A growing number of people are now considering the vegan lifestyle due to ethical, environmental, and health concerns. Going vegan can bring about massive positive changes in your life when done properly. Nevertheless, a lifestyle solely based on plant food can sometimes increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry! There are many ways for you to switch to veganism while avoiding any deficiencies.
If you are considering the vegan lifestyle, here is the ultimate guide to help you do so successfully.
What Constitutes a Vegan Diet?
Veganism isn’t just a diet; it’s a way of living. Embracing veganism means excluding all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty from your life. This is why the foundation of the vegan diet is constructed on avoiding all animal products including meat, dairy, and eggs.
There are many different vegan diets that people follow based on their personal choice and health requirements. However, almost all these diets include the consumption of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
What are the Health Benefits of Going Vegan?
Here are a few health benefits of going vegan.
Switching to a vegan diet means relying on whole food such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. These foods contribute to a higher intake of some very beneficial nutrients such as antioxidants, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and E. However, this is only in the case that you follow a well-planned and healthy vegan diet and steer clear of nutrient-poor foods.
Plant-based diets can help you shed excess weight. Vegan generally tend to have lower body mass indexes and tend to be thinner than non-vegans. This is mainly because vegan diets tend to result in a lower calorie intake.
Following a vegan diet can improve kidney function and also help those with type 2 diabetes. Studies show that vegans typically have higher insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, and also lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Other research also shows that diabetics who have a meat-free diet reduce their risk of poor kidney function.
The vegan diet is a very controlled diet that can help prevent certain types of cancers. For instance, eating legumes can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Also, vegan diets also contain more soy products that can protect one from breast cancer.
Many people are concerned with whether they can follow their vegan diet during pregnancy or not. Well, the answer is yes; you can and must stick to your vegan lifestyle during your pregnancy. However, you will need to be a little careful and give your body an ample supply of calcium, iron, protein, vitamin B 12, and vitamin D through vegan-friendly sources. Aside from maintaining a healthy vegan diet and taking your prenatal vitamins, you must visit your doctor for regular checkups.
When following a vegan diet, you need to maintain your iron levels. There are many fruits, grains, and vegetables that make for good sources of iron. However, not all iron is the same; some foods make it more difficult for your body to make iron. So, you should consume the following products to keep your iron levels up:
- Baked potato
- Cereals, pastas, whole wheat breads, oatmeal, and quinoa
- Tofu, lentils, legumes, and soybeans
Men vs. Women
Generally, women tend to turn to veganism more than men. This is due to various factors, with the main factor being ‘masculinity.’ Eating meat is commonly associated with being ‘masculine,’ making it harder for men to switch to veganism. Secondly, women are very conscious of their body image, and the vegan diet is quite helpful in achieving their body goals. Thirdly, women tend to be more compassionate than men, which is why the switch to veganism from a meat-based diet.
Long-Term Health Effects or Implications
Generally, a vegan diet can prove to be a healthy choice for your body. However, it’s important to note that every the long term effects of any diet are determined by the quality of the food that you consume.
While some vegans eat healthy foods and fulfill their nutritional requirements through mindful eating, others may fall into a pattern of consuming a lot of processed foods such as chips, foods, and sweets. Although these options are technically vegan, there’s no doubt that they lack many of the critical nutrients that your body requires to function effectively.
With an appropriately-balanced vegan meal plan, you won’t have to worry about any long-term or short-term health implications. In fact, with a proper plant-based diet, your body can receive an ample supply of fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals that can be great for your overall health!
How Does a Vegan Diet Support Sustainability Goals? How Does It Lower My Carbon Footprint?
Embracing veganism is a huge step towards supporting sustainability and protecting our precious earth. Whether you opt for vegetarianism or veganism, both these lifestyles definitely help protect the environment and climate. Even by simply reducing your beef consumption, you can help reduce CO2 and methane emissions, and even water consumption. So, you can imagine how having a completely plant-based diet will help reduce your carbon footprint.
What Types Of Foods Can I Eat To Replace Meat?
A major problem that people face is letting go of the habit of eating meat, especially when they’ve consumed meat all their lives. However, the key to letting go of this habit is to replace it with a better one. Here are some foods that serve as fantastic substitutes for meat.
With an earthy and savory flavor, eggplants offer meaty texture and great taste. This highly versatile vegetable can be used to create a variety of mouth-watering delicacies.
Portobello mushrooms are a quite popular substitute for meat, especially when it comes to making burgers. Sliced, chopped, or ground, mushroom have a meaty texture that can thrill your taste buds.
Tofu is a soy-based protein that is quite similar to chicken. Since this vegetarian protein takes on the flavors of its seasoning, it serves as a great canvas of all types of flavors.
Tempeh is very similar to tofu, but it serves as a better substitute for fish rather than chicken. With a firm texture and nutty flavor, this soy-based protein contains all essential amino acids to deliver probiotics to your body.
Some other vegan meat substitutes include seitan, lentils, cauliflower, and beans.
How Do I Navigate Restaurant Dining If I’m Vegan?
While it is easier to stick to your vegan lifestyle when you’re at home, it can get quite difficult to follow it when dining out. You can’t always visit a restaurant that specializes in vegan meals, especially if your friends and family love meat.
So, if you have plans to go to a restaurant and aren’t sure of the vegan options, simply give the restaurant a call beforehand and ask. You can also put in a special request by asking the chef to prepare a vegan meal for you.
Most menus contain vegetarian options that can easily be converted to vegan ones. You can just ask the chef to remove any dairy or eggs to make your vegetarian dish vegan-friendly. Also, if you feel like removing an ingredient may make the dish lose its taste, you can get that ingredient replaced by a vegan-friendly option.
What about Baking Vegan?
Vegan baking is something that even the most seasoned bakers must learn. If you want to bake vegan, you will have to find out what you can use and what you need to avoid. However, there are two simple tips to help you bake vegan.
Bakers generally rely on eggs for binding, but since you can’t eat eggs, you can opt for its replacements instead. For instance, you can mix ground flaxseed and water to create a gel-like substance that mimics the consistency of an egg. Other egg replacements include chia eggs or aquafaba.
Use Nuts and Non-Dairy Milk for Flavor
All you need to do is swap out regular milk for plant-based milks such as almond, coconut, and soy milk. Not only are these wonderful substitutes for dairy milk, but they actually add more flavor to baked goods.