Before I actually get into the “meat” of it here, I want to start off with a disclaimer. When I say “it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle,” I’m not talking about one of connotations that surrounds the all out, total hippy, vegan world. I put honey in my tea, my car has leather seats, and I’m not ashamed of that. There are animals on our planet, and they can be used for resources, I’m not ignorant to that. The difference here is that I don’t think going vegan for 3 months to detox, or for a diet, or as a bet, is going to help anyone. In fact, I think it’s going to hurt more than it helps.
Temporary, highly restrictive, calorie tracking, food weighing, life manipulating diets are not sustainable. Here’s a not so fun statistic- 95% of people who go on a diet will regain the weight they lost in 1-5 years. Dieting, as a concept, is only meant to be temporary, so it shouldn’t be a shocker that the “results” are too. Trendy diets often lack essential nutrients your body needs, cutting out fats or carbs. They also take all of the fun out of eating, sure you can enjoy the challenge for a few days, maybe a week, but the headaches and hunger pains are usually not worth it. The biggest issue I have with dieting is that it’s the number one cause of eating disorders and disordered eating. People who diet are EIGHT times more likely to develop an eating disorder. Research estimates that 40-60% of highschool girls are dieting, and we interneralize these thinness standards around the age of 8.
This horrible trend founded in horrible social standards has equally horrible physical consequences. Loss of muscular strength and endurance, decreased oxygen utilization, thinning hair, loss of coordination, dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, fainting, weakness, and slowed heart rates… To name a few.
DIE(ting) is literally in the name…
But let’s shift gears a little bit. While being overweight can be equally dangerous, in many facets, to say the least, how do you lose weight without going on a diet? You guessed it!! Not only can a vegan diet promote weight loss, but it also reduces your risk of developing cancer. Vegan proteins are lower in lipids (that’s the white stuff you see in bacon and steak, i.e. fat), and can reduce your symptoms and risks of breast and prostate cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. If you don’t believe me, you can fact check me in this article published here.
Wait, Emma, my lifestyle is super active (or at least I want it to be), will a vegan diet still give me all of the energy I need to live the life I love? You guessed it again, of course it will!! As a vegan personal trainer and triathlete, I can personally attest to it, but just so you can trust I’m right, let’s look at some more facts. According to the American Dietetic Association, “vegan diets are nutritionally adequate for all stages of life… AND for athletes.” The standard American diet, phenomenally nicknamed SAD, is mostly processed foods and meat. SAD lacks a lot of the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that we need, which vegans source from whole, plant based foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses anecdotal evidence showing that vegan endurance athletes outperformed their omnivorous counterparts. The first man to finish a marathon in less than 2.5 hours was a vegan. Kendrick Farris, the American Olympic weightlifter and gold medalist, is 100% vegan. Tennis player Venus Williams, MMA fighter Nate Diaz, and NFL Patriots superstar Tom Brady are all vegan as well.
It’s just a plus that this lifestyle also puts you at lower risk of cancer and death from heart disease, and lowers your LDL cholesterol levels, blood pressure, rates of type 2 diabetes and BMI. You can be vegan and be (crazy) athletic. You can be vegan and build muscle. You can be vegan and lose weight.