vegan diet good for perimenopause

Is a Vegan Diet Good for Perimenopause? Discovering a New Path to Hormonal Balance

Is a vegan diet good for perimenopause? With the rising popularity of veganism, this question is relevant for many women going through perimenopausal transition. Women consuming a plant-based diet, or following a strict vegan lifestyle can reduce symptoms related to menopause, including hot flushes, while aiding in better healthy weight loss health benefits, according to a Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms. 

In the study, researchers found that sufficient diet intervention, such as removing animal products and reducing fat intake, may be as effective as hormone replacement therapy for treating hot flashes. 

Another 2018 study of over 604 perimenopausal and postmenopausal women reported that vegans had less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms compared to omnivores. 

In both these studies, there’s a clear indication that eating a plant-based or vegan diet may be beneficial for women in menopause, alleviating some menopausal symptoms through reducing fat intake and introducing more soy servings into their diet. 

Health Impacts of a Vegan Diet

According to Gallups’ Consumption Habits poll, only one percent of Americans identify as vegan. Not only that, but a marginal four percent of Americans have said they identify as vegetarian or consume a meat-free diet. 

Nonetheless, a vegan diet tends to hold a beneficial health impact for people, including women in menopause.

In many instances, experts suggest that vegans, or those who consume a plant-based diet tend to have lower serum cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Both these help to reduce vegans' risk of near-term heart disease. 

In other research, experts claim that a vegan diet helps to promote weight loss, and potentially lower a person’s chance of getting certain types of cancers, such as colon cancer. 

There is some evidence that suggests a vegan diet may help to manage diabetes more effectively by helping lower A1C levels, which reflects the average blood glucose levels. 

Despite there being numerous positive benefits to being a vegan or following a plant-based diet, experts suggest that those individuals eliminating all animal-based products from their diets may run the risk of increased nutritional deficiencies. 

Role of Plant-Based Foods in Menopause Symptoms

One of the biggest benefits of following a plant-based diet, or consuming more plant-based products is the introduction of phytoestrogens, better known as plant-based estrogens. Phytoestrogens are similar to female estrogen, which tends to fluctuate during menopause. 

Essential Nutrients in a Vegan Diet for Perimenopausal Women

Introducing phytoestrogens into your diet can be through the consumption of different foods, including nuts, legumes, and various types of vegetables. There are, however, two types of phytoestrogens, the first category is isoflavones, which include things such as soy products, chickpeas, or lentils. 

The second category - lignans - are mostly found in grains or grain-like food. These may include options such as oats or quinoa and seeds including flaxseed and sunflower seeds. Lignans may also be present in certain fresh produce, including vegetables. 

Protein and Amino Acids: Building Blocks of a Healthy Vegan Diet

For women eating a solely plant-based diet, or even following a meat-free diet in the case of vegetarians, a variety of non-animal-based foods, such as legumes are considerably protein-rich and help to address the lack of amino acids that are often not found in other plant-based foods. 

Other foods, including a combination of rice and beans, are considered to be complementarity of amino acids. For the most effective amino acid consumption, and to ensure a protein-rich diet, experts suggest consuming foods such as peas, beans, soybeans, and bean sprouts. Other types of grains can be beneficial, and provide access to a full complement of essential amino acids. 

Calcium and Vitamin D: Key to Bone Health During Perimenopause

According to one research paper on the impact of plant-based diets on female bone mineral density (BMD), experts noted that women following a plant-based diet had a lower BMD compared with the omnivore population. 

This research helps to identify the importance of introducing the necessary nutrients, such as calcium and Vitamin D into your diet for efficient bone mineral density. 

Sources of Vitamin D may include things such as mushrooms, fortified juices, and fortified rice or almond milk. Other sources may include fortified soy milk, or consuming a Vitamin D supplement following a high-fat meal. 

Calcium-rich foods, other than animal-based milks or ingredients include white beans, soy or soy-based products such as tofu, kale, edamame beans, and broccoli rabe. For maximum calcium intake, experts suggest eating a balanced portion of each, including a combination of things such as soy milk, almond milk, and chia seeds. 

Iodine, Iron, and Zinc: Micronutrients for Overall Wellbeing

Following a balanced diet that ensures a person consumes all the necessary nutrients and minerals can be cumbersome, even for omnivores and vegetarians. In the case of those following a plant-based diet or vegans, consuming enough iodine, iron, and zinc tends to be a challenge in itself. 

For adults, iodine is important for managing a healthy metabolism and regulating thyroid function. Insufficient iodine could lead to hypothyroidism, otherwise known as an under-functioning thyroid, and may cause weight gain and fatigue. 

Vegans can consume at least half a teaspoon of iodized salt for daily needs, or consider taking an iodine supplement. Other things such as seaweed may also help boost iodine intake. 

Iron-rich foods include a variety of vegetables including cabbage, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts, and various green leaf or cruciferous vegetables. Other things such as beans, dried fruits, nuts, and seeds could also be beneficial as they are naturally rich in iron. 

Some products that have fortified iron, such as breads, cereals, or plant-based milks can further help boost iron intake, however, careful consideration should be given due to the combination of ingredients used in these products. 

For maximum zinc intake, vegans can include things such as legumes, nuts and seeds, tofu, and whole grains into their diet. Most of these are considered beneficial for day-to-day energy and optimum health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Brain Health and Menopausal Transition

Omega-3 fatty acid is considered one of the most important omega acids obtained through diet or supplements. Additionally, Omega-3 is an essential nutrient that assists in menopausal transition and helps promote general health.

For the most beneficial results, vegans should consume an abundance of different foods such as seaweed, edamame beans, and avocado. Seeds that are rich in Omega-3 include flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds. Walnuts are another rich source of Omega-3.

Take A Look At Benefits of a Plant-based Diet for Menopause:

Addressing Nutritional Challenges in a Vegan Diet

Despite having some positive influence, a strict vegan diet may increase the risk of nutrition deficiencies and can lead to an increased risk of disease or other related health concerns. 

Spotlight on Vitamin B12: A Vital Nutrient for Vegans

Vitamin B12 - an essential nutrient necessary for promoting a healthy blood and nervous system - is commonly found in animal-based products including poultry, fish, red meat, and eggs. For vegans, consuming enough B12 tends to be one of the most challenging parts of their diet, and would often require them to consume products containing fortified B12 or supplements.

Experts believe that a lack of Vitamin B12 may cause a person to feel tired, and weak, and may lead to excessive fatigue. Other symptoms may include excessive headaches and pale-looking or yellow skin. You can also look for things such as inflammation that may be present in the mouth or on the tongue. B12 deficiency has been found to increase symptoms and feelings of depression. 

For most adults, the daily recommended amount of B12 is roughly 2.14 milligrams, however, this might depend on various factors, including weight, age, and other health-related conditions. 

An alternative or supplementary option for B12 would include fortified breakfast cereals or soya beverages. Other things such as yeast extract may be another suitable option. 

Understanding and Overcoming Common Nutrient Deficiencies

Experts believe that the most common deficiencies experienced by vegans include the following: 

Vitamin B12 deficiency: Often the most common, and is marked by feelings of fatigue, inflammation, and decreased brain function. Try to reach for foods such as fortified breakfast cereals or soy and rice milk beverages. 

Vitamin A deficiency: Sight and vision problems, and blemishes on the skin may be more frequent. Things such as leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers are loaded with Vitamin A. 

Vitamin D deficiency: A deficiency of Vitamin D might include low immunity, poor bone health, and low moods. Plant milk is often considered the best option for a source of Vitamin D. Another option would be to ensure you receive enough sunlight during the day.

Calcium deficiency: Poor bone and teeth health is a common symptom related to Calcium deficiency. For vegans, try to consume enough beans, dried figs, and almonds. Other legumes such as chickpeas or sesame seeds may help increase calcium levels. 

Iron deficiency: Look out for things such as hair loss, cognitive problems, and feelings of fatigue, as this may be due to low iron supplies in the body. As a vegan, try to consume an assortment of fruits and leafy greens, including dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. 

Pros and Cons of Processed Vegan Foods

Vegan diets require persons to prioritize nutrients, despite consuming fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, a plant or vegan-based diet isn’t necessarily considered healthy by itself. 

Pros of Vegan Processed Food

  • Increases the accessibility to new food options for vegans, including imitation products such as cheese, meat, and dairy. 
  • Provides vegans with additional options to choose from and ensures vegans obtain the necessary nutrients for a balanced diet. 
  • Helps to create new substitutes for vegans, allowing them to obtain the necessary fiber and vitamins. 

Cons of Vegan Processed Food

  • Some vegan processed foods may be high in things such as sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar. 
  • Vegan products such as yogurts and even vegetable blends may contain artificial sweeteners and can cause an imbalance in gut bacteria. 
  • Some imitation products and processed vegan substitutes tend to be high in potassium bromate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT). 

Vegan Diet in Action: Practical Tips and Recipes

Becoming vegan, or choosing to start eating more plant-based requires a substantial understanding of the choices you will be making now, and in the near future. Not only this but as a woman who may experience menopause, a vegan diet must be considered along with guidance from a nutritional expert, including a dietitian or healthcare provider. 

Incorporating Vegan Options: Gradual Transition and Balanced Choices

Start small: Before jumping in head first, start with going vegan, or eating mostly plant-based one day out of the week. You can even choose to swap out one or several meals for something plant-based instead of opting for the regular choice. 

Make adjustments to your daily habits: Replace specific ingredients or food items in your pantry with plant-based alternatives. Make sure to research all of the available options, and to consider the nutritional value of each product you may be replacing. 

Consult with an expert: You might want to consult with an expert beforehand, either a dietitian or a healthcare provider. Make sure to weigh in all your options, and what possible side-effects you may have as you gradually begin to introduce more plant-based options. 

Give yourself time: Going vegan, or at least vegetarian takes time. Give yourself enough time to get used to the change and find alternatives or substitutes for some of your favorite products. 

Consider it as a lifestyle choice: Being vegan is often more considered as a lifestyle, rather than a diet. If you’re looking to do a plant-based diet, consider following expert advice on how to incorporate more plant-based meals into your diet. However, with veganism, consider the swap over as a change of lifestyle, as veganism includes other aspects of your life, including alcohol, beverages, beauty products, clothing, and supplements. 

Delicious and Nutritious Vegan Recipes for Menopausal Health

There are plenty of recipes available online or on social media that are both menopause-friendly and plant-based.

Things such as high protein dishes that contain an assortment of fresh ingredients, seeds, and grains are typically a popular choice. Other meals may include things such as stuffed sweet potato skins, with beans and cashew cream. 

Delicious nachos or enchiladas, curries, and dahls are packed with flavor, and more importantly have an abundance of vitamins and nutrients, important for menopausal women.


Does Going Vegan Help Balance Hormones?

There is some evidence that suggests a plant-based diet rich in soy or soy products may help to reduce menopause-related symptoms such as menopausal hot flashes. This might be due to the higher intake of soy, which is rich in isoflavones and can help alleviate the discomfort of some menopause symptoms. 

Does a Vegan Diet Delay Menopause?

There is limited research or evidence that suggests vegan diets may delay menopause. Menopause is a natural biological process that will start during a woman’s midlife, and continue for seven to fourteen years. A vegan diet may be beneficial in alleviating menopause-related symptoms such as hot flashes. 

Final Thoughts

A vegan or strict plant-based diet may help to reduce or alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and assist in maintaining other health conditions such as weight gain and minimizing the excessive consumption of fatty or oily foods. 

However, for women, it’s important to consult with an expert, either a dietitian or healthcare provider about trying a vegan or plant-based diet during menopause. Additionally, a person may need to consider finding suitable substitutes for certain animal-based ingredients, or an expert may recommend a supplement. 


  • Barnard, N. D., Kahleova, H., Holtz, D. N., Del Aguila, F., Neola, M., Crosby, L. M., & Holubkov, R. (2021). The Women’s Study for the Alleviation of Vasomotor Symptoms (WAVS): a randomized, controlled trial of a plant-based diet and whole soybeans for postmenopausal women. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 28(10).
  • Beezhold, B., Radnitz, C., McGrath, R. E., & Feldman, A. (2018). Vegans report less bothersome vasomotor and physical menopausal symptoms than omnivores. Maturitas, 112, 12–17.‌

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