Is going vegan actually healthier than eating meat?

Is going vegan actually healthier than eating meat?

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The Netflix documentary "What the Health?" has people considering giving up meat forever. The documentary might go too far with claims that eating meat is effectively killing us, but people think the film raises good points. Others are quick to point out that vegan diets haven't been proven to be healthier than any other diet. Carnivores argue eating meat is fine—it's more about eating in moderation and sensibly. What do you think? 🍖

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Vegans swear by their diets because it is genuinely better than the vast majority of diets. Americans eat horribly, usually because they eat way too much meat and too many processed foods.

Committing to a vegan diet takes all those bad things away. It's easier to stick to a diet when you don't have to worry about the minutia of what you're eating. You just go for the vegetables instead.

A study found that vegans have a healthier gut microbiome than those who eat other diets. This is thanks to the greater levels of fiber found in vegan and vegetarian diets. Having a healthy gut microbiome is more important than most people realize. Microbiomes play a large role with chronic diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

The food we eat will shift the bacteria in our stomachs in particular ways. Vegan diets, which are high in fiber, promote a healthier microbiome which lowers the risk of chronic diseases. It just makes you generally healthier.

Another study found if people switched to a vegan diet, we could cut 8.1 million deaths a year. Switching to a plant-only diet would mitigate many chronic health issues plaguing the world today. Fewer people would have heart disease and cancer. Fewer people would be overweight and obese. Going vegan is just hands down healthier. 

Eating a vegan diet is healthier than the average American diet. But that's an extremely low bar. Americans eat horribly, so any kind of diet that includes more vegetables and less meat would be better. Vegan diets are the same as any other kind of fad diet in that it's a departure from how humans have eaten for millennia.

The biggest issue with vegan diets is it doesn't provide all the nutrients you would normally get from a balanced diet. The average vegan diet lacks iron, zinc, vitamin B12, calcium and other essential nutrients. It's possible to make up for these missing nutrients with supplements and careful planning but you could also just eat a little meat.

But the real problem with critics have with the vegan diet is how it's framed as the most natural, healthy way of eating. It's not. It's really just like any other diet. Nutritionists have yet to find proof that a vegan diet is better than other diets in the long-term. There are also concerns that vegan diets are not as environmentally friendly as many advocates make it out to be.

Making things worse, resources for vegan diets are often plagued by pseudoscientific ideas like cleanses or committing to only raw vegan food. And many of the studies linking eating red meat to negative health outcomes have been challenged in recent years.

Vegan diets are healthy but they're not the ultimate diet. Eat your meat, you'll be fine. 

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