FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Studies show more than 7 million Americans are vegetarians. Veganism is one of the strictest forms of plant-based dieting, but is it right for you?
No meat, no fish, no dairy, no eggs, no honey! Could you be a vegan?
Clinical Dietician at the University of Washington, Judy Simon, MS, RD, CD, CHES, says a vegan diet can be healthy, but not always.
"Some vegans don't eat many vegetables, so they may be eating processed grains, rice, crackers and breads," Simon told ABC30.
Other negatives: you might not get enough omega-3s. Nuts and chia seeds have some, but Simon says they only provide a fraction of what you get from fish like salmon. It's also more difficult to eat out if you're a vegan, you might have to pack your own food. Also pregnant women may not get enough vitamin D or calcium from a vegan diet.
"The fetus will actually take calcium from the mother, so if her intake is low anyways, it may not be sufficient enough for the baby," Simon told ABC30.
However, there are plenty of vegan pros: the plant-based diet can lower your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. People who eat vegan also have a lower body mass index.
"For many people it allows them to eat more fruits and vegetables," Simon told ABC30.
Recent research also shows vegan dieters had healthier guts than those who consumed meat.
Simon told ABC30, "We're finding that they have more of the healthy bacteria that can actually be heart-healthy and prevent heart disease."
So to vegan or not to vegan? It's a choice you'll have to make, with every bite you take.
The Vegetarian Resource Group, a nonprofit company, offers tips for eating and cooking vegan. You can learn more at www.VRG.org.
For more information, contact:
Judy Simon, MS, RD, CD, CHES
University of Washington
4245 Roosevelt Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105