People become vegan or have a preference for plant-based products because they don’t want to harm animals, want to take care of the environment, and protect their health from diseases and illnesses.
If you’re not a vegan and think veganism is extreme because of the PETA ads, think again.
There’s no difference between watching how an animal is slaughtered and then consuming them against buying and eating pork from the grocery. Veganism puts equal importance on each part of the process. Killing animals for whatever purpose or however it’s done is plain cruelty.
After all, the end doesn’t justify the means.
Whatever your reasons are, becoming a vegan is difficult, especially if you’re just starting. Self-awareness is key. Are you a vegan, or do you just want to fill up your plate with plant-based foods?
A vegan doesn’t eat animal products --- including dairy, poultry, fish, meat, honey, and eggs. It’s an absolute belief in avoiding animal-based products. However, a plant-based diet focuses on filling up the plate with plant sources - they can still eat animal-based food.
No, vegans don’t eat eggs as it’s derived from animals. Vegans don’t eat honey, either. However, vegetarians or those who prefer plant-based meals may eat eggs as their source of essential nutrients.
There is no “one-size-fits-all.” People’s diet is based on their goals, preferences, and requirements.
The more active ones generally need more energy. Those wanting to build muscle mass need more protein. Similarly, people who want to lose weight must avoid foods with high sugar content, such as those found in carbohydrates.
The right meal plan is ideally
Take note that even vegetables contain sugar. Sweet potatoes, beets, green peas, and onions have high sugar content. Also, vegetables are preferred over fruits by those wanting to lose weight.
Vegetables and fruits are great sources of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
If you’re planning to lose weight, some foods like apples, brussels sprouts, lemons and limes, and radishes contain a few calories.
The antioxidants found in fruits help in fighting free radicals, which are responsible for inflammation and cancer. In particular, tomatoes contain lycopene, a substance that protects against heart disease and cancer.
Also, mushrooms are an excellent meat substitute and contain only 15 calories per cup. More than that, vegetables and fruits are a great source of water --- celery, watermelon, cucumber.
Whole grains are seeds of grasses used for food. Many whole-grain foods are ready to eat. Below are some examples of whole grains.
Whole grains are rich in protein, vitamin B, antioxidants, and protein. A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack or stroke, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some cancer.
If you’re starting out, you can replace white-flour tortillas with a healthier version. Replace white rice with brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, or barley. If you love breaded fried foods, you can use an air fryer for cooking your food using whole-wheat bran cereal instead of dry bread crumbs.
Protein is essential for energy and building muscle. Protein needs are based on age, weight, activity, height, and sex---people who are taller and more active need more protein. Males tend to need more protein because they have a leaner body mass than females.
Some examples of lean protein in the vegan diet include beans, peas, lentils, and some tofu.
Regulations in food labels are complex. As required, there are five main sets of information that need to be put on food labels.
Let’s say, for example, one serving size is one cup (280 calories). If you eat two cups, you consume two servings (560 calories).
For those planning to lose weight, a 14-inch regular crust pizza contains around 260 calories, and it’d take a 125-pound person an estimated one and a half-hour of general weight lifting to burn this off.
Added sugar are sugars found in the processing of foods such as sweeteners. You should look at total sugar, as this includes added sugar and naturally occurring sugars found in the raw product, such as those found in fruits.
A vegan diet involves eating plant-based products. Plants are a good source of vitamin B12, protein, omega-3, iron, calcium, vitamin D, iodine, and selenium.
Vitamin B12, most commonly found in meat, can also be plant-based. Yeast extract such as marmite is fortified with this vitamin. Other foods fortified with vitamin B12 include breakfast cereals and soy products.
Some plants like quinoa, spirulina, almonds, peanuts, and chickpeas are good sources of protein in a vegan diet. You can try some vegan or vegetarian recipes like broccoli and quinoa salad or lentil soup.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in seaweed, algae, vegetables, seeds, and nuts --- in particular --- walnuts, flax, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, canola oil, and soy foods. For sources of iron, vegans include kale, dried apricots, chia seeds, cashew nuts, or beans in their diet.
Green, leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, tahini, and fortified brown and white bread are good sources of calcium. Take note that calcium and vitamin D work together. And if you don’t have enough vitamin D found in sunlight, your body won’t be able to absorb much calcium too.
Also, iodine is essential for proper brain development during infancy. Also, iodine helps in controlling body metabolism. Sources of iodine include courgettes, kale, strawberries, and green beans.
As you become more conscious of the food you eat, you’ll notice that a vegan diet will have some problems sourcing vital nutrients only found in animals.
Vegan diets have no source of cholesterol or vitamin K2, which are found in animal fats. If there aren’t enough healthy fats in the blood, the body will find it hard to synthesize steroid hormones, affecting hormonal balance, metabolism, salt and water balance, etc.
Some side effects of these hormonal imbalances include testicular shrinking, severe acne, and breast development in males. Similarly, menstrual changes, deepened voice, and facial hair are some of the effects on females.
Also, Vitamin K2 plays a role in the absorption of calcium. A diet mostly rich in grains is something to watch out for too. Grains are rich in phytic acid, which contributes to the demineralization of teeth and bones.
As a solution, nutritionists advise vegans to consume fermented food like natto or fermented soy, which can help produce vitamin K2. It’s also essential to increase the intake of vitamin D and calcium for adequate bone development.
And more than nutrition, doctors are advising people to lift weights to prevent osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises increase bone density, making it stronger.
Vegans get adequate nutritional requirements from eating vegetables. Plant-based products are rich in nutrients and fiber. Some vegan products like plant-based burgers taste just as good as a juicy beef burger.
Even better than the food you put inside your body are the harmful foods you don’t put inside it.
Animal-based foods are rich in cholesterol, responsible for most heart diseases. Most meat products are usually paired with marinades, which contain a lot of sugar. And too much sugar causes diabetes and obesity.
Vegans who desire to live healthy by eating plant-based foods are more than likely to exercise, too, adding to positive lifestyle behaviors. As a result, vegans become more fit. Also, exercise has been linked to fewer incidences of depression and anxiety.
Most vegans are likely to join in social justice issues, which promote zero-waste movements, human rights, and minimalism.
Livestock such as cows, rice production, or agricultural soils contributed to 9.9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018. Of this, a quarter of this percentage is from the methane produced by cattle. Not consuming animal-based livestock such as cattle will help the environment.
Those who don’t eat meat because they don’t like the slaughter of animals or want to protect the environment are people who often treat each other fairly — be it in implementing liabilities or providing opportunities.
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