A vegan diet comes with notable health benefits, but it can be very challenging to stick with over the long term.
It’s not necessarily breaking news that veganism is generally considered to be healthy. While plenty of people will debate the subtleties of various diets and what they mean for human health, following a vegan diet is sure to cut out plenty of things that can contribute negatively to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more. So, a study showing that eating a vegan diet is healthy isn’t something to put on the front of the newspaper. A new study, however, took a fresh approach to this kind of research and came away with some interesting findings. To uncover information that has been hard to get for previous researchers, this team took the approach of using twins to test the changes of implementing a vegan diet. Specifically, they were able to secure the help of 22 pairs of identical twins for the study, which wound up shining an interesting light on this topic.
One the 22 pairs of twins were enrolled in the study, the plan was fairly straightforward – one member of each set of twins would be placed on a vegan diet for eight weeks, while the other member of the twin set would eat a more traditional omnivore diet. The results would be tracked over a period of eight weeks before some tests would be performed, and data would be collected.
So, what happened? Perhaps not surprisingly, but interesting enough, the individuals practicing veganism lost more than four pounds more, on average, than those eating the omnivore diet. Likewise, there were some other important improvements, such as a significant drop in LDL cholesterol, as well as a lower fasting insulin level. With these results, it’s hard to argue that the health benefits a vegan diet can deliver for those who are able to adopt it.
The last sentence of the previous paragraph is where things get a little tricky. Yes, a vegan diet does have some notable health benefits, but it can be very challenging for many people to stick with it over the long term. In this same study, the people on the omnivore diet reported a much higher degree of satisfaction with their diet, even though they weren’t losing nearly as much weight or enjoying the other health benefits seen with the vegan diet. In fact, one participant dropped out of the study entirely due to the challenges of maintaining the vegan regime.
These kinds of reports can make it difficult for individuals to decide what they should do with the information. On the one hand, the health benefits of veganism are very appealing, yet at the same time, it’s obviously a difficult diet for many people to stick to over the long run. That’s not to say that no one can do it, of course, but it can be a tough adjustment for someone who is used to eating the diet of an omnivore. Taking the guidance of Dr. Christopher Gardner, who led the study and is a vegan, is a good place to start. Dr. Gardner suggests that people simply start by eating more plant-based foods, rather than trying to commit fully to a vegan plan right from the start.