“And as the butcher rakes away the calf and binds the wretch and beats it when it strays, bearing it to the slaughter-house, looking the way her harmless young one went and can do naught but wail her darling’s loss.” (PETA UK, 2020) The words of Thomas Nashe and William Shakespeare advocate for a vegan diet, to emphasizing the suffering on the innocent animals being killed and striated of its identity and butchered to meat and unrecognizable of its prior living form. The term was coined in 1944, as a concept of avoiding the flesh and can be traced back to ancient Indian and eastern Mediterranean societies. Pythagoras of Samos first introduced vegetarianism in 500 BCE.
Vegetarianism caught the attention of Donald Watson and, with the help of his social circle (The Vegan Society). It made the Vegetarian Society in London as a new movement sparked, and a term was coined Vegan. As any movement gain momentum, the ideals, the causes, and beliefs start elevating and gained strength. At the initial stage, the purpose of veganism was to eliminate dairy from the diet. Nevertheless, a vegan is a “strict vegetarian who consumes no animals’ food or dairy products” also “one who abstains from using animal products.” (Merriam-webster.com, 2020) Such prohibited goods consist of honey, egg and gelatin, and animal products like leather, fur, and silk.
Vegans survive by knowing and understanding the needs of the nutrients is helpful and prevents deficiencies, although the purpose of becoming a vegan differs in individuals (Dechalert, 2019). Transition to a healthy lifestyle and diet can prevent people from having diseases. The majority of people suffer from obesity and diabetes because of not having a proper diet. Although the primary source of fat in animal products and plant-based diets is low in total fat and can be said that high-fat animal products can lead to having risks of cardiovascular diseases (Campbell, 2006).
A misconception about the plant-based diet is about protein. Leguminous seeds, all types of nuts and soybeans are significant sources of protein and offers a high amount of protein. It is showed that higher the amount of protein results in the decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and also reduces the risk of chronic diseases. A healthy diet should contain amino acids, minerals, and vitamins. A proper diet does not exist without any type of fat and carbohydrates (Fung and Hu, 2003). Calcium is a significant component to strengthen the bone. A little amount of Calcium can increase the risk of injury in the bone. Most of the soy products can be beneficial and increase bone density. Vegan requires a minimum amount of Calcium to obstruct low mass of bone, and as stated that “soy isoflavones help to prevent breakdown and stimulate the growth of bones.” (Messina & Mangels, 2001). According to NIH [National Institutes of Health], RDA [Recommended Dietary Allowance] should be increased by 10-15% and more for the young age group to obtain the optimum level of amino acids, and minerals like iron in plant-diet the minerals are depleted because of phytates. Many other nutrients can also help in the process of assimilation of nonheme iron.
However, a study by Clarys looked at the comparison between the benefits of a vegan diet compared with non-vegetarian and vegetarian diets. The method Clarys used was a cross-sectional survey taking a 52-items frequency questionnaire comprising of items of a vegetarian and vegan diet (Clarys, et al., 2014). Based on the research, it was analyzed that the vegan diet had a better intake of fats, low levels of protein, low calcium intake, and high fiber content in comparison to the non-vegetarian diet. Moreover, HEI-2010 [Healthy Eating Index 2010] results showed that the vegan diet received the highest index values and non-vegetarian the lowest because of the higher intake of fruits and vegetables, which contains less fat and minerals like sodium.
The intake of Calcium is similar in vegetarians and non-vegetarians, but a vegan diet lacks calcium intake and requires dark green vegetables in increasing the level of Calcium. It has been recommended that acid load in bone is reduced because of no intake of animal meat and is beneficial for bone health (Key, Appleby and Rosell, 2020).
The Oxford-EPIC study states that hypertension has been found the lowest among vegans. Also, it has found the lower levels in systolic and diastolic blood pressures than people following other diets and differs in body mass, and vegans are mostly lean in size. Obesity and hypertension play a part in the difference in diets as risks are elevated because of high blood pressure and high BMI (Deckers, J. (2016)).
The Vegan Society provides all the details about the lifestyle, their initiatives, and food products that will promote a well-planned and healthy vegan diet. The society recommends to use whole grain because of its nutritious content rather than refined grains and to limit the use of salt (The Vegan Society, 2020). Like people, the media is also attracted to the vegan diet; articles are often discussed about the vegan diet and promotes. For instance, US News Health’s & Health & Nutrition provides several benefits from a vegan diet, the proportion of calories obtained, and recommendation is provided (Anon, 2020).
McWilliams wrote that science could assess the plant-based diet. However, it depends on the individual choosing this diet and cured them of obesity, hypertension, and having a healthy BMI and includes that many books such as The Vegetarian Myth may have neglected the healthful consequences of the vegan diet (McWilliams, 2020). Angela, with her blog, “Oh She Glows – glow from the inside out,” shares about her husband’s transition to a vegan diet and lost 20 pounds and maintained the cholesterol levels without any medicinal help and dieting. Moreover, the replacement for eggs is to make tofu balls and for replacement of meat, innovating dishes like chick’n salad, which consists of vegetable salad, chickpea, and tofu.
The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), is an organization aimed to educate the public on vegetarianism and the consequences on health, nutrition and bring beneficial changes in the environment, (Vrg.org, 2020) and reflects about the functioning of the meat industry that when animals become unproductive like chickens and cow, they are often sold for their meat and increases ethical and moral concerns for vegans.
Living being are not someone’s property is the philosophy used by vegans; for instance, female cow has to be pregnant for producing milk, and they live like an offspring producing factory, and their offspring are sold to be slaughtered for their meat and lifespan of cow reduces for maximizing production (Vegan Action, 2020). Debbie in “Maple Spice…and all vegan things nice!” transitioned from vegetarian to vegan because of the ethical reasons and health issues (Me, 2020), Em, author of “This Rawsome Vegan Life” elaborates about becoming that was to nourish her body and soul and to not hinder with other living being’s rights for life (Thisrawsomeveganlife.com, 2020).
Stereotypes and myths about vegans, one myth is that “Vegans are not healthy” and is not true as many studies proved that the health benefits and cure many diseases and is nutritious (Healthy Food Guide, 2020). Another myth is that “it is restrictive,” the nutrients the body needs are all present in a plant-diet, and it depends upon the commitment and a sense of fun for making it sustainable for a long duration (Gloss, 2020).
Though it can be said that vegan faces the deficiency of some minerals because of a restrictive diet and vegans can adjust to the deficiencies in the long term, which remained undefined in popular articles. The scientific article proposed evidence that plant-diet is sufficient enough and is beneficial than other diets as it prevents diseases like obesity and hypertension and reduces the risk of other chronic diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Physicians recommend people for the exclusion of food during recovery, and on the basis of this concept, it can be interpreted that the vegan diet to be used as a kind of medical intervention. Studies showed that vegans tend to be fit physically and maintains a standard BMI index. Despite this, an unhealthy vegan diet can be found if a participant has junk food in the course of a vegan diet.
Lifestyle also plays a vital role in maintaining the health status. Scientific literature takes no notice of the philosophy behind the vegan lifestyle, and it can be interpreted that not only diet assures the health status but also the idea, beliefs, and philosophy, as mentioned in popular articles. People often depend on public articles and are sometimes misinformed about the information as it does not provide in-depth knowledge. Also, further research required for the concept of mindfulness and physical activities. It is evident that both the literature helped in filling the gap of knowledge and contrasts with the vegan diet. To gain more knowledge, it is necessary to have more interaction with the insider’s perspective via FGDs and to collect more data to verify the beliefs, reasons, and further research.
Further research is required in particular topics and should be explored. In revealing some common stereotypes, can help the promotion of veganism and spread across everyone. Dunn wrote in his blog that “successful kills of big mammals may have been more of a treat than an everyday reality.” (Eiseley, 1943). It can be inferred that humans have adapted to meat-eating and relies on plant-based diets earlier and be said that the human diet has been transformed over the course of time on the basis of nutrients required by our body.
 RDA is a sufficient intake of nutrients on daily average of almost all healthy people.
 BMI is a measure of body fat based on weight and height.
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