VEGAN DIET: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VEGAN FOOD AND HEALTH BENEFITS
Introduction to Vegan Diet
With each passing day, more and more individuals are embracing veganism or purely plant-based diets.
The curiosity and interest in veganism have hit an all-time high since 2020, according to a report by the food-focused website Chef's Pencil. According to a survey published in The Economist, around 25% of 25- to 35-year-old Americans now say they are vegans or vegetarians. Why, the moment you type "Vegan" in Google, the first item that pops up in the list of searches will be "vegan food near me"!
For many people, eliminating dairy, meat, and other animal products from their diet may seem like an insurmountable challenge. But then there are others for whom the personal and health benefits associated with vegan food decide to switch a complete no-brainer. Again, some people are deeply concerned about the welfare of animals. The potential health benefits of a vegan diet inspire many people to switch to vegetarian food.
But are vegan meals that healthy?
Research has shown that a vegan diet can benefit you in the following ways:
- Vegan diets promote weight loss.
- It reduces your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases by lowering cholesterol levels
- Vegan foods lower your chances of developing certain types of cancer, like colon cancer
- Going vegan can control diabetes by lowering A1C levels
But again, as any good doctor would recommend any of their patients considering veganism themselves, going vegan doesn't automatically guarantee good health.
You can be vegan and yet be overweight. Similarly, you can be vegan and yet be malnourished. So, whatever your diet choice, you must know what foods to avoid and which ones to seek.
How to switch to a vegan lifestyle?
The one-word answer to this would be – PLANNING.
Sweets, Junk Food, and refined grains are considered troublemakers for everyone, not just vegans. Vegans are humans too. And vegans, too, can fall into the bad habit of making these items the significant components of their diet.
A healthy diet provides you with all the essential nutrients. While you may have had plenty of these when you used to eat dairy and meat-based food, when you switch to veganism, you'll need to find new ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Meat isn't the only source of protein. Soy products (e.g., tofu and edamame) are also abundant in protein. There are many other "good sources" of vegan protein, like, say, seitan (made from gluten), chickpeas, lentils, and nutritional yeast.
A deficiency of vitamin B12 can make you feel exhausted and weak. But getting enough vitamin B12 can be challenging for vegans because it's not found in plants. To get your fill, consume fortified cereals, rice, and soy drinks. That, or take a supplement. The recommended daily amount of vitamin B12 for adults is around 2.4 milligrams but always check with your doctor to see what's right for you.
A deficiency of essential fatty acids has been linked to problems related to brain health, such as cognitive impairment and depression. To get your required quota of crucial fatty acids, try including whole grains and leafy green vegetables (e.g., kale, spinach, and collards) into your daily diet. You can also try snacking on a handful of unsalted nuts, like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios (watch your portions because nuts are high in calories). You can even have vegan cheese as a substitute for processed cheese.
Red meat and egg yolks are generally considered the richest sources of iron. But again, these are also high in bad cholesterol. The best plant sources of iron are black-eyed peas, tofu, and dried fruits (By the way, fresh fruit also contains iron in great qualities).
As everyone knows, basking in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes daily gives you a vitamin D boost. Fortified orange juice and soy also do the same.
Summing it up
Thus, as you might have seen from the above sections, going Vegan doesn't have to be about an "all or nothing" approach. By creating your personalized roadmap and being realistic about what you want to achieve, you'll be much more satisfied with making the change and continuing with it.
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