Is a Vegan Diet Healthy? What I Found Out After 6 Years of Being Vegan

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Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by HealthLabs.com. All opinions are 100% my own.

Is a vegan diet healthy? This is a question I often hear both from people who have never considered going vegan and from those who have been vegan for some time. I went vegan six years ago, and while I’ve always believed that following a vegan diet is the healthiest choice for me, I recently decided to find out for sure by taking a medical test. Here’s what I found out.

Is a vegan diet healthy? What I found out after 6 years of being vegan.

I’ve never had any huge problems with my health – for that I have to thank a combination of genetics, active lifestyle and, well, pure luck. Yet six years ago as a marathon runner, I made a switch to a plant-based/vegan diet in an effort to improve my athletic endurance and the ability to recover quicker after long workouts.

As the years passed, veganism became much more than just a diet for me. I learned about the plight of animals mass-bred for human consumption, and about the devastating impact of animal agriculture on our environment.

I also found out that animals are not the only victims of animal agriculture – people who work in the meat processing industry often aren’t paid fair wages, often have limited access to medical treatment, or are forced to work in inhumane conditions.

The more I learned, the more reasons to be vegan I found.

From the health perspective, I was convinced that a vegan diet can be the healthiest choice as long as a few key points are met – eating a large variety of mostly plant-based, minimally processed foods; keeping your use of cooking oils low; supplementing with vitamins B12 and D; making sure to get plenty of calories to meet the demands of one’s lifestyle.

Yet somewhere deep inside, every now and then I had doubts that I was getting everything I needed. There were periods in my vegan life when I ate too much processed foods and not enough fresh vegetables. Not getting enough sleep, stressing about work, and barely devoting any time to self-care were also taking a toll on my wellbeing.

On top of that, I had my daughter 18 months ago, and went through a lot of stress adjusting to my new life with a newborn.

I breastfed my daughter up until just recently. This part alone means that for the past 27 months a lot of the nutrients I was getting from my diet did not stick around to nourish me. Instead, they were passed to another human (even if it’s an adorable human who I love to pieces).

All of this made me wonder how healthy I still was as a vegan.

I’ve heard about various blood tests that people could take to find out if they had any nutritional deficiencies. Yet this seemed complicated, and I definitely didn’t feel like dealing with all the bills that my health insurance would inevitably send me.

Then a couple months ago, I found out about a simple blood test that specifically screens for the common deficiencies vegan people may develop. The test is offered by HealthLabs.com – an online lab testing company that works with 4,500+ certified laboratories across the US to provide fast, affordable and confidential testing that doesn’t require health insurance.

This test – officially called Vegan Nutritional Maintenance Panel – screens for 11 deficiencies that vegans may develop over time (see the full list here). The website also offers a few other tests targeted towards vegans.

Here’s how it works. First, you order the test online on HealthLabs.com. Just before checkout, the website asks you for your zip code, and shows the map of lab testing facilities available in your area (LabCorp or Quest Diagnostic are the the most common in the US). You select the facility that you’d like to go to, and complete the purchase.

After that, you’ll receive an email telling you what to do. You’ll need to create an account on HealthLabs.com, and print out a form to bring with you to the testing facility. For this type of test, you’ll need to fast for 12 hours before going to the lab. No special appointment is needed for the lab visit.

The day you arrive at the lab for your test, you’ll get checked in (no need to pay for anything or show your ID). The lab technician will take a sample of your blood and send it off for testing.

The test results will be available online within 1-3 business days – you’ll receive an email notification once that happens. If you need the test results to be explained, you can call a customer support number for instructions.

It took me a little while to make it to the lab after I ordered the test. We had a huge snowstorm, then went on vacation, then our entire household came down with a cold. When I finally got to our local LabCorp, it only took a few minutes to get my test done.

A few days later, HealthLabs.com emailed me that my results were ready for viewing. To my big relief, pretty much everything looked normal:

As you can see, my platelet count is the only number that appears to be a bit higher than normal. After some research, I found out that this can happen for a variety of reasons, stress being one of them (the past couple months have been quite stressful). I was told by the customer service rep at HealthLabs.com that I could either talk to my doctor about this, or wait a while and get tested again to check if that number changes.

Taking this test helped me put my concerns to rest. Even though my vegan diet isn’t always 100% healthy, I still seem to be getting all the nutrients I need. Of course this doesn’t mean that I’ll be ditching kale salads in favor of veggie nuggets and French fries 🙂 but at least I don’t have to stress about it when that happens.

To sum this up for all of us vegans who may have concerns about nutritional deficiencies, or just want to know where they stand with their diet – I found this test to be a convenient way to put an end to any doubts. You can get an answer in around 3 days in a professional and confidential manner, without the need to get your health insurance involved.

To make things even more appealing, I’ve got a special deal for you: I’ve partnered with HealthLabs.com to offer a 10% discount for the Vegan Nutritional Maintenance Panel to the readers of Vegan Runner Eats!

To get the discount, all you need to do is call HealthLabs.com to order this test (instead of purchasing it online), and mention this blog post.

If you have any concerns about getting all the nutrition you need from eating vegan, this test can help you put them to rest, so you never have to ask yourself again, “Is a vegan diet healthy?”

And if you aren’t vegan yet but have been thinking about switching, see my post about first steps when going vegan to get off to a good start.

Is a vegan diet healthy? What I found out about my health after 6 years of being vegan.

Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by HealthLabs.com. All opinions are 100% my own.

Original image credit: Monika Grabkowska via Unsplash.


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About Alina Zavatsky - Vegan Runner Eats

Alina first made a switch to a vegan diet in 2013 to optimize her athletic performance as a marathon runner. Being vegan eventually opened her eyes on the issues of animal welfare, environmental protection, human rights and feminism. Alina hopes that her blog will help its readers on their path to making this world a better place.

4 Responses to Is a Vegan Diet Healthy? What I Found Out After 6 Years of Being Vegan

  1. Sandra Juracich says:

    Great information. Thanks Alina.

  2. Thanks for this post. I’ll send it to my mum who worries!

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