The Benefits of a Vegan Diet
What does vegan mean?
Vegan is derived from the word veganism. A Vegan diet describes a special kind of meal which excludes all animal ingredients including meat, eggs, fish and any dairy products. However, being vegan is not only limited to the diet, but it can also be used to describe a complete lifestyle.
Veganism or vegan living is defined as a method of living that efforts to reject all forms of animal utilisation and brutality, whether for food, attire or any other purpose. In other words, it is a type of lifestyle which avoids any usage or animal products and by-products which use animal parts and animal made products. (eg;- leather, fur, wool, silk, animal fat, animal skins, honey, dairy products, animal oils, animal bones and hooves.) And also any other food products that use whey protein or gelatine. (eg;- chocolate, jelly, refined beans).
Vegan living is a lifestyle choice that anyone can make, basically, it can adapt due to any reasons like the healthy benefits of a vegan diet, believes, ethical issues, environmental or any moral reason. Most of the vegans choose this vegan living due to their passion for being a decent human being who cares about the future of animals.
What is a vegan diet?
Vegan diet describes a special kind of meal which excludes all animal ingredients including meat, eggs, fish and any dairy products. So it includes a lot of vegetables, fruits, grains, cereals, nuts, leafy greens, legumes and pretty much everything which grows on trees.
There are different types of vegan foods other than above which are made from plant parts and by-products. Some of them are vegan sausages, ice cream, cheese, soy milk, soy ice-cream and vegan mayonnaise tofu and various processed foods.
Types of vegan diets
There are different types of vegan diets.
- Whole food vegan diet - It is a diet composed with the majority of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and seeds.
- Raw-food vegan diet - It is a diet composed of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and seeds which is cooked below a temperature of 48°C/118°F.
- 80/10/10 diet, low-fat, raw-food vegan diet or fruitarian diet – It’s a vegan diet which limits fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados and gives priority to raw fruits and vegetables.
- The starch solution – Mainly depends on cooked carbohydrate-based foods like potatoes, rice and corn instead of vegetables and fruits.
- Raw till 4 – it is a routine where raw vegetables are consumed until 4 pm then consuming cooked vegetables and cereals after 4 pm
- The thrive diet – It is composed of vegetables which are minimally cooked or raw.
- Junk-food vegan diet- it is composed of processed vegan foods like fries, chips and tofu. There are some semi-vegan diets.
- Lacto-vegetarian diet- It rejects meat, fish, eggs and foods that contain them. But it includes milk and dairy products.
- Ovo-vegetarian diet- Although it rejects meat, fish and dairy products it includes eggs.
- Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diet - It excludes meat, fish and poultry, but allow dairy products and eggs.
- Pescatarian diets - It excludes meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs, but it allows fish.
- Flexitarian diet – It is a mixture of vegan and non-vegan diet where it is basically composed of plant-based products however it allows small quantities of meat, eggs and fish.
How to become a vegan?
If you are a vegetarian it is easy to become a vegan, however, if you are used to be a non-vegetarian for a long time it needs a lot of commitment. You can start with reducing one component at a time, like stop using meat, then fish and eggs and dairy products. Then finally any animal-based products.
The vegan diet is reasonably costly. This is due to the various prices of different vegetable and fruits. However, it can be managed if you reduce the consumption of processed foods and use seasonal vegetables and fruits.
It is important to have a broad knowledge about the foods that need to avoid and foods that can consume if you are planning to become a vegan.
Foods that need to be avoided
- Any meat (Beef, lamb, pork, veal, horse, organ meat, wild meat, chicken, turkey, goose, duck and quail)
- All types of fish and seafood (prawns anchovies, shrimp, squid, scallops, calamari, mussels, crab and lobster)
- Dairy products (Milk, yoghurt, cheese, butter, cream, ice cream and ghee)
- All types of eggs
- Bee products (Honey, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis. and mead)
- Animal-based ingredients (Whey protein, L-cysteine, cochineal or carmine animal-derived vitamin D3 casein, lactose, egg white albumen, gelatin, cochineal or carmine, isinglass, shellac, and fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids.)
Foods that need to be consumed
- Legumes – beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, kidney beans, black beans, soybeans, pinto beans, and navy beans.
- Nuts and nut butter- almonds, cashew, brazil nuts, chestnuts hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts pistachio, macadamia and walnuts.
- Seeds - hemp, chia and flax seeds
- Fortified plant milk and yoghurts - almond milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk, soy milk and hemp milk.
- Algae - spirulina and chlorella
- Nutritional yeast
- Whole grains, cereals - rice, barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oat, popcorn, wheat and bulgur.
- Sprouted and fermented plant foods - Ezekiel bread, tempeh, miso, natto, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and kombucha
- Leafy greens - bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress and mustard greens
- Tofu, tempeh and seitan
The healthy benefits of a vegan diet
These are some main healthy benefits of a vegan diet.
- It can reduce the weight, this is due to the prevention of consumption of fat-rich red meats. And also vegan diets are more prominent with healthy vegetable and fruits with a higher proportion of fibres that promotes quick digestion of carbohydrates.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes/blood sugar. High fibre intake with vegetables and fruits will blunt the blood sugar levels in the body. A vegan diet's weight loss effects may further contribute to its ability to lower blood sugar levels.
- It will promote heart health while reducing the risks of heart attacks and high blood pressure. This is due to the reduction of LDL and total cholesterol in the blood.
- Reduce the risk of cancers.
- Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease
- Reduce the symptoms of arthritis including pain, joint swelling and joint stiffness.
- Reduce the risk of poor kidney function.