Diet plans and trends are always a hot topic. Opinions vary widely from their benefits to the human body to their environmental impact. From time to time, new diets emerge and the debate continues.
What is Veganism?
When thinking of starting a new diet, it is common to relate it to weight loss and getting in shape. However, that is not typically the case for people practicing veganism. Being a vegan means adhering to a plant-based diet – sometimes even a lifestyle – without any animal products.
The Vegan Society, defines veganism as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” This means the aim of veganism is not solely about its health benefits, but rather to live life according to these beliefs.
Essentially, veganism is a lifestyle without any products involving animal exploitation, not only limited to food. Products like leather and fur are disavowed in a vegan lifestyle. It has been, and still remains to be, one of the most popular diets around the world. Celebrities like TV host Ellen DeGeneres, YouTuber Jenna Marbles and singer Jason Mraz are all vegans.
What is a plant-based diet?
It is exactly what it sounds like – a diet based only on plant products. Vegans do not consume meat, dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish or animal-produced products like honey. Fruits and vegetables are mainstays in vegan nutrition. However, they eat more than just veggies.
Whole foods – meaning plant foods that are minimally processed or refined – are also a big component of a vegan diet. Food such as nuts, grains, soy, seeds and beans are also popular ingredients in plant-based eating. If you think it sounds very limited – you are wrong! Vegans eat a wide variety of cuisines, just as much as any other diet. From pizzas to pad thai, sushi to sundaes – nearly all of your favorite food can be made vegan-friendly.
But what if I fancy a juicy burger? Well, that is understandable and, contrary to the namesake of the most popular vegan burger options, not impossible! Companies like Impossible Foods create lab-made “meat” for vegans to enjoy. Products like vegan “meat” or vegan “eggs” are easily accessible in groceries stores nowadays.
So don’t worry about your spontaneous meat cravings. Vegan meat-alternatives exist, and many people claim you can hardly tell them apart from the real thing. You can even top it up with a slice of vegan cheese!
Why go vegan?
For your body
A well-planned vegan diet is packed full of nutrients. Vitamins, fibers, antioxidants and minerals are all goodies supplied in a vegan diet! Just be sure to incorporate enough protein and amino acids to your diet, as these are usually obtained from the meat in a meal.
Research shows that a plant-based diet can be very beneficial for your body. Besides helping with weight loss, it can also lower your cholesterol and help regulate your blood sugar due to the low amount of saturated fat in the diet, which helps promote a healthier cardiovascular system.
Additionally, research suggests that a diet heavy in meat is more prone to certain types of cancer, especially colon and esophageal cancers. A vegan diet is known for being high in fiber, and this can help reduce the risk of some of these issues. Studies show that your chances of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer are significantly lower with a vegan compared to an average meat eater.
For the world
A vegan lifestyle can also help reduce the impact humans have on nature. Aside from helping preserve natural resources, a vegan lifestyle also supports humane approaches to animal rights – for example, banning practices like product testing on animals, fur and leather production and animal-based entertainment.
Food production can lead to deforestation and depletion of natural resources. Additionally, the resources used to breed, raise and feed livestock animals are estimated to contribute to around 80% of global deforestation, and this also compounds the effects of global warming with increased emissions of greenhouse gases. The benefits of veganism to our planet may be slow, but they are steady and significant.
Balance is key
Vegan diets should always be well-planned to prevent nutrition deficits. Side effects of going vegan can include anemia, disrupted hormone productions, depression from a lack of omega-3 intake and vitamin B12 deficiencies, unless the diet is properly balanced. It is important to ensure any diet includes sufficient nutrients – or includes beneficial supplements, like nutritional yeast, to keep things at the optimal level.
Going vegan is more than just cutting meat out of your diet. It is crucial to educate yourself and be prepared for such a major change. It might be hard to adjust to at first, but you will soon learn the fun and wholesomeness of going vegan. With the many benefits it brings, it will surely be worth the effort.
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