Considering a Vegan Lifestyle: Exploring the Pros, Cons, and Key Considerations

As more people begin to seek sustainable and healthy choices in their daily lives, considering a vegan lifestyle has gained popularity.

11 min read


Considering a Vegan Lifestyle: Exploring the Pros, Cons, and Key Considerations

As more people begin to seek sustainable and healthy choices in their daily lives, considering a vegan lifestyle has gained popularity. The decision to adopt a vegan or plant-based lifestyle involves careful consideration of its pros and cons, and the steps necessary to make this change. As someone who made this decision over 8 years ago, I am happy to share my experience, in hopes of shedding more light on each pro and con to help you decide if going vegan is right for you.


My Story

My journey in becoming vegan or, more accurately, plant-based started with a client. I had recently moved to California and was working at a gym as a personal trainer. One of my clients was considering going vegan and asked what I thought of the idea. At the time I didn’t know much about veganism, aside from abstaining from eating animal products, a major staple of my current diet. I didn’t want to recommend something that I hadn’t tested myself, so I decided to try it for 30 days and report back. I haven’t looked back since.

I felt so incredible during and after those 30 days that I have now been vegan for 8 years. I had more energy, I was recovering faster from my workouts, and my digestion improved tremendously. My tummy no longer felt bloated or heavy after each meal, something I didn’t even realize was a problem until after it went away. Before my diet change, I was eating a traditional trainer diet of fruits, vegetables, chicken, turkey, occasional red meat, and whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. My diet was already healthier than most. Despite the fact that I was already eating well, this diet change proved that there was a better way for me. I became hooked on the vegan diet because of how drastically it changed the way I felt.

I admit I haven’t been a perfect vegan. It took me a while to learn all the ins and outs of a vegan lifestyle. I did not know honey was a no-no, and that vegans also swear off leather, wool, suede, etc. In learning how passionate vegans are about their cause, it feels more accurate to call myself plant-based. I primarily focus on eating vegan and do my best to live vegan, but it is not my primary focus.

I experience a lot of health benefits and enjoy knowing my lifestyle has a positive impact on the earth and animals’ lives. However, there are cons to be aware of and consider, as well. Read on to learn both sides and what to look out for if you decide to try it for yourself.


The Pros


A plant-based diet has been shown to lower a person’s risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer, and reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic disease.(1) In a twin study based out of Stanford, twins following a vegan diet had lower LDL-C 9 (bad cholesterol) levels, experienced a 20% drop in fasting insulin levels, and lost 4.2 more pounds compared to their twins who consumed an omnivore diet for the same amount of time.(2) This study was recently made into a documentary on Netflix called You Are What You Eat. Check it out if you want to learn more.

Studies have also shown that a vegan diet may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) due to the high amounts of vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fiber consumed.(3) Hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are all risk factors for AD, and all can be improved with a vegan diet. It is important to supplement the missing nutrients for a vegan diet as deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, and DHA are linked to a higher risk of AD.(3) 

Though it may not look like it now, I have struggled with my weight for a long time. After going vegan, it was a lot easier for me to maintain a healthy weight. I didn’t feel stuffed after meals and didn’t feel like I was limiting my food intake. This was a big win for me as I felt like I could finally move away from tracking everything I ate, which wasn’t great for my mental health.


Long Life

As a gerontologist I am personally fascinated with aging and how we can live longer, healthy lives. Throughout my studies, I learned about the Blue Zones, communities around the world that have the highest percentage of centenarians (individuals over 100 years old). Though nutrition is only one of the Power 9, the collection of healthy habits all Blue Zones share, the common characteristic is plant-based. Though some of the areas do consume meat and fish, both are consumed much less frequently, a few times a month rather than a typical omnivore diet which consumes meat daily.

I was already eating a plant-based diet when I learned about the longevity benefit. This boosted my belief that I was doing something good for myself. If going all in on veganism feels too overwhelming, start by simply reducing your meat consumption. Pick a meal a day and make it plant-based, then bump that up to two meals, gradually progressing to fully plant based.


Ethical Treatment of Animals

Though animal rights were not my reason for choosing a vegan diet, it is a nice bonus. I ate meat for over 20 years of my life and never put much thought into the treatment of animals. Seeing videos of cows and pigs acting no differently from our chosen pets, cats and dogs, can be a deciding factor in choosing to give up meat. If you are someone who cares deeply about animal rights this may be the right choice for you. As someone who had loved meat for over 20 years, I can say that I don’t miss it. You can do it too.



Our food system is responsible for 70% of the world’s freshwater use and 78% of the freshwater pollution.(4) Vegan and vegetarian diets have been shown to have substantially lower GHG emissions, land use, and water use compared to diets that include meat.(4) When I first went vegan, I dove a little deeper into the environmental impact. It was my main motivation at the time as I had yet to learn a lot about the health benefits. Though any diet impacts the environment, a vegan diet resulted in approximately 75% less land use, 54% less water use, and 66% less biodiversity loss. The World Resource Institute reports that only about 37% of the crops grown are used for direct food consumption.(5) Most of the crops are used in industry to create biofuels, soap, textiles, and pharmaceuticals and to feed livestock.(5) Shifting to a more plant-based diet would enable a reduction in the amount of total cropland used, avoiding further deforestation and potentially freeing up some land for ecosystem restoration. If you care about the planet, eating a more plant-based diet is a nice way to start giving back.


The Cons

Nutritional Challenges

Certain nutrients are harder to come by in a plant-based diet. Namely, B12, vitamin D, iron, zinc, and calcium. The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are mainly present in fish and seafood, therefore plant-based diets risk inadequate amounts of both.(6)

This may seem like a long list, but it is important to note that meat-based diets are also at risk of inadequate amounts of fiber, PUFA, ALA, vitamin D, E, calcium, and magnesium.(6)

The moral of the story is nutrient deficiencies occur across all types of diets and can be impacted by genetics. It may feel overwhelming to consider what supplements are necessary but in my personal experience a little research can help you find simple solutions. For example, use a protein powder that also includes nutrients a vegan diet often lacks, or seek out atypical foods like algae from healthy food stores or online.

Speaking to a registered dietician can help you decipher what is missing from your diet, regardless of whether you choose a plant-based or meat-based diet.


Social Challenges

In all honesty, this may be the hardest con to deal with. Due to the growth in popularity of a vegan diet, it has gotten better over the eight years that I have been plant-based; however, it can still prove difficult to eat socially. Events like weddings may not have a vegan option, or the vegetarian options often contain dairy. Eating out is similar. You may have to get comfortable ordering sides rather than a standard entrée.

I’ve experienced it all, from having to eat dairy at a wedding to ordering only sides. All the while getting weird looks from friends and family members who didn’t understand. None of this was particularly hard for me, as simply trying to eat healthily at many restaurants requires ordering sides or small plates instead of entrées anyway. The judgment of friends and family can be tough, but if you do decide to change to a vegan lifestyle remind yourself of the benefits above. Plus, you can always follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time you are plant-based and the 20% you are not can be spent with those who give you the most grief.



I live in California, specifically Los Angeles, where there is no shortage of vegan options. There may be too many options, as eating healthy vegan food is probably just as challenging as non-vegan options, with vegan bakeries, vegan pizza, and vegan fried everything. Oreos are vegan, I rest my case.

However, if you live in a smaller town or city that does not have vegan restaurants or a large variety of grocery stores, making the change to a vegan lifestyle can seem impossible. Luckily there are more and more online resources available for healthy vegan food. If you are a bargain shopper like I am, who shops at three different grocery stores to get the best price per item – then you may want to also check out plant-based on a budget. This website teaches you how to shop for bulk items and make simple, easy vegan meals that do not skimp on flavor.


Key Considerations

Talk to a Registered Dietician

Though I found it quite easy to make the switch to a plant-based diet, if you have any dietary allergies or sensitivities it may prove to be much more difficult. I had basic nutrition knowledge through my fitness training and studies which helped me to ensure I was hitting my nutritional needs, especially for someone as active as I am. However, I always recommend talking to a registered dietician to ensure that you are getting the correct nutrients for your body and avoiding foods that can cause inflammation.


You Can Still Eat Unhealthy on a Vegan Diet

I said it once before, Oreos are vegan. Many foods are vegan but not necessarily a healthy choice. It is important to still consider both your macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) and your micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), to ensure you are consuming healthy proportions of each. If you are eating highly processed carbs and not focusing on whole foods, like vegetables, fruit, and legumes, you won’t magically receive the amazing health benefits just because you are not eating meat. Prioritize whole foods, especially fruits, and vegetables, whether you choose to continue eating meat or not.


Aesthetic Goals? You Still Need to Figure Out Your Macros

How do you get your protein? This is the most common question you will get if you choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle. It can get quite annoying, but it also demonstrates the lack of knowledge the general population has about nutrition. I am happy to answer this question as many times as necessary if it can help people make better choices for their health.

The truth is that hitting your daily protein goals is easy on a vegan diet. Seitan, beans, lentils, peas, and tofu are all great sources of plant-based protein. Protein should take up about 10-35% of your dietary intake. If you are quite active and looking to build strength, the percentage should be closer to 25-35% of your dietary intake. It is recommended for strength athletes to consume about 1.8 – 2.7 g/kg of body weight to maintain and build strength.

A vegan diet is not a magic pill. You still must be mindful of what you are consuming. If you have aesthetic goals, knowing your macronutrient breakdown will be helpful. I have been able to build muscle, compete in triathlons, and improve my fitness level on a vegan diet. I encourage you to look up the amazing plant-based athletes who continue to demonstrate that meat is not a requirement for high performance.


Final Consideration

There is a lot to consider when choosing to make a major change to your diet. We are habitual creatures and making changes involving food is difficult. I hope that this blog gives you a starting point. Maybe you decide to simply add more vegetables to your daily meals or make one day a week fully vegan. Remember the Blue Zones, they eat mostly plant-based but do enjoy some meat from time to time. Though I have found incredible health from eating this way, you may respond differently or live in an area without the resources I have. Know that the option to be healthy and perform at your highest fitness level on a vegan diet is there. We could all benefit from eating more plants.


1. Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente journal, 17(2), 61–66. Accessed 16 January 2024.
2. Stanford Medicine. (2023, November 30). Twin research indicates that a vegan diet improves cardiovascular health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2023 from Accessed 16 January 2024.
3. Katonova, A., Sheardova, K., Amlerova, J., Angelucci, F., & Hort, J. (2022). Effect of a Vegan Diet on Alzheimer's Disease. International journal of molecular sciences, 23(23), 14924. Accessed 16 January 2024.
4. Blue Zones (2023. History of Blue Zones. Accessed 16 January 2024.
5. Sloat, L., Ray, D., Garcia, A., Cassidy, E., & Hanson, C. (2022, December 20). The World Is Growing More Crops-but Not for Food. World Resource Institute. Accessed 16 January 2024.
6. Neufingerl, N., & Eilander, A. (2021). Nutrient Intake and Status in Adults Consuming Plant-Based Diets Compared to Meat-Eaters: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 14(1), 29. Accessed 16 January 2024.


Vegan Lifestyle Infographic

Vegan Lifestyle Infographic


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