“It’s basically no dairy, no meat; everything is just plant-based and just from the ground. I love that I’m eating more greens. It makes you feel so much better” – Jennifer Lopez
Vegan Diet is preferred by many people today including quite a number of celebs. Increasingly more people have decided to go vegan for ethical, environmental or health concerns.
As long as you carefully research what nutrients you need, what types of foods contain those nutrients, and what recipes you can use to prepare those foods, you will have the tools to follow a healthy diet.
Now let’s put the pedal to the metal and learn about Vegan diet and is it really healthy?
What actually is a Vegan DIET?
For all those bugging bees, who still confuse vegan with a vegetarian diet, then my friend you’re highly mistaken.
Imagine everything made of plants like vegetables, grains, nuts, fruits. Well, that’s what vegan is. For a healthy lifestyle, Diet consisting of fruits and vegetables could be a good start. As far as a vegan diet goes, it includes all plant-based food groups and excludes all animal products. You have to totally abandon the intake of any animal food which means no dairy products like milk, butter, ghee, egg. Yes, no cheese as well. Well, the hardest choices require the strongest wills.
Appropriately planned vegan diets are healthy, can provide enough nutrients to the body, and can help to prevent certain diseases. Research shows that there are potential benefits to a vegan diet. A recent study indicated that the average vegan diet is higher in vitamin C and fiber and antioxidants, and lower in saturated fat than one containing meat. This healthy combination helps protect against chronic diseases.
Vegans have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer than non-vegans. Vegans also have lower blood pressure levels than both meat-eaters and vegetarians and are less likely to be overweight. A vegan diet is a very simple diet and can be followed by everyone from children to teens to older adults. It’s even healthier and much prescribed for pregnant and nursing mothers.
Despite accounting for so many health benefits, Vegan Diet still eliminates a number of food groups from your diet, which can possibly lead to lack of macronutrients. a vegan diet still might be at risk of being low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids which nevertheless can be obtained via special vegan sources.
Let me give you a bit of a “cheat sheet” to help with your research. There are a few nutrients you should especially focus on when following a vegan diet.
Protein: Since most omnivores get the majority of their protein from meat, how can vegans get enough protein without animal foods? Focus on plant proteins like chickpeas, beans (available in many varieties), whole grains (like brown rice, whole wheat bread, or quinoa), soy milk, and nuts.
Vitamin D: This important vitamin is needed to help with calcium’s absorption and help with other bodily processes. While direct exposure to the sun can stimulate Vitamin D formation in the skin, depending upon what climate you live in and other factors, it most likely will not provide enough. Vegans need to focus on foods that are fortified with vitamin D, like fortified orange juice, or take a supplement. The body requires 15 micrograms or 400 IU of vitamin D each day.
Calcium: Calcium is needed for many purposes in the body, one of which is to form and maintain strong bones. While many omnivores get their calcium through dairy products typically, vegans can depend on fortified sources like orange juice, soymilk or rice milk, tofu (made with calcium sulfate), or leafy greens like kale or collard greens.
Iron: Another important mineral for vegans to be mindful of is iron. There are two different types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal products and non-heme iron is found in non-animal products. Unfortunately, non-heme iron sources are less easily absorbed by the body. A way to improve absorption is to eat some sort of food containing Vitamin C. Some of those foods are citrus fruits (like oranges), cantaloupe, green peppers, cauliflower, or potatoes (both sweet and regular). Good sources of iron for vegans are dried beans, some dark green leafy vegetables, and dried fruits. Vegans may need a supplement for iron.
Vitamin B12: Of the B vitamins, this vitamin will require vegans to take a supplement for sure. While it is mostly found in animal products, some plant products do contain it but are not thought to be a reliable source. The best way to supplement B12 is to take a multivitamin with other B vitamins. This will provide the best absorption.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These fatty acids have been in the spotlight in recent years because of their potential to reduce the risk of heart disease. The best source of omega-3s is fish, but you can also get some through nuts (like walnuts), canola or soybean oils, and flaxseed. Depending upon your diet, you may need a supplement for omega-3s too.
How to Follow Vegan Diet when you are out?
You are out and you still want to follow a vegan diet, you are on a right track.
A Restaurant’s menu may be a little tricky when you first start a vegan diet. Dishes that sound vegetarian or vegan may contain animal foods, For example, some restaurants prepare vegetable soup with chicken stock, make pasta with eggs, and prepare Asian vegetable dishes with oyster or fish sauce. You may find that you often have to ask about ingredients
But there are many things that vegans can enjoy in restaurants! Great options include chickpea curry, bean burritos, tofu fajitas, falafel, pasta, and stir-fries. Of course, the best way to know what’s in your food is to cook at home. That way you can control the food choices and nutrition.
Hopefully, these tips will give you some help with your own vegan diet or provide you with more knowledge about this popular lifestyle. Veganism definitely has benefits because of all of the staple fresh fruits and vegetables consumed that give you lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. But, it really requires a lot of awareness of what you are eating and increases the likelihood that you may need different supplements.
Give it a Start and you will start feeling more healthy Real Soon.
Image Credits – Pinterest !!