Vegan Diets Easy to Adopt, Study Finds
A vegan diet is not just healthy, it’s surprisingly easy, according to a new study led by PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D. This study of patients with diabetes, published in February’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association, shows that people can and do adapt to a vegan diet that dramatically improves their health.
In this 74-week study, 99 people with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to follow either a low-fat vegan diet or a diet based on American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommendations. The vegan diet dramatically cut consumption of cholesterol, fat, and saturated fat, and increased fiber intake, compared with the diet based on ADA guidelines. It also led to major improvements in participants’ weight and blood-sugar levels. But even with all those benefits, the diet was not difficult to follow. In fact, the vegan group felt less constrained than those in the ADA group.
The vegan group also reported a small but significant reduction in cravings for fatty foods at 22 weeks, compared with the group consuming an omnivorous diet. This finding contradicts the notion that individuals adopting vegan diets have continued cravings for excluded foods. In fact, the desire for fatty foods such as meat appeared to diminish. At 22 weeks, the vegan group was also slightly more satisfied with its diet overall, compared with the ADA group.
The study shows that even though a vegan diet elicits much more pronounced long-term nutritional changes than the ADA diet, it is actually just as easy—or perhaps even easier—to adapt to than a conventional diabetes diet.