If you’ve thought about trying a vegan diet, you might wonder if this way of eating is right for you. Although you can get some real benefits from going meatless, there are a few challenges, too.
What You Can Eat
On a vegan diet, you can eat foods made from plants, including:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Breads, rice, and pasta
- Dairy alternatives such as soymilk, coconut milk, and almond milk
- Vegetable oils
What You Can’t Eat
Vegans can’t eat any foods made from animals, including:
- Beef, pork, lamb, and other red meat
- Chicken, duck, and other poultry
- Fish or shellfish such as crabs, clams, and mussels
- Cheese, butter
- Milk, cream, ice cream, and other dairy products
- Mayonnaise (because it includes egg yolks)
Studies show that vegans have better heart health and lower odds of having certain diseases. Those who skip meat have less of a chance of becoming obese or getting heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Vegans are also less likely to get diabetes and some kinds of cancer, especially cancers of the GI tract and the breast, ovaries, and uterus in women.
Going vegan might even help you live longer, especially if you also cut down on your daily calories.
Better weight control may be one reason for all of these health benefits. Vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) than people who eat animal-based products.
Good nutrition is another perk. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts are staples of the vegan diet. These foods are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and compounds that help protect against diseases like diabetes and cancer.