About 10 years ago, my best friend Katie decided to try Veganuary. That meant giving up meat, seafood, dairy and any other ingredient that comes from an animal for the month of January.Of course, I had questions. Did she know that vegan meant no more pizza? Are oreos vegan? And did this mean I can have her leather boots? Katie’s 30-day trial turned into a lifestyle, and my BFF is still vegan today.People decide to go vegan for many reasons, including personal health and ethics. If you’re thinking about adopting a vegan lifestyle, here are more details on the pros and cons of veganism.What is a vegan diet?The vegan diet is plant-based and includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, beans and nuts. People who follow a strict vegan way of eating don’t consume any animals or animal source foods including: EggsDairy productsHoney Overall, plant-based foods tend to be low in calories and saturated fats and high in fiber, minerals and vitamins.What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?Think of the vegan diet like a teacher and the vegetarian diet like a substitute teacher: One is a little more lax than the other one. Vegetarian and vegan diets both avoid meat, game, poultry, shellfish and fish. But there are different types of vegetarian diets that allow animal source foods and/or fish. For example, a lacto-ovo vegetarian will still eat dairy and egg products.Health benefits of being veganNumerous studies link a healthy vegan diet to reduced risk for serious health conditions. These include: Type 2 diabetesCardiovascular diseaseHeart diseaseCancer HypertensionNon-alcoholic fatty liver disease A vegan diet may also lead to lower LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol) and weight loss. For example, in one recent study involving identical twins, the twin who ate a healthy vegan diet for eight weeks had a 15% drop in LDL levels and a 3% drop in body weight compared to the sibling who ate a healthy omnivorous diet of meat and vegetables. A global shift to a completely vegan diet could save an estimated 129 million lives and trillions of dollars in healthcare costs by 2050, according to research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. But like all lifestyle choices, a vegan diet may not be right for some people. Research shows the dietary restrictions of a vegan diet can contribute to some health issues, including a higher risk for bone fracture, bleeding issues and poor fetal outcomes in pregnant women. This can happen because important vitamins and minerals, including B12, calcium and vitamin D come from meat and dairy products. People following a vegan diet must be proactive to get the right amount of those nutrients from other sources, including fortified foods and supplements. Read: Curious About Calcium? >> Protein deficiency, which can cause brittle hair, fatigue and muscle weakness, is also a concern when following a vegan diet. Vegan proteins include soy, legumes, nuts and seeds. So, if you’re eating vegan, be sure to calculate how

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