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The Vegan Diet: A complete guide to eating well

A vegan diet is usually free of animal foods and this includes eggs, honey and dairy products. Strict vegans can also choose to avoid animal products like wool, silk, beeswax, leather, and fur.

If you’re one of the 9.6 million Americans who consider themselves vegan, you’re most likely following a plant-based plan that includes legumes, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and fruits. Veganism has grown in popularity in recent years, and it can have many potential health benefits.

A meta-analysis published in Journal of Internal Medicine (opens in new tab) found that not eating meat increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, and more Type 2 diabetes. Other research in the peer-reviewed journal nutrient (opens in new tab) found that a plant-based diet can lower cholesterol, regulate blood sugar (glucose) levels, and lower high blood pressure.

Would you like to find out more? Read on to learn everything you need to know about going vegan, including all the risks and considerations. Also check out ours Vegan meal plan for beginners.

What is the vegan diet?

Vegans avoid anything derived from animals, both food and by-products like meat, dairy, and eggs. Some people also avoid eating honey.

“Vegan diets usually include lots of fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds,” says the nutritionist Kiran Singh (opens in new tab). “Eating a variety of these foods provides a wide range of important vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and proteins. For some, going vegan is a diet choice, while for others it’s a lifestyle choice.”

People who choose a plant-based diet for nutritional or allergy reasons are referred to as diet vegans, while those who adopt the diet for moral and political reasons are referred to as ethical vegans.

So, What is the difference between veganism and vegetarianism? Many consider veganism to be a stricter form of vegetarianism and consider it more of a lifestyle or exercise than just a diet.

What are the benefits of a vegan diet?

weight management

adoption a vegan diet for weight loss? Research published in Journal of Geriatric Cardiology (opens in new tab) found that the risk of obesity decreased by 7% with each year of vegan eating. And a Study 2017 (opens in new tab) found that people who ate plant-based foods weighed less, on average, than those who ate meat, dairy, and eggs.

Can regulate blood sugar levels

If you have diabetes, a healthy vegan diet can help you regulate and maintain your blood sugar levels. one to learn (opens in new tab) found that those who followed a low-fat vegan diet were not only able to lower their blood sugar levels and lose weight, but also lower their cholesterol levels and improve kidney function.

May reduce risk of disease

Singh says: “Fruits and vegetables contain a lot of essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vegans have better heart health and a lower risk of developing certain diseases. Those who avoid meat have a lower risk of developing heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Vegans are also less likely to get diabetes and some types of cancer, particularly cancer of the gastrointestinal (gut) and breast, ovaries and uterus in women.”

fiber boost

A well-followed plant-based diet can result in higher fiber intake due to an increase in starchy foods such as whole grains and certain vegetables. However, most people do not eat enough fiber. Americans eat an average of 10-15 grams of fiber per day, but the USDA recommends that the daily adult amount is 25 g for women and 38 g for men. Women and men over the age of 50 should consume 21 and 30 grams, respectively. A vegan diet is one way to increase your fiber intake.

“The focus of a more plant-based diet should really be on what you can add to your diet — lots of micronutrients, for example — versus what you take away,” says Singh.

What can you eat on a vegan diet?

On a vegan or plant-based diet, you can eat the following foods:

  • Protein: Tofu, seitan, tempeh, edamame
  • Carbohydrates: Bread, rice, pasta, potatoes
  • fruit and vegetables
  • Legumes: Peas, beans and lentils
  • Healthy Fats: Seeds, Chia Seeds, Nuts, Coconut, Flaxseed, Vegetable Oils
  • Milk alternatives: Soy milk, coconut milkRice Milk, Nut Milk, Cashew Butter
(Image credit: Getty Images)

What foods should you avoid if you’re vegan?

Vegans exclude all foods derived from animals, including:

  • Beef, pork, lamb and other red meats
  • Chicken, duck and other poultry
  • Fish or shellfish such as shrimp, clams and mussels
  • eggs
  • cheese, butter
  • Milk, cream, ice cream and other dairy products including milk chocolate
  • Mayonnaise (because it contains egg yolk)
  • Treasure

Are there any risks with a vegan diet?

“A Vegan diet is healthy Overall, however, avoiding animal proteins can leave you deficient in some nutrients like protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D,” says Singh.

“You need protein to power all of the chemical reactions in your body. Calcium strengthens your bones and teeth. Omega-3 fatty acids keep your cells healthy and protect your heart by protecting against heart disease and stroke.”

Need to add?

Should Vegans Take Supplements? “The three supplements typically recommended are B12, vitamin D, and iodine, but it’s important to consult a licensed dietician or nutritionist if you’re looking for specific supplement information,” says Singh.

He adds: “B12 is impossible to get from plant sources alone. The body uses it to make red blood cells and DNA, and you only find B12 in animal products. If you follow a vegan diet, you may need a supplement to make up for what you’re not getting from your diet.

“Many people may assume that plant-based foods are automatically healthy. This can be a common misconception when it comes to plant-based foods like granola, granola bars, soft drinks, fast food, and ice cream.

“Just because something is vegan doesn’t make it healthy. Whether you’re vegan or not, you’ll benefit most from eating a varied and balanced diet with plenty of water to stay hydrated, while limiting foods and drinks high in sugar and salt.

“Make it a point to include an abundance of different fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eat whole grains, potatoes, oats, and brown rice, which are high in fiber and starch. Aim for organic proteins, which are found in beans, tofu, soy, and chickpeas.” You can also increase your protein intake with the Best vegan protein powder.

The Vegan Diet: A complete guide to eating well Source link The Vegan Diet: A complete guide to eating well