PCRM Clinical Research: Vegan Diet Passes Taste Test
© 2001, PHOTODISC
As a follow-up to PCRM's menstrual pain and PMS study, Neal Barnard, M.D., and colleagues evaluated the acceptability of the vegan diet, which all participants were required to follow. The findings, published in the November-December 2000 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education, confirmed that a vegan diet, free of meat, dairy products, and eggs, was just as acceptable as their usual diet.
Although many physicians are reluctant to prescribe a vegan diet for their patients for fear it is too restrictive, many people who try it are sold for life. Several factors appear to play a role.
First of all, ordinary, low-cal diets simply require the dieter to eat smaller, blander portions of what they have been eating their whole lives. Eating a bit of chicken or fish with a sprinkling of plain vegetables on the side is unappealing to most people. Vegan menus, on the other hand, feature ample portions and fresh tastes.
Secondly, vegan diets get results. For all of their efforts in counting calories and weighing food items, low-cal dieters see minimal results in weight loss and cholesterol lowering, and this often causes discouragement, which easily leads them back to high-fat foods.
Lastly, social support makes a difference. Encouraging family members both young and old to join the vegan diet (not possible on most "fad" diets), attending local vegetarian society events or vegan cooking classes, and becoming educated about the endless health benefits of going vegan, all help bolster success.
"When it comes to significant diet changes, it appears the more you require, the more people are willing to make the change, especially when they see positive results quickly and feel better than before," says Dr. Barnard. Fran, a participant in the study, noted, "When you switch to a vegan diet, grocery shopping is easy; you simply sidestep the meat and dairy aisles. The new foods you discover are a pleasure to eat."
The beauty of a vegan diet is its versatility. When the focus moves away from animal products to the endless creations that can be made from vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and legumes—with no restriction on quantity—dieters breathe a sigh of relief and lose weight effortlessly.