With more celebrities turning to a vegan diet for a healthier lifestyle, it is clear that this lifestyle is quickly gaining popularity worldwide. As a meat-lover recently turned vegan, I can attest that it was not easy making the transition- it never is. However, after six months of clean living, I feel healthier than ever and so will you.
Despite the popularity surrounding veganism, many people remain clueless to what exactly this lifestyle entails. It is not just about turning down a beef patty for a tofu patty in your burger. It is way more than that.
What is a vegan diet?
Veganism is a lifestyle that attempts to exclude any form of animal exploitation- whether it is for clothes, food or any other inhumane purpose. While many people often associate the lifestyle with sandal-wearing hippies, veganism is more rampant than most people realize. All over the globe, there are people who voluntarily abstain from meat, eggs, cheese, mayonnaise, honey, whey, gelatin and every other food product from animals.
However, as difficult as this lifestyle sounds, it is actually a very rewarding way to live. Check out these health benefits of veganism:
5 benefits of going vegan
1. A vegan diet can help you to lose weight
There is a reason why most vegans tend to be slim and fit. Due to their healthy diet, vegans often have a lower body mass. This explains why most people go vegan when they are trying to get healthy and lose some weight.
The vegan lifestyle is healthy for various other reasons other than its meat-free diet. Alongside their diet, most vegans embrace physical activity.
2. A vegan diet is good for a healthy heart
A vegan diet may keep away cardiovascular diseases. According to a recent study, vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing heart-related issues such as high blood pressure. Vegans also have a 42% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.
In fact, a vegan diet is the best, natural way of lowering high blood pressure as well as managing cholesterol and sugar levels in the body.
3. A vegan diet is good for managing type 2 diabetes
A vegan diet is a great way to keep type 2 diabetes at bay. Several research studies point towards vegans developing a high level of sensitivity. This is particularly true of vegans who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, a vegan diet is a great way to manage high blood sugar levels in people who have type 2 diabetes. In fact, this diet is 2.4 times likely to be recommended by ADA, AHA, and NCEP.
The different types of vegan diets
There are several types of veganism. Before you make the transition, you should conduct sufficient research and pick what will work best for you:
1. Whole food vegan diet
This type of veganism is based on consuming a large variety of whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
2. Raw food vegan diet
This type of veganism is based on a diet that mainly constitutes raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds or plant food cooked at below 48⁰C.
This type of veganism diet limits fat-rich plants like nuts and avocados. Instead, these type of vegans opts for raw fruits and soft greens. This diet is also referred to as low-fat, raw food vegan diet or fruitarian diet.
4. The starch solution
This type of vegan diet is based on a low-fat diet that is high in carbs. This type of diet allows for the ingestion of cooked starch such as potatoes, corn, and rice instead of fruit.
5. Raw till 4
This is a unique low-fat vegan diet that allows the consumption of raw foods until 4 pm.
6. The thrive diet
This is a raw-food vegan diet with plant-based whole foods that are eaten raw or cooked at very low temperatures.
3 things you need to know before going vegan
1. You’ll need a B12 supplement
When making the switch from an omnivorous diet to a vegan diet, there are several things that you will need to learn, fast. One of the things you will learn is that Vitamin B12 only naturally occurs in animal foods. Therefore, you will need to find ways to stock up on your B12-fortified foods. You may even need to get a B12 supplement.
Lack of B12 may lead to certain health complications such as tiredness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness, depression or even nerve damage.
However, before you get started on B12 supplements, consult your doctor. B12 is one of those vitamins that can cause health problems when overdosed.
2. You do not need to make the switch all at once
Making the switch is never an over-night thing. Therefore, take it easy. You should not expect to wake up one morning and magically be a vegan. The whole process is more of a transition more than anything.
According to vegan guru Henderson, “Start by adding more plant-based foods to your diet, while at the same time cutting back on animal products, especially those that are non-organic, and more importantly processed, refined foods. Making gradual changes and assessing how you are feeling along the way is key,”
You may even find it easier to make the transition if you take it slow. Remember your body has had a long time to get used to meat toxins.
3. You’ll have to find new protein sources
This one is pretty obvious. Nevertheless, you will be surprised by how quickly you may run out of protein options if you do not research thoroughly beforehand.
For you to eat a balanced diet, every meal should contain protein. Proteins are the building blocks of life. They are responsible for cell growth and repair. According to the Institute of Medicine, adults need approximately 0.8 grams of protein per day for every kilogram of body mass. This translates to about 54 grams of protein for a 150-pound woman.
For vegans, the best sources of proteins are lentils, beans, soy, quinoa, seitan.