Ready to ditch bacon and steak and embrace the vegan lifestyle? Before you dive into the green diet just yet, here’s everything you’ll want to know about the world of veganism.
Being vegan shares similarities with being vegetarian, meaning your diet cannot include any type or form of meat, including fish and shellfish — basically, anything you kill in order to prepare as a dish. However, veganism is a purely plant-based diet that also cuts out animal-derived products like eggs, dairy, and honey for consumption.
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Enjoying a vegan diet
So, what do vegans eat? You can enjoy rich and diverse meals made of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, grains, tofu, and more in a vegan diet. There are also many alternatives available.
There’s a wide array of milk substitutes such as soy, oat, almond, and coconut.
Various products including vegan-friendly substitutes for cheese, cream, butter, and more are also available in stores.
Being vegan doesn’t mean you’ll have to eat salads all day. You’ll still be able to enjoy pastries, pizza, cake, and all kinds of food as long as they’re made purely with plant-based ingredients.
Benefits of veganism
What’s so great about going plant-based? People are choosing to switch to a vegan lifestyle for three main reasons:
Well-planned and balanced vegan diets can do wonders for your health. A plant-based diet allows you to consume more nutrient-rich food since fruits, veggies, and plant compounds tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins.
A plant-based diet can also promote weight loss and other health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, a healthier digestive system, and managing diabetes (since the vegan diet helps lower A1C levels.) It’s also good for keeping your brain healthy and strong.
Many people turn to veganism because of their compassion for animals. Animal advocates believe that all creatures have the right to life and freedom, which is why they abstain from consuming meat and animal by-products.
The decision to eat plant-based showcases a stand against animal cruelty and exploitation and lowers the market demand for them, so fewer animals suffer from farms and slaughterhouses.
The process of growing animal feed and meat production is said to have a negative impact on the environment. Raising animals on meat farms requires a lot of resources like water and acres of land, contributing to shortages and habitat loss. The overall process, including transport and factories, diminishes resources and contributes to pollution.
Choosing to become a vegan again helps reduce the demand for meat, in effect lessening the negative impact. It also promotes a plant-based diet as a more sustainable and affordable option in terms of production.
Why you should think again about being vegan
Veganism is a respectable lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a perfect diet for everyone, especially for the drawbacks and reasons listed below:
Dietary restrictions/lack of nutrients
Although plant-based diets are packed with specific vitamins and minerals, they also lack other essential nutrients like iron, vitamin B-12, zinc, vitamin D, calcium, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Not taking supplements and a poorly planned vegan diet can quickly lead to a lack of these nutrients, which can then cause a range of issues like micronutrient deficiency, poor health, low energy, weak immune system, and weight problems.
Pre-existing health conditions
If you have celiac disease, fructose intolerance, or are allergic to ingredients like soy, wheat, and gluten, it’s going to be more difficult for you to go on a vegan diet.
It’s also not the best eating lifestyle for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as plant-based meals can aggravate the condition. The same goes for those with genetic factors and digestive issues that can affect how they absorb the nutrients found in a vegan diet.
Cost, inconvenience, risks
The popularity of veganism has made various vegan options available on the market. However, they aren’t cheap. They cost more than the non-vegan kind and are also not common to find in most stores.
Additionally, going vegan can be considered a “high-maintenance” option as it requires more meal planning and commitment. You’ll have to be aware of what you eat, ensuring you have all the nutrients you need. Meanwhile, vegan options aren’t always available in restaurants, especially fast food.
As veganism is a restrictive diet, it can also be a precursor to developing eating disorders like orthorexia (an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating) and an unhealthy relationship with food.
To be or not to be vegan? It’s a significant change to your lifestyle! Think it over and consult your dietician for professional health advice before you take on veganism.