The vegan diet and the Mediterranean diet have many similarities. Both have potential health benefits, as well as plenty of scientific research supporting them as nutritional options for most people. But there are also some key differences, and if you have certain medical conditions or dietary requirements, you may want to talk to your doctor before trying any of these diets.
The Mediterranean diet and vegan diet Both diets are based mainly on plant foods, and you can combine both diets vegan mediterranean diet, which follows the basic principles of both. The Mediterranean diet, however, leaves more room for consumption of animal products with an emphasis on fatty fish, lean meats and eggs rather than red meat. Vegan diet completely plant-basedmany vegans rely on supplements to get certain nutrients they may be missing out on by not eating animal products.
“Both diets are quite different, and I wouldn’t say one is better than the other,” he says Roxana Ehsani (opens in a new tab), a registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “When done right, both diets can be nutritious.”
Roxana Ehsani is a certified sports nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, Food and Exercise Science from Virginia Tech and a Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Pittsburgh.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet can be great for heart health, weight loss, and is generally considered a more sustainable way of eating than a conventional Western diet.
“A vegan diet is becoming increasingly popular, which is a diet that excludes all animal products and dairy products, such as cheese, yogurt or eggs, and is strictly plant-based,” says Ehsani. “You can eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, soy products like tofu, plant-based milk options like almond milk, grains, seeds, legumes like beans and lentils.”
We also spoke with Dr. Lee, a physician and spokesperson Dr Fox Online Pharmacy (opens in a new tab), who recommends reading the label to find out what’s vegan and what’s not. “Vegans can eat dark chocolate. You can eat cookies – read the labels – you need to avoid the ones that contain animal fats. They can eat chips if they have been made without animal flavorings. It’s about reading the label and knowing what you’re eating,” she says.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
According to Ehsani, the Mediterranean diet is another great option for cardiovascular health. “The Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy diet and has been widely studied and rated by US News & World Report as generally the best diet overall when it comes to sticking to a healthy eating plan,” she says. “The Mediterranean diet consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, lean meats, seafood, legumes and nuts.”
Vegan diet: the pros
According to Dr. Lee, a vegan diet can be beneficial in reducing the number of diseases in those who follow it. “In general, a vegan diet is considered to be good for health because it is high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes,” she says. “Many health experts recommend that we increase our consumption of plant-based foods and reduce our consumption of red meat. Vegans tend to lead healthier lifestyles and have a lower risk of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.’
A Nutrients (opens in a new tab) A journal review tells us that a plant-based diet can reduce a patient’s risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. According to research conducted in Journal of Internal Medicine (opens in a new tab)further supporting the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Ehsani agrees that a vegan diet has many health benefits: “It’s low in saturated fat, which is good for heart health and reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes,” she says.
Mediterranean diet: advantages
Ehsani tells us that the Mediterranean diet has been associated with positive cardiometabolic outcomes. “Many studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduced risk factors for heart disease,” she says. “It is also associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, a reduced risk of depression and diabetes, and can even be followed by a person with diabetes as it can help keep their blood under control.”
One way the Mediterranean diet does this is by promoting sustainable weight loss. Studying in Nutrients (opens in a new tab) The journal suggests that the Mediterranean diet can promote effective weight loss due to its emphasis on lean protein and high-fiber foods. These foods are filling, which can help maintain a healthy weight because they make us feel full. This feeling of satiety can also help maintain an overall calorie deficit, as research in Annual Nutrition Review (opens in a new tab) magazine found that in adults aged 55-75, the diet was particularly effective at reducing belly fat.
Review in Art American Journal of Medicine (opens in a new tab) also shows that the Mediterranean diet is lower in saturated fat than the average American diet and suggests that it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes may have a positive effect on cardiometabolic risk, as seen in Annual Nutrition Review (opens in a new tab) article, further supporting the Mediterranean diet as a healthy option.
Dr. Lee explains that the high levels of antioxidants in the Mediterranean diet can be beneficial for health. “It has a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. They contain antioxidants that neutralize negatively charged particles known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS are constantly produced in the body during oxidation. They are potentially dangerous because they can damage DNA, leading to diseases such as cancer, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes or dementia,” she says.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables contain high concentrations of antioxidants that are vital for maintaining human health. Those following a Mediterranean diet have been shown to have reduced levels of oxidative and inflammatory markers.’
Vegan diet: cons
Vitamin B12 A deficiency is something that those following a vegetarian or vegan diet can be prone to, as B12 is a nutrient that we usually get from animal sources and cannot make ourselves. A supplement may be useful for those on a vegan diet. The average adult needs 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day.
Ehsani agrees that deficiency is a risk that comes with a vegan diet. “It can be difficult for some people on a vegan diet to get all the nutrients like protein and vitamin B12, for example, but it’s not impossible,” she says. “They just might need a little more time to prepare and plan their meals, especially when they’re out and about, sometimes it can be harder to find a lot of vegan options, like on every restaurant or fast food menu.”
Iron and calcium deficiencies are a particular concern on a vegan diet, and you should make sure you get enough of these essential micronutrients. The limited bioavailability of these minerals from plant sources means that most vegans must supplement or consume fortified foods to reduce the risk of developing a deficiency, as shown in a study conducted in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (opens in a new tab).
Mediterranean diet: cons
The main disadvantages of the Mediterranean diet are that it can be out of reach for people with low incomes and is time consuming when preparing all the foods from scratch. For example, extra virgin olive oil, which is an important component of the Mediterranean diet, commands a high price, especially for higher quality oils. Those with families or other commitments may find it difficult to produce foods suitable for the Mediterranean diet for every meal, but effective meal planning can help.
Dr. Lee adds that the Mediterranean diet can lead to unintended weight gain, and it may not be suitable for those who avoid alcohol. “Eating too much olive oil and nuts, even though they’re rich in healthy fats, means it’s easy to consume too many calories,” she says. “A moderate amount of red wine is recommended on the Mediterranean diet. However, for some it is not beneficial, as it can worsen liver disease.’
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide medical advice.