protein sources that vegans rely on. But, "textured soy proteins are no better than many processed food items," Malhotra asserts.
- A vegan diet may not necessarily be entirely healthy. It does not exclude refined flour, refined sugar and other highly processed foods like frozen foods, fried food, etc.
- Following a vegan diet may increase consumption of carbs for more energy and hunger satisfaction. Lack of sufficient protein may make one rely more on carbs.
Weight loss: What is a better alternative?
If you want to lose weight and/or follow a healthy lifestyle, a more flexible approach is a better option. You should include all food groups in your diet, in moderation, Malhotra recommends. According to her, an inclusive, balanced diet in moderation is a time-tested lifestyle that has been followed by generations.
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.