Starting a vegan diet is usually associated with the decision to live more healthily. It is often taken for various health reasons, ranging from improved overall health to protection against fatal diseases. Read on to know all there is about a vegan diet, such as how it differs from a vegetarian diet and the benefits associated with it.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
Vegans are extreme vegetarians, and not in a bad way. We could say that they are vegetarians who take a further step ahead. Vegans are dieters who do not eat any animal products, including milk and egg.
Often, they commit to eating more plants, focusing on fruits and veggies, alongside whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, and beans. But avoiding meat and other dairy products does not necessarily mean a healthy living. Thus, vegans commonly limit their consumption of ultra-processed products, such as convenience foods, refined carbs, and beverages sweetened with artificial sugars.
Common Foods In The Vegan Diet
For the typical vegan, fruits and veggies are everyday selections on his diet. Or do I say, “every meal selection.” A vegan diet requires the presence of these foods in every meal.
For example, the standard vegan breakfast may be oatmeal, fruits, coconut milk, nuts & seeds. For lunch, it may be rice & beans with salads. To get through the day, vegans often snack on hummus, raw veggies, and nuts, & even more fruit. And for supper, foods like beans, tofu, grains, or potatoes are common.
Depending on the particular plant-based diet that you follow, the foods on your diet as a vegan should include:
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, pears, peaches, pineapples
- Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, squash, zucchini
- Nuts & Nut Butters: almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios, walnuts
- Seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds
- Protein Foods: natto, tempeh, tofu, nutritional yeast
- Legumes: beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas
- Whole Grains: barley, buckwheat, couscous, oats, quinoa
- Healthy Fats: avocados, olives, unrefined vegetable oils
- Plant-Based milk: almond milk, cashew milk, oat milk, soy milk
- Herbs and Spices: black pepper, cumin, ginger, garlic powder, turmeric
Foods To Avoid In A Healthy Vegan Diet
Usually, vegans do not eat all animal products, including dairy, eggs, fish, and meat. In some cases, they may avoid honey and products made using any ingredient derived from animals, for example, gelatin.
However, vegans’ diets can differ because while they all will stay away from animal products, some may include unhealthy foods or ingredients, such as artificial sweeteners, added sugars, and refined oils. As such, there’s the need to consider foods to dump if you want to keep to a healthy vegan diet.
- Meat: beef, lamb, pork bison.
- Poultry: chicken, duck, goose, turkey.
- Seafood: anchovies, mackerel tuna, salmon.
- Dairy Products: butter, cheese, milk, yogurt.
- Animal-Based Ingredients: carmine, casein, lard, gelatin.
By the way, vegan or no vegan, your diet should have little ultra-processed foods, as they are highly unhealthy.
Benefits Of Starting A Vegan Diet
If you’re doing away with all the deliciousness of beef, poultry, and eggs, then there better be excellent reasons to. That’s what I would think anyway, and fortunately, there are great benefits that a healthy vegan diet may avail you. Here we go.
Fosters Effective Weight-loss
For 70/100 persons, their primary focus of becoming vegans is to shed some weight, because why not? I’ve rarely heard of slimness as a precursor to diseases, but you can’t say the same for obesity or overweight.
By dumping animal products, which are the primary sources of body fat, incorporating more plant-based foods, and cutting down on the number of processed foods you eat, anyone would agree you’re losing weight. Because you’re not only cutting down on fats, you’re also eating less calories. This is a logical explanation, and it is also supported by scientific studies that have confirmed that vegans/vegetarians tend to weigh less than others.
Improves Gut Health
The beneficial bacteria in the gut that regulate a lot of body functions need fiber (along with probiotics) to flourish, and fortunately, plant-based foods are rich reservoirs of fiber. By consuming more fiber, you enable probiotics and prebiotics to maintain a more healthy gut environment.
The roles of these gut microbiomes are well pronounced in several aspects of the body, ranging from assisting mental sharpness to fat shedding.
A recent study (2019) established that the gut bacteria flourish better when on a vegan diet, even if for a short while. Diabetologia, the publishing journal, reported that by improving gut bacteria, a vegan diet positively influences several body processes, including blood sugar management and body composition.
Rich Source of Antioxidants & Enzymes
A vegan diet is basically fruits and veggies, and the two are excellent sources of antioxidants and enzymes. These are critically essential compounds in the body. Their presence in the body is associated with many amazing benefits, for instance, combating free radicals, which are cancer-causing cells.
Antioxidants can also help in tackling inflammation and preventing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease. Also, studies suggest that antioxidants may improve symptoms of autoimmune deficiencies, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and IBS.
Avoidance of Metabolic Syndrome
A healthy vegan diet helps prevent the risk factors of metabolic syndromes, such as diabetes, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. However, this isn’t common in all vegan diets as it is not a direct benefit of cutting out meat. Rather, it is determined by your overall nutrient consumption and the quality of carbs in the diet.
By eating more whole foods and avoiding processed ingredients, you can reduce inflammation, regulate blood sugar levels, and balance hormones—this helps reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Conclusion On Starting A Vegan Diet
Starting a vegan diet is much easier than sticking with it. It is common to see people who could only live as vegans for just 1 or 2 weeks before returning to their former diets, and this is understandable. Asides the fact that it takes the body time to adjust to a new lifestyle, a vegan diet is even a much more difficult adaptation. As such, commitment will play a significant part in your transition into a vegan.