Let’s Talk Food: Veg, Non-Veg or Vegan – Which Diet Is Healthier?

Let’s try and settle this never-ending debate about what is healthier – vegetarian, non-vegetarian or vegan?

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(16 October is celebrated world over as World Food Day to promote awareness about starvation, nutrition, and food security. This video is being republished in light of this.)


Paneer, chicken, soya, mutton – there has always been a huge debate on what is healthier. What is better – vegetarian diet, non-vegetarian diet or a vegan diet?

There’s obviously the pivotal argument about animal cruelty in favour of vegan or vegetarian diet. But what about nutrients? Are vegetarians missing out on important nutrients by shunning meat and eggs? How do vegans eat healthy when they remove dairy products as well as meat in their diet? And is it healthy for non-vegetarians to have meat, chicken, fish etc for all their meals?

Let's try and settle this never-ending debate.

How to Get Proper Nutrients in All Three Diets?

Meat, eggs and dairy products are easily available sources of a lot of good nutrients. And the main point is that if you are excluding any one of these, you need to consciously make up for it by including healthy alternatives in your diet.

You need to eat nuts, pulses, vegetables and fruits every day in adequate amounts to get proper nutrients.

What about milk and dairy products? Well, in recent times, there has been a lot of debate about whether milk is good or bad for your health mainly because of the hormones injected in the animals. Nutritionists are divided on it as well. But the popular opinion seems to be that milk still is a good source of nutrients and won’t harm you. This is backed by a major study by the American Cancer Society as well.

So, if you don’t want to have milk or dairy products, you have to be super careful to make up for your calcium and protein through other sources.


Which Is Healthier: Veg, Non-Veg Or Vegan Diet?

A lot of studies say that vegetarian diet or even vegan diet is healthier, prevents cardiovascular diseases, makes you feel more energetic, is good for your gut or some such. And eating meat can make you prone to diseases.

We need to realise that most of these studies are from a western perspective, says Dr Rupali Datta, clinical nutritionist. In western countries, people are used to eating meat in every meal and tend to not eat enough veggies. So these studies aim to inculcate a habit of eating more vegetables. But it’s in no way a better option.

Including more fresh vegetables and fruits is definitely healthy and has greater benefits than eating meat all day. But that doesn’t mean meat is bad and you avoid it. Meat has its own nutritional value. Going to any one extreme is not suggested. It has to be a well-balanced diet.

And the argument that traditionally Indians have been predominantly vegetarian is not true. 70 percent of Indians are non-vegetarians.

We should just make sure we include various sources of different nutrients in whatever diet we choose to follow. No one diet can be labelled better than the other when it comes to vegetarianism, non-vegetarianism and veganism. It all depends on what you are eating.

Cameraperson: Athar Rather and Abhishek Ranjan
Video Editor: Prashant Chauhan

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Topics:  Vegan   Nutrition   Non Vegetarian 

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