Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, eggs, dairy and all other animal-derived ingredients. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.

A vegan diet includes all grains, beans, legumes, vegetables and fruits and the nearly infinite number of foods made by combining them.

Difference between Vegetarian and a Vegan -

Some people may disagree with the meaning of vegetarianism. The general interpretation is that a vegan will not consume any foods of animal origin, not even honey, while a vegetarian might consume eggs (ovo-vegetarian), or dairy (lacto-vegetarian).

The three main reasons people adopt veganism are -

1) Protecting AnimalsVegans do not consume or use dairy products or eggs even though doing so would not kill the animal. Part of the reason is a belief in the absolute right of animals to exist freely without human interference.

2) EnvironmentA vegan believes that producing food through animal farming is inefficient, because animal feed production takes up a lot of land, fertilizer, water, and other resources - resources that could be used for feeding humans.

3) HealthEating too much of animal fats (mainly red meats) and too much of animal proteins has been shown in studies to raise a person´s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and a number of other illnesses and conditions.

Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes contain no cholesterol and are low in fat, especially saturated fats. They are also high in fiber and other nutrients.

Advantages of Vegan Diet -

Vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fibre, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and phyto-chemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol. They may help lower blood pressure and increases anti-oxidant intake. But you should check for the salt and potassium content, as you’ll likely to get more potassium than most.

Disadvantages of Vegan Diet -

Nutritionally animal foods too have their benefits. They are excellent source of complete protein, containing all the amino acids that human body needs to develop and maintain muscles. They are also excellent source of heme iron (which is very readily absorbed by the body) and Vitamin B12. B12 is critical for life and isn't found in any amount in plants (except some types of algae), it is by far the most important nutrient that vegans must be concerned with. In fact, B12 deficiency is very common in vegans. Vegan diets are lower in vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. The EPIC- Oxford study suggested that vegans have an increased risk of bone fractures over meat eaters and vegetarians, likely because of lower dietary calcium intake.

Hence, eating a vegan diet may be good for health and may feature as a healthy diet. But that does not mean that one’s entire diet has to be on vegan to be in excellent health. We should focus on balanced nutritional plan rather than a particular diet plan.