Pros and Cons of Vegan, Vegetarian, and Omnivorous Diets

The Vegan Diet

A vegan diet consists entirely of vegetables and grains.  Vegans do not consume animal products or animal byproducts.  This means the don’t consume foods like steak, eggs, or milk in any form.

Pros

Vegans tend to be much thinner, have lower blood pressure, lower amounts of body fat, and have lower cholesterol.  A byproduct of those benefits is that they tend to have a lower risk of heart or cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  This can all be explained by their diets being rich in fiber, magnesium, potassium, and  anti-oxidants.

Cons

A vegan diet makes it hard to consume calcium, vitamin D, and protein leading to other health issues, like weak bones and muscles.  Because they also don’t consume red meat, their bodies tend to be low in iron.  All of these vitamins can be obtained from plants, but require strict monitoring to prevent health issues.

The largest concern for vegans is a deficiency of vitamin B12, which can only be consumed via meat, eggs, milk, large quantities of rice or soy, and supplements.  Insufficient B12 can lead to a cacophony of health issues including: dementia, forgetfulness, and loss of balance.

In a predominantly omnivorous society, it can be very hard to make or find vegan meals, especially when dining out.  Baking is very hard as well when you consider that most recipes require eggs, yeast, or milk.

The Vegetarian Diet

A vegetarian diet consists of all foods included in the vegan diet, but also include animal byproducts, such as milk and eggs.  This also includes yogurts and cheeses.

Pros

Vegetarians have the convenience of being able to easily find and make meals.  Almost all restaurants have a vegetarian option, and making food at home can be much simpler.  It’s much easier to bake with milk and eggs too.

All of the added benefits of being vegan tend to be true for being vegetarian as well.  They tend to be thinner with less body fat, have lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure – beit not as low as a vegan. The vitamin B12 issue is also not as much of a problem, since vegetarians can consume eggs and milk, great sources of the vitamin.

Cons

Vegetarians still must work for their iron, as milk and eggs contain very little of it.  They also tend to have larger amounts of fat on their bodies than vegans as a result of consuming high fat dairy products.

The Omnivorous Diet

This diet includes every food: meat, grain, eggs, milk, vegetables, fruit, and everything in between.  By definition omnivores can eat everything.  With great choice comes great responsibility.

Pros

Omnivores have the whole spectrum foods available to them, giving them more options.  This gives them access to all of the vitamins they need and allows them to target specific foods when they need are in need of specific vitamins.  Consuming meats gives them an added layer of variation to provide them with a full choice of nutrient sources ranging from fish for Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Beef products high in calcium and everything in between.

With great care, an omnivore can easily get every vitamin and mineral they need with relative ease.  If you’re short on iron for the day, just have some red meat.  It’s not hard or inconvenient to be able to eat just about anything, but eating right can be a challenge.

Cons

Omnivores tend to have diets extremely high in saturated fats, and as a general rule, the average person doesn’t do a very good job of regulating this diet.  Omnivores tend to be over weight, have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.  This leads to diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

With such a wide variety of choices, people tend to eat fatty, greasy food like McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, which don’t really have any health benefits, but do contribute quite nicely to the spare tire around their waist.  These foods also have the added benefit of making people feel fat and lazy, preventing them from exercising.

Conclusion

In my opinion the best diets are vegetarian and omnivorous.  If you don’t feel like you can control yourself, use a crutch like being vegetarian.  If you think you can control your diet and be responsible, you should stay omnivorous.

You won’t find what’s right until you try each one, so experiment.  Try a month with one diet and then switch.  Use which ever one makes you feel the best and stick to it.  Track your results and know what you’re gaining.  For me, being vegan is way to inconvenient, and I feel I’m responsible enough to eat meat in moderation.  I do go on vegetarian kicks every once and a while.  For instance I might have a vegetarian week just to challenge myself.

What are you? Vegan? Vegetarian? Omnivorous?  Tell me in the comments.

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