Health risks of a vegan diet

Why the problem occurs?

Although some people may thrive on a vegan or plant-based diet, it should be noted that it is considered an extreme diet because of how many foods it excludes, as well as the potential for nutritional deficiencies.

Health effects of a vegan diet

Leaky gut

Since a vegan diet excludes all forms of animal protein including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, people following a vegan diet often turn to legumes as a plant-based protein source. Anti-nutrients from legumes have the property to inhibit the absorption of important macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. The anti-nutrients present in legumes is lectins and phytates which focus on the prevention of any kind of healthy absorption. This increases intestinal permeability and leads to a leaky gut.

Soy proteins

Soy is commonly found in a vegan diet, including tofu, soy milk, and soy-based processed foods sold as meat substitutes.  Soy protein contains phytates, also known as antinutrients. Phytoestrogens are chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants and have estrogen-like properties that bind to estrogen receptors in your body, phytoestrogens found in all forms of soy. There is also some concern that soy intake may affect a person’s thyroid function.


For vegans who eliminate meat, anemia can be due to an iron deficiency, anemia can also be caused by vitamin B12 deficiency. It because plant foods contain a form of iron, it is called non-heme iron and it is much less absorbable by the body.

Over consuming Carbohydrate

Veganism has become widely known as a high-carb diet. When you give up meat and dairy, you start eating more grains, legumes, fruits, etc., and these foods are naturally higher in carbs than, say, chicken or fish. Over-consuming carbohydrates can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, blood sugar dysregulation, and other troublesome symptoms.

Risk of disordered eating

Orthorexia is a type of eating disorder that is defined by an over-fixation of healthy eating patterns. It can result in over-restriction, obsession, and other serious eating disorders. Vegans and vegetarians tended to display more orthorexic eating patterns, and most eating disorder specialists do not recommend restrictive diets such as veganism or vegetarianism for people trying to recover from an eating disorder such as orthorexia.