Veganism: Should We Follow Jay Z and Beyoncé?

By Jamie Weissman on December 5, 2013

On Dec. 3, Jay Z took to his website to announce that he and Beyoncé would embark on a 22-day challenge to eat completely vegan. In other words, the duo will steer clear of any animal or dairy products for what he referred to as a “spiritual and physical cleanse.” Spiritual or not, veganism has many costs and benefits.

Veganism is a strict vegetarian diet initially popularized by both hippies and hipsters. Today, there are approximately one million Vegans in the United States.

Though it appears the diet is working for many people, the number of Vegans does not make even a dent in the country’s population. That could be due to the potential health risks of the diet. According to AARP.org’s “9 Pros and Cons of Going Vegan,” studies have shown vegan diets do not contain vitamin B12, an essential nutrient.

Courtesy of: Polymic.com

“Vegan diets may be low in calcium and vitamin D although there are vegan sources of these nutrients,” said Reed Mangels, a nutrition adviser for The Vegetarian Resource Group.

The apparent lack of nutrients in a vegan diet disproves the idea that a vegan diet will make a person healthier. According to the article, “there has to be a balance of diet, exercise and proper fitness regime.”

“A person might believe that by being vegan they are making themselves healthier. There are no good data of which I am aware proving that simply being vegan as an isolated behavior improves health,” Michael Applebaum, a physician and president of FitnessMed inc., said.

Though some feel a vegan diet does not promote a healthy lifestyle, there are still benefits to taking up the diet. For example, by going vegan you are decreasing your antioxidant intake. Antioxidants are substances that help prevent or delay cell damage. Vegan eating usually increases intake of wholesome foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Having these foods in your diet is “ a great opportunity to get plentiful antioxidants, dietary fiber, and vitamins and minerals,” said Paragi Mehta, a registered dietitian and creator of healthfulfilling.com.

Becoming vegan has benefits beyond physical health, too. According to “9 Pros and Cons of Going Vegan,” the diet can promote greater self-control due to the necessary commitment and dedication it requires.

“The self-control needed to eat in a vegan way can be extended to other behaviors requiring self-control, commitment, and dedication,” Applebaum said.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé may have only committed to veganism for 22 days, but many Americans have committed to it for a lifetime. Though the odds are fans will likely follow the couple on their “spiritual journey”, it is important to remember that it is more than a trend: it is a lifestyle.

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