Being vegan is not a diet pattern, it is a lifestyle. The fact that you are vegan should make you feel good about yourself as you are one of the people who has taken the initiative to give equal rights to all life on the planet. Recent years have witnessed an increase in the popularity of veganism. People are increasingly choosing vegan diets due to ethical, environmental, and health reasons. In addition to a slimmer waistline and healthier blood sugar levels, such a diet may provide various health benefits.
- The vegan community intends to do their best, in whatever way possible, to move toward a new world of compassion that does not harm animals. Moreover, it goes well beyond diet. The vegan community has led many protests against circus acts and other venues that use animals to entertain humans. As part of the vegan lifestyle, they strive to avoid practices that harm the welfare of animals or exploit them.
- Despite this phenomenon, there is some evidence that eating only plant foods can put you at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Our comprehensive guide to a vegan diet is specifically devised for those who have chosen the path of veganism. There is a lot to learn about the vegan lifestyle, so this article provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know.
What is Veganism?
- A vegan lifestyle is characterized by not exploiting or harming animals, whether for food or clothing in any way. Thus, the vegan diet excludes all animal products and by-products, including meat, eggs, and dairy products. Several factors contribute to people choosing a vegan diet. Usually, they are related to ethics or the environment, but they can also help to improve health. Famous climate activist Greta Thunberg is vegan and has even convinced her parents to adopt the same diet.
What are the types of vegan diets out there?
- 80/10/10 Diet: The 80/10/10 diet consists mainly of raw fruits and soft greens instead. It limits fat-rich foods, such as nuts and avocados. Instead, it relies heavily on raw fruits and soft greens. It is also called the raw-food, fruitarian, or low-fat vegan diet.
- The starch-rich diet: A vegan diet, low in fat and high in carbohydrates like one based on 80/10/10, consists primarily of starchy foods such as potatoes, rice, and corn.
- Junk-food diet: Meat-free diet consisting of mock meat, non-dairy cheese, fries, vegan desserts, and other high-processed vegan foods.
- Whole-food diet: Consumption of healthy and nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Raw-food diet: An eating regimen that consists primarily of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and plants, which does not reach temperatures above 48°C.
- Raw till evening: Based on the 80/10/10 and starch-rich diet. You can eat raw foods till evening around 4:00 p.m. followed by a cooked plant-based dinner.
- The thrive diet: This diet emphasizes raw foods. Those who follow this approach eat raw or minimally steamed food that originates from plant-based ingredients.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: Meat usually contains a high amount of saturated fats and trans fat leading to higher cholesterol levels. Among those at risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, and heart disease are people with high cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol is not found in plant-based foods by nature. In addition to increasing blood pressure, a diet high in fat and cholesterol may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Improved Mood: In a study published on their website of PCRM, researchers at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) analyzed the eating habits and moods of 3,486 people for five years. Plant foods contributed to a reduction in depression symptoms among study participants who ate whole, plant foods.
Natural Ingredients: Most of the products we apply to our bodies are absorbed by the skin and end up in our bloodstream. Cosmetic brands often use phthalates and parabens in their formulas. Development and reproduction are affected by these ingredients, and neurological issues are also a possibility. In addition, the immune system and nervous system can be affected.
- Other Benefits
- Cancer: A vegan diet may help reduce the probability of getting cancer or dying from it.
- Arthritis: Studies have found that vegan diets may help reduce the pain associated with arthritis, including joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in the morning.
- Kidney: Patients with diabetes who switch from animal protein to plant protein may sustain better kidney function.
- Alzheimer’s: Evidence from observational studies indicates the vegan diet may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.
However, the vast majority of studies proving these benefits have been observational. Accordingly, it could be hard to assert that veganism is directly responsible for the advantages.
What are things you CAN consume as a vegan
- Veggies & Fruits - Everything from spinach to mustard greens.
- Sprouts - Miso, Natto, pickles, and kimchi are foods derived from grains.
- Algae - Spirulina and Chlorella
- Calcium-fortified plant milk
- Whole grains and cereals, such as spelt, teff, and quinoa.
- Legumes - Beans, Lentils, Peas, etc.
What are the things you CANNOT consume as a vegan:
- Eggs and Meat
- Fish and Seafood
- Dairy products like cheese, butter, cream, milk, yoghurt, ice cream, milk powder, buttermilk, and so forth.
- Honey, pollen from bees, and royal jelly
- Ingredients derived from animals - gelatin, carmine, etc.
Watch out for these things
Vegans must follow a strict diet by taking into consideration all the nutrients necessary for human health. The absence of vitamins B12 and D may lead to a host of deficiencies such as insufficient blood levels of zinc, iron, iodine, calcium, and zinc. When following a vegan diet, you should not eat processed foods. Some people may have difficulty absorbing all the nutrients present in food. Hence, there are certain supplements that you can take to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 in cyanocobalamin form
- Vitamin D: If you are vegan, choose vegan D3
- EPA and DHA: Sourced from algae oil
- Supplementing iron should only be done when a deficiency is recognized
- Consume 1/2 teaspoon of iodized salt daily or a supplement of iodine
- Take 500 mg or less of calcium each time to get the most absorption. If you take calcium with iron or zinc supplements, it might affect its absorption.
- Zinc intake can be in the form of zinc gluconate or zinc citrate
Whenever we make changes to our diet, our bodies react to those changes. During the first few days, you may also experience headaches, fatigue, nausea, and other symptoms. If something like this happens, do not be alarmed, these things are not unusual. You will find it hard to give your body the kind of transformation you want to achieve if you are used to eating meat, dairy, and other processed foods. Please be patient and let your body pass through this phase. As your body gets used to the new diet, it will get better. Take a moment to applaud yourself for entering the realm of the vegan lifestyle. Your efforts will start to yield results very soon.