How Long Can You Stay On a Vegan Diet?

Veganism has exploded in popularity over the last 10 years and has become more widely adopted especially across the Western world. With the ever increasing uptake comes the inevitable attrition as some decide it’s not for them. But how long can you stay on a vegan diet and remain healthy? Let’s investigate …

How Long Can You Stay On a Vegan Diet?

You can stay on a vegan diet for the rest of your life. There is no reason why the switch to veganism cannot be permanent. You just need to be aware of your body’s nutritional needs and eat mostly fresh vegetables and fruit, avoiding too much vegan junk food.

Neanderthals training a woolly mammoth.

Some of us on this planet are living in a time where we’re able to choose which kind of food passes our lips. No longer are we in survival mode, as were our ancestors. We’re not forced to eat whatever comes our way to stay alive.

With that choice comes responsibility. With that choice come consequences.

Simply put, we can choose to buy food which necessitates the exploitation of animals or we can choose to reject that. Vegans choose to reject this status quo and consume only plant-based food – no animal protein.

In doing so, our buying choices are not responsible for creating the demand in the market for products which have required animals to be abused and/or killed in order to end up on the supermarket shelves.

Some say it’s privilege which allows us to make this choice (I’m not going down the white privilege route today!) while others argue it’s simply an evolution of the human species.

Whatever your take on it, there’s no doubt more and more of us are choosing compassion over death and suffering. Veganism is on the rise and it’s not going away any time soon.

But for the movement to survive long term we have to be sure what we’re doing is not making us sick. We have to know this is a lifestyle we can pursue into our old age without our health suffering as a result.

Ignore The Self-Appointed Nutritionists

Bearded, grey haired, learned looking man.

I find it hilarious that often, when you reveal to people you’re vegan, they immediately become an amateur nutritionist! The inevitable questions then follow …

  • Where do you get your protein?
  • What about your calcium levels?
  • Do you get enough iron in your diet?
  • Where do you get your omega 3s?
  • What about vitamin B12?

Once I was even asked, in all seriousness, if I eat lettuce and grass exclusively! Such is the depth of ignorance in so many. She started banging on about complete protein sources and vitamin B12.

I honestly had no idea Nikki in accounts was such an expert in human nutrition 🙂

The bottom line is, veganism (done right) is a very healthy option and a lifestyle you can follow until you’re old and grey. Medical conditions notwithstanding, there’s no reason why you should be lacking any nutrients on a well planned vegan diet.

A Balanced Vegan Diet Is Good For Life

Smiling toddler jumping out of a clothes basket.

The UK NHS has it in black and white on their website…

“Plant-based diets are becoming more popular and if they are well planned, can support healthy living at every age and life-stage.” [1]

If you need proof, there are plenty of examples of long-lived vegans. People who’ve embraced veganism for decades. At this point I always think of a guy on Twitter who goes by the handle ‘MegaVegan’.

You can look him up if tweeting is your thing.

Here’s a man who’s been vegan since he was 5 years old. He’s now 66 (at the time of writing) and he’s still waiting for the decades of protein deficiency to “show up any day now” 🙂

… he is about as healthy as they come. From his profile, he is a leading strength & balance athlete, a BUPA dietetics consultant and a vegan dietician.

Proof indeed that you can stay on a vegan diet your whole life and thrive on it. I know my health improved greatly after going vegan. You can just feel it.

It’s like a veil is lifted from your eyes. The mist clears and all of a sudden you become more aware of your body, what you’re putting in it and how your body responds to that input.

I mean … I’m fitter than many who are half my age and I’m not a health nut. I just try to eat healthy more often than not. Try to get some exercise in most days (even if it’s just cycling to the shops!) and ensure I supplement with the essentials my body needs.

Seem to be doing ok so far … ask me in 30 years 🙂

The Biggest Reason Vegans Quit

Woman blowing her nose.

Many will likely disagree with me on this but the common thread running through most of the ex-vegan stories is a deterioration in health.

You see headlines like “Veganism Nearly Killed Me” or “Chronic Illness Made Me Quit My Vegan Diet”. There are endless reports and articles out there following themes like this.

If you don’t give your body what is needed it has a way of telling you what is lacking. You will start to crave the foods that are high in the nutrients it is looking for. If previously that was meat and dairy, then you will subconsciously lean back towards those food sources.

Food sources your body has known about and relied on for most of your life.

If you’re going to avoid the growing ranks of ex-vegans then you’ll need to ensure you’re getting all the nutrition a human needs. It’s not that difficult but it does take some effort.

Your health has to come first. There is absolutely no point making a stand against animal exploitation if it’s going to make you sick. Apart from anything else, it’s not the best advertisement for the vegan cause if illness is the result of your ethical choices.

I’ve previously been told to “mind your business” in making this point but I’m standing by my convictions on the issue. Yes of course it’s entirely up to you if you want to ignore your own health and eat vegan junk food all day.

Just don’t be surprised when you fall ill and don’t be surprised if those who are maybe toying with the idea of going vegan are put off by the state they find you in.

If you want to remain vegan long term, focus on your nutrition.

Veganism Is On An Unstoppable Rise

Young seedlings reaching for the light.

I hope this article has helped you understand that a vegan diet can be followed for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to make the switch to plant-based and never too late to enjoy the benefits of doing so – health being just one.

Veganism is growing in popularity every day and as of this writing, we’re currently in the month of Veganuary where I’m seeing more and more curious souls dipping their toes into this compassionate lifestyle.

If you’re considering making the change to veganism for whatever reason please know it’s one of the best decisions you can make this year … and next year … and the year after.

Yes, you can stay on a vegan diet for the rest of your days. The animals will thank you for it!

 

If you enjoyed this article please comment and share. Your thoughts are welcome below …

 

Thanks for reading!

Rohan.


 

[1] – NHS. Royal United Hospitals Bath. PDF. Plant based, Vegetarian and vegan diets: How to get the best nutrition. https://ruh.nhs.uk

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