To some people, vegan nutrition is all about being moral and stopping animal abuse. To others, it is all about eating healthy. There is also a small category of people who go vegan only because it is popular. All in all, whether your reasons are health-related, environmental or moral, the vegan diet can bring in a plethora of benefits if done correctly, it’s even shown in many best vegan documentaries.
Just like any other diet, it can also lead to a few deficiencies, hence the necessity of planning everything by the book. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about embarking this venture with your homework done.
Understanding the vegan diet
Veganism is not all about dieting, but also about your lifestyle. Simply put, it implies avoiding any type of animal exploitation or cruelty. From this point of view, a vegan diet is not just about skipping meat or dairy products. Instead, it is also about giving up leather, wool and other animal related products. This whole venture may seem a bit complicated at first, but anyone can get used to it with a little preparation.
Apart from the ethical purpose of this lifestyle, some people adopt it for environmental reasons as well, they even switch to buying vegan friendly items such as best vegan wallets and best vegan shoes. For instance, having animals is quite harmful to the environment and much worse than growing grains, for example.
Bottom line, it makes no difference what your reasons are. As long as you can exclude any type of animal-related item from your diet, you are a winner.
Disclosing the common types of vegan diets
To a newbie, vegan nutrition is about avoiding animal abuse. To a vegan, it is much more diversified. Just like any other type of diet, there are more options associated with veganism as well.
Raw vegan diet
The raw vegan nutrition is mostly based on raw fruits. It means you can have fruits, nuts, vegetables and other plant foods in a raw state. If you choose to cook them, they should be done at less than 118 degrees F to be considered raw.
80-10-10 vegan diet
The 80-10-10 balanced vegan diet is mostly raw. However, it tends to eliminate fat plants from the diet. It is most commonly based on soft greens and fruits, so nuts or avocados are out of the discussion. Some vegans refer to it as a fruitarian diet.
Whole food vegan diet
This is probably the most diversified type of vegan diet. It involves any type of whole plant food you can think of – from seeds and fruits to whole grains and nuts. It provides multiple cooking ideas and solutions as well.
Junk vegan diet
This is by far the easiest way to switch to a vegan diet because you are less likely to experience any withdrawal issues. It is based on alternatives that imitate meat and cheese, as well as fries and other processed foods.
Other vegan diets
Other variations of the vegan diet imply:
- Starch vegan diet – based on cooked starches.
- Thrive vegan diet – based on raw food and close to no cooking.
- Raw till 4 vegan diet – raw foods until 4PM and cooked foods after.
Despite all these variations, many vegans overlook them and simply eat whatever they feel like, as long as it is not derived from an animal. Scientific research also overlooks these varieties, yet it is important to learn how to eat a balanced vegan diet.
Veganism and blood sugar
The vegan diet nutrition has been associated with type 2 diabetes and blood sugar in a positive way. Vegans tend to have lower blood sugar, but insulin sensitivity is also much higher. In other words, they can reduce the risks to develop type 2 diabetes by over 75%, according to the National Institutes of Health.
On another note, a proper vegan diet will reduce the blood sugar in those suffering from diabetes. It is proven to be at least twice more efficient than medical diets. How come? Easy! Such a diet involves a high fiber intake. To make it even better, vegan diets tend to promote weight loss, which will also contribute to keeping diabetes under control. Also keep in mind that there are various products to help you do that, you can read more vegan protein powder reviews.
Veganism and weight loss
Just like other categories of people, vegans can be skinny, thin or overweight. The percentage goes towards the lighter side of the spectrum. In other words, vegans have a low BMI and seem to be thinner than those who eat animal related products. This is one of the reasons wherefore so many people become vegan only to lose weight.
It is not all about the diet. But as you become vegan, you want everything around you to be green and healthy. Chances are you will also engage in more physical activity, hit a gym, get more sleep and so on.
Losing weight becomes a reality without being hungry. You can have whole food diets and still keep your weight under control. Plus, being vegan will help you lose more weight than if you reduce the calorie intake. What can be better than that? Avoid hunger and lose weight.
Veganism and heart health
According to the National Institutes of Health, going vegan can boost your cardiovascular health. You can cut the risks of a heart affection in half, but you can also reduce the incidence of arterial hypertension by around 75%.
All these benefits are possible due to keeping the blood sugar under control, as well as the levels of cholesterol. When mixed with the possibility to reduce the blood pressure, the risk of heart disease becomes extremely low.
Other benefits of veganism
Numerous studies have proven that going vegan could have a series of other health-related benefits, such as:
- Lower risk of developing cancer
- Lower risk of arthritis
- Improved kidney function
- Lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease
It is worth noting that many of these studies are observational and not fully conclusive yet. Research is still ongoing, but so far, results are quite encouraging.
What to eat
If you think plant-based diets are all about leaves and salads, you are wrong. In fact, your options are extremely diversified.
Tofu, seitan, and tempeh make some excellent alternative to meat and dairy because they are rich in protein. If cooked correctly, they often taste like cheese or meat. When it comes to legumes, never overlooked peas, lentils or beans. Even if you are not a big fan, cook them differently for a new taste, as they provide plenty of nutrients, including protein.
Nuts and associated butter – especially when unroasted – bring in selenium, fiber, zinc, iron, magnesium and vitamin E. On the other hand, seeds are mostly about protein and essential fatty acids. Seeds can be sprinkled over anything. Go for chia, hemp and flax.
Many vegans end up with a calcium deficiency because they fail to implement calcium-fortified foods into their diets. Opt for yogurts and milks – plenty of plant based options. You should hunt those with lots of vitamins B12 and D.
Cereals and whole grains are rich in fiber, iron, multiple B vitamins, a few minerals and important carbohydrates. Quinoa is a good choice, but do not overlook amaranth or spelt either. As for the common fruits and vegetables, leafy greens are rich in calcium. Most other things are rich in vitamins. The best part about fruits and vegetables is that you can abuse them if you feel hungry – part of every vegan nutrition guide.
Other foods to pay attention to as a vegan include:
- Nutritional yeast for protein and vitamin B12
- Algae for protein and iodine
- Fermented plant foods for probiotics and vitamin K2
What to avoid eating
Vegans stay away from anything that comes from animals. Apart from the obvious meat (which also includes fish and seafood), their list is longer. It takes a little time to get used to it, but it is doable. So, what should you avoid?
- Dairy products – yogurt, butter, cream, cheese, milk
- Bee products – honey
- Derived ingredients – casein, whey, albumen, lactose, carmine, gelatin, L-cysteine, isinglass, shellac and others
It will definitely take a while to get used to it. Small things are often overlooked, such as the milk in your coffee when you use the coffee machine in work. It is also worth reading ingredients all the time. For example, most people do not know that gummies are often made of fish or other animal gelatin.
Risks and solutions
Switching to a healthy vegan diet asks for some planning, as you need to ensure a perfect nutrient intake. Doing it randomly may lead to some deficiencies. Here are the most common ones and how to overtake them.
Vitamins B12 and D, iodine, iron, zinc and calcium – these are some of the most common deficiencies and they depend on several factors, including your gut bacteria. Avoid it by reducing the amounts of processed foods and having plant foods rich in nutrients instead. Fermenting and cooking foods will add to the zinc and iron absorption, while iron rich foods are self explanatory. To overcome an iodine deficiency, eat more seaweed.
Keep your omega 3 fatty acid levels high by consuming ALA-rich foods like hemp, chia and flax seeds.
Bottom line, the vegan diet – in any form you want – will provide lots of advantages, but it must be implemented by the book. Do your homework and come up with a list of foods that you can have – take every vegan diet component into consideration. Also, planning ahead will work wonders. If you can come up with a plan for a weekhttps://topstuf.com/how-to-go-vegan/ or two weeks to repeat at the end of every cycle, you are a winner.