Doctors describe what really happens to vegans

At the request of KP, the expert analyzed the data of numerous scientific studies and evaluated the vegetarian diet from the point of view of evidence-based medicine.

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More and more seasonal fruits and vegetables are available in shops, markets and cottages. But what if you try to at least temporarily switch to a plant-based diet? “Veganism is the strictest type, excluding any animal products from the diet,” explains the CEO of the distance medical education service Igor Stepanukov. “By the way, this is not a new phenomenon – one of the followers of such a diet was the philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, who lived 2500 years ago.”

How healthy is this diet? Which is more – pros or cons? At KP’s request, the expert analyzed data from numerous scientific studies and evaluated a strict plant-based diet in terms of evidence-based medicine.


1. Plant foods are high in antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is OK!

2. Refusal of meat and other animal products, according to research, helps to normalize the metabolism of carbohydrates, lipid profile (the ratio of “useful” and “harmful” cholesterol in the body). In addition, followers of a strict plant-based diet may even have reduced inflammatory responses to infectious diseases.

3. Veganism has a beneficial effect on the intestinal microflora. Both the diversity and the number of beneficial microorganisms are increasing.

Found a plus of the plant-based diet for people with type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent). When switching to a vegan diet in such patients, according to the Diabetes Voice study, the concentration of lipoproteins (fats) in the blood plasma decreased by 21%.

5. A number of large studies have shown a link between a plant-based diet and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. For example, a report by the American Dietetic Association shows a reduction in the risk of dying from coronary heart disease in people who follow a vegan diet. The incidence of hypertension (hypertension) is also reduced.


1. Vegans are deficient in some important minerals and vitamins with an unbalanced diet. At the same time, it is extremely difficult to independently choose a set of herbal products that provide the body with all the necessary substances. It is unlikely to be done without consulting a sensible dietitian, says Igor Stepanyukov

Great: especially often in vegans there is a lack of vitamins B12, D and calcium. “People with rickets, osteoporosis or immunodeficiency should be careful in choosing this type of diet,” warns the expert.

2. Some vegans experience a lack of energy and a decrease in muscle mass. This is due to the fact that the absorption of plant proteins is much lower than that of animals, explains Stepanyukov.

3. Children who follow a strict plant diet may show a deficit in height and weight, reduced neurocognitive and psychomotor development. “In a growing organism, the need for many food ingredients is much greater than in adults. It is possible to create a balanced plant-based diet for a child, but it is much more difficult to do this than for an adult. “Continuous monitoring by a pediatrician and nutritionist is recommended,” says the expert.

4. Plant products in most cases do not contain all the amino acids we need. But these compounds are involved in all, without exception, biochemical processes in our body. Therefore, vegans are faced with the task of finding additional sources of amino acids (drugs, special diet, etc.).

5. If you are on a vegan diet, you should have regular blood tests. They can deviate from the rule, which is fraught with negative consequences for the body. In particular, it is important to monitor albumin protein levels and blood iron levels.


Vegans are at greater risk of social isolation and damage to their wallets

There are many factors that influence people’s dietary choices. Including the territorial and climatic characteristics of the place of residence, – notes Igor Stepanyukov, general director of the service for distance medical education. – An impressive example is the northern peoples. Their type of metabolism requires a lot of protein and fat in their food. Studies show that people who came to the Far North from the middle latitudes, the need for protein increases by 16%, for fat by 42%. But they need 40% less carbohydrates.

Foods high in fat and high in calories allow you to saturate the body and give it the necessary amount of energy without increasing the volume of portions, the expert explains. It is extremely difficult to provide all the needs of the people in a cold climate due to plant products.

On the other hand, veganism also has “social” disadvantages. “To one degree or another, a person is in social isolation, having difficulty with a variety of foods in everyday life,” says Igor Stepanyukov. “In addition, products for a balanced diet, observation by a nutritionist and continuous monitoring of laboratory blood parameters require significant costs.”

In a word, in modern conditions, vegan diet can not be considered the optimal style of diet, the expert concludes.

From the author: Most doctors and scientists tend to believe that the most useful it makes sense to combine plant and animal products. This way you can reap the benefits of veganism by avoiding amino acid deficiencies, certain vitamins and other disadvantages of a purely plant-based diet.

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