Various studies have emphasized the health benefits of a vegan diet, including a lowered risk of chronic diseases and better weight management. However, choosing a balanced meal that has all essential nutrients in the required levels while on a vegan diet is not that easy. If your meal lacks nutrient balance, it may result in many health issues.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
A vegan diet does not include any animal products including fish, meat, eggs, honey, and dairy. It is stricter than vegetarianism because vegetarians may eat foods that are derived from animals if they aren’t directly harmed in the process of obtaining the food. For example, some vegetarians eat eggs and dairy because animals are not killed to obtain these foods. Several factors motivate people to choose veganism. It could be ethical reasons that inspire some to go vegan while others may choose the way of life for health reasons.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Veganism?
Research has suggested that veganism has a positive impact on various aspects of your health. A review suggested that vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure when compared to omnivores, who eat plant foods and animal foods. Vegans usually have lower cholesterol levels and lower body mass indices. Higher body mass index and higher blood cholesterol levels are the common causes of various health disorders.
A study involving 18 women found that following a vegan diet for 6 months resulted in decreased intake of calories and fat, and aided short term weight loss. Some research has also pointed out the benefits of a vegan diet in regulating blood sugar levels, and thereby reducing diabetes risk. A study involving 61,000 participants found that the likelihood of vegans developing type 2 diabetes is 2.6 times lesser than omnivores. A vegan diet can be useful in controlling osteoarthritis symptoms including joint pain and swelling. It is also known to reduce the risk of certain types of cancers.
A Sample Vegan Shopping List
A balanced vegan diet should include proteins, whole grains, fruits, healthy fats, and vegetables. Eating foods like seeds, nuts, legumes, nutritional yeast, and soy products are important to meet your daily protein requirement. Coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil are some vegan sources of healthy fats. Here is a sample shopping list for vegans.
- Vegetables: bell peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kale, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, and potatoes, etc.
- Fruits: Bananas, apples, peaches, pomegranates, strawberries, pear, blueberries, oranges, grapes, and lemons, etc.
- Brown rice
Breads And Pastas
- Whole wheat pasta
- Brown rice pasta
- Sprouted bread
- Brown rice wraps
- Nuts: Pecans, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, peanuts, and pistachios, etc.
- Seeds: Flax seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds, etc.
- Soy products: Tofu, and tempeh, etc.
- Protein powders: Brown rice powder, pea protein powder, and hemp protein, etc.
- Legumes: Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, pinto beans, and navy beans, etc.
- Flax meal
- Silken tofu
- Prepackaged vegan egg substitute
- Chia seeds
- Arrowroot powder
- Milk substitutes: cashew, almond, oat, coconut, flax, soy milk, and rice, etc.
- Yogurt substitutes: flax, cashew, coconut, almond, and soy yogurts, etc.
- Vegan cheese: vegan parmesan cheese, shredded and sliced varieties, etc.
- Monk fruit
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Pita chips
- Dark chocolate
- Seaweed crisps
- Trail mix
- Nut butter
- Roasted chickpeas
- Fruit leather
- Dried fruit
Spices And Condiments
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Ground ginger
- Garlic powder
- Nutritional yeast
All vegan foods need not be healthy. Eating a lot of processed vegan foods like vegan meat will affect your health adversely.
Factors To Consider When You Start A Vegan Diet
You have to consider some important factors when you start a vegan diet.
Animal foods like fish, meat, and poultry contain many important nutrients that may be lacking in plant foods. This includes protein, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and phosphorous. Animal foods like dairy and eggs are rich in protein, calcium, iodine, phosphorous, and magnesium.
Cutting these foods out of your diet may increase the chances of nutrient deficiencies. Vegans are usually at high risk of deficiency of iodine, vitamin B12, protein, vitamin D, and calcium. It is not that you have no vegan sources of these nutrients. Of course, there are vegan foods rich in these nutrients. You must include those foods in your meals.
Taking supplements is an easier way of meeting your nutritional needs while following a vegan diet. You can take multivitamin tablets that contain Zinc, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and vitamin D. You may also take algal oil, a plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acid.
If you have your vegan meals perfectly planned without them lacking any important nutrients, you can confidently go ahead with your decision to be vegan.