Disclaimer alert - I would like to say from the start that I have nothing against the Vegan diet. As long as individuals are evidence based and respect others life choices then we shall always get along. Now, let us get into this.
Firstly, I'd like to define the word "healthy". To me "healthy" means the body is in homeostatis, that is to be stable and without disease, illness or other potential ailments. When concerned with nutritiong, to be able to be "healthy" one must consume the correct amount of Calories, Macro-nutrients & Micro-nutrients.
So, is Veganism healthier than Omnivourism? No, but there are many factors that we need to get in check before this becomes true. So, let us go through the nutritional heirarchy and discuss each dietary choice.
Calories - First up we have calories. A calorie is a measurement of energy. Each dietary choice still relies on the principle of calorie intake. We know that to lose weight we must be in a caloric deficit, and if we want to gain weight then we must be in a caloric surplus. Veganism has achieved the status of being the best weight loss programme. However, we know any diet which abides to a true caloric deficit will achieve weight loss. So under the headline of "calories" both diets are the same.
Macro-nutrients - The 3 macro-nutrients are Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates. Both vegan and omnivours will consume exactly the sWant to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. ame macro-nutrients - veganism doesn't produce a fourth "super" macro-nutrient. If an individual wants to build muscle they need to consume 1.8-3 grams of protein per kilo of body-weight. So for a someone who weighs 70kg, that'll mean consuming between 130-210 grams of protein (amounts vary depending training volume/frequency, age and training goal). That is a lot of protein and in my experience with helping vegans with their nutrition usually not achieveable.
I am also backed up by research. A study be Vancore D, et all - evaluated the effects of diets on body composition, metabolic parameters and serum oxidative status. The study showed significant decrease in muscle mass index and lean body mass in the vega group compared to the vegetarian and meat-eater group. It also showed that a restrictive vegan dit also "could not prevent the onset of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases".
In conclusion, it comes down to the needs of the individual. Both diets of course include the same macro-nutrients, however it can be strongly argued that the vegan diet makes it difficult for individuals to consume enough protein, and a good amino acid profile.
Micro-nutrients - Micro-nutrients are all your minerals and vitamins. I shall say from the start that one positive of following the vegan diet (in my experience) is people become far more "health" conscious. That is to say, they will consume (in general) a wider variety of vegetable (and if they don't then they really are idiots). It may be wrong to say, but people who follow a meat-eating diet may not be (in general) as "health" conscious and won't eat as varied green stuff. However, this is not the diets fault - but the individual. A meat-eater can eat just as much vegetables as the vegan if they choose to (it is silly if they aren't). However, the vegan will find it hard to consume the needed micro-nutrients they need for "health". Vitamins B12, Calcium & Omega - 3 are all nutrients that lack from vegan foods. So, like protein, they will need to supplement their diet with these nutrients to ensure "health" is achieved.
So in conclusion you can be healthy if you're an omnivour or if you are a vegan. I would never recommend going vegan - the research has shown it is not superior to eating meat for health or for athletic development as long as the meat-eater considers the other factors of nutrition (like consuming enough micro-nutrients from vegetables and their meat sources are of a good quality).
If somebody wants to become vegan for animal rights reasons then absolutely fair enough...good for them (as long as they don't force others to do the same). But if they want to go vegan for health reasons, I disagree!
If you have any questions regarding this topic or anything else then please get in touch!