It’s important to put good food in your body on a regular basis. And it’s also important to be mindful of what you’re putting into the earth and consuming as well. This is where veganism comes in. Veganism is all about eating plants, fruits, nuts, seeds and vegetables without any animal products or byproducts. For some people choosing veganism means they are going for a healthy lifestyle but for others it’s an ethical decision that goes against the norm. In this guide we’ll go over everything there is to know about veganism!
You might think that vegans are thinner and have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-vegans. There has been an increase in the number of people who turn to vegan diets to lose weight. Some of this might be because they make healthier choices like being more active and other health-related behaviors. A vegan diet is more effective for weight loss than other diets. This may be because people on a vegan diet eat less calories. They may feel full because they eat more fiber and it makes them feel fuller faster than other foods.
To help keep your blood sugar low, you might want to eat a vegan diet. The studies show that people who are vegans have lower blood sugar levels and up to a 78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who do not. Vegan diets have been reported to lower blood sugar levels of diabetics up to 2.4 times more than diets recommended by the ADA, AHA and NCEP. The higher fiber intake may contribute to this because it might make the blood sugar response less sharp. And weight loss in a vegan diet could also help, too.
Vegan diets are linked to an array of other health benefits, including benefits for:
- Cancer risk: Vegans may benefit from a 15% lower risk of developing or dying from cancer
- Arthritis: Vegan diets seem particularly effective at reducing symptoms of arthritis such as pain, joint swelling and morning stiffness
- Kidney function: Diabetics who substitute meat for plant protein may reduce their risk of poor kidney function
- Alzheimer’s disease: Observational studies show that aspects of the vegan diet may help reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
Foods to Eat
Health-conscious vegans substitute animal products with plant-based replacements, such as:
- Legumes: Foods such as beans, lentils and peas are excellent sources of many nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Sprouting, fermenting and proper cooking can increase nutrient absorption.
- Tofu, tempeh and seitan: These provide a versatile protein-rich alternative to meat, fish, poultry and eggs in many recipes.
- Nuts and nut butters: Especially unblanched and unroasted varieties, which are good sources of iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E.
- Seeds: Especially hemp, chia and flaxseeds, which contain a good amount of protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
- Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts: These help vegans achieve their recommended dietary calcium intakes. Opt for varieties also fortified with vitamins B12 and D whenever possible.
- Algae: Spirulina and chlorella are good sources of complete protein. Other varieties are great sources of iodine.
- Nutritional yeast: This is an easy way to increase the protein content of vegan dishes and add an interesting cheesy flavor. Pick vitamin B12-fortified varieties whenever possible.
- Whole grains, cereals and pseudocereals: These are a great source of complex carbs, fiber, iron, B-vitamins and several minerals. Spelt, teff, amaranth and quinoa are especially high-protein options.
- Sprouted and fermented plant foods: Ezekiel bread, tempeh, miso, natto, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and kombucha often contain probiotics and vitamin K2. Sprouting and fermenting can also help improve mineral absorption.
- Fruits and vegetables: Both are great foods to increase your nutrient intake. Leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress and mustard greens are particularly high in iron and calcium.
Veganism is a lifestyle that has been shown to be beneficial for the health and planet. It’s no surprise then, that vegan restaurants are popping up all over the country! But before you go running off to your nearest plant-based eatery, let’s take some time to explore how going meatless might affect your diet in other ways. Has anyone tried any of these popular dishes? In conclusion, while veganism may not have as much protein or calories as traditional diets, it still provides plenty of nutrients without animal products like dairy and eggs. You can also add more plants into your meal plan with tofu substitutes such as soy curls or jackfruit if you’re looking for something different.