Going Vegan? — A Guide for Beginners

The vegan diet has become very popular over the years with more and more people joining the lifestyle. Increasingly more people have decided to go vegan for ethical, environmental or health reasons.

Veganuary is a month long movement that aims at encouraging non-vegans to try the vegan diet for a month to see the benefits the lifestyle has.

When done right, such a diet may result in numerous health benefits, such as a weight loss and improved blood sugar control. However, a diet based exclusively on plant foods can in some cases increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Let’s begin unpacking all you need to know about joining the vegan lifestyle the right way.

What Is the Vegan Diet?

What is a vegan DIET?

Veganism is defined as a way of living that excludes all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing or any other purposes.

The vegan diet thus avoids all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy.

People choose to follow a vegan diet for various reasons. These usually range from ethics to environmental concerns, but they can also stem from a desire to improve their health.

Different Types of Veganism

Prominent types of this lifestyle include:

  • Dietary vegans — Often used interchangeably with “plant-based eaters,” this refers to those who avoid animal products in their diet but continue to use them in other products, such as clothing and cosmetics.

As mentioned before, people go vegan for a variety of ethical, environmental and health reasons. Here are a few of the most common reasons:

1.Can Help You Lose Weight.

  • High in fiber — Fiber intake is key for weight loss and overall health. Fiber keeps us satiated and full until our next meal, and also helps prevent the temptation to snack. It also assists with regular bowel movements.

2. Can help assist Blood Sugar and Diabetes.

By eating a healthy vegan diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat, but balanced enough to include fiber and protein, blood glucose levels can be easier to control. This type of diet, particularly when combined with exercise, can also help to lower blood glucose levels and better manage diabetes.

3.Ethics

Veganism is a lifestyle for many who strongly believe that all living creatures have the right to life and freedom. Therefore, they are against ending a conscious being’s life simply to consume its flesh, drink its milk, or wear its skin.

Ethical vegans are also opposed to the psychological and physical stress that animals may endure as a result of modern farming practices.

4.Environmental Reasons

People may also choose to avoid animal products because of the environmental impact of animal agriculture. A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth as it assists not just with greenhouse gases but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use.

Other Health Benefits of Vegan Diets

Vegan diets are linked to an array of other health benefits including :

  • Cancer risk: According to a 2017 review, eating a vegan diet may reduce a person’s risk of cancer by 15%. This health benefit may be due to the fact that plant foods are high in fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals (biologically active compounds in plants that protect against cancers).

Plant foods are high in fiber, which is linked to better heart health. Animal products contain very little or no fiber, while plant-based vegetables and grains are the best sources.

Vegan vs. Vegetarian

Vegan Blog

The main difference between vegetarians and vegans is that although vegetarians do not eat meat, they do consume dairy products, eggs, or both. The vegan diet excludes all products with animal-based ingredients.

Foods to Avoid

Vegans avoid eating any animal foods, as well as any foods containing ingredients derived from animals. These include:

  • Meat and poultry: Beef, lamb, pork, veal, organ meat, wild meat, chicken, turkey, duck, etc.

Foods to Eat

Health-conscious vegans substitute animal products with plant-based replacements, such as:

  • Tofu, tempeh and seitan: These provide a versatile protein-rich alternative to meat, fish, poultry and eggs in many recipes.

Risks of Veganism and How to Minimize Them

Favouring a well-planned diet that limits processed foods and replaces them with nutrient-rich ones instead is important for everyone and not only vegans.

Those that follow poorly planned vegan diets are particularly at risk of certain nutrient deficiencies. Studies have shown that vegans are at a greater risk of having inadequate levels of vitamin B12, vitamin D, long-chain omega-3s, iodine, iron, calcium and zinc. Your genetic makeup and composition of your gut bacteria also play an important role regarding your body’s ability to derive the nutrients you need from a vegan diet.

There are different ways to minimise the likelihood of deficiencies such as;

  • Limit processed vegan foods.

Supplements Vegans should Consider

Vegan Blog 2

Vegans unable to meet their recommended nutrient intakes through foods or fortified products alone should consider taking supplements. The following supplements can be particularly beneficial while following a vegan diet:

  • Vitamin B12

Closing thoughts

Individuals may choose veganism for ethical, environmental or health reasons. When done right, the vegan diet can be easy to follow and may provide various health benefits. Veganism is not for everyone and that’s ok! But what we do suggest is that you at least try to eat a diet that includes more plant based items as every little change in the plant based direction can make a massive impact in the end!

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DISCLAIMER!

This blog is made available by OPTMZ. We are not medical professionals, nutritionists or dieticians. Please do not make any changes to your lifestyle or diet without discussing it with your health care practitioner. Every single individual is unique, therefore, you are responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health. The information in this blog is based on research and all content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should also not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.