Over the years, increasingly more people have decided to go vegan for ethical, environmental and or health reasons. Just like any diet there are pro’s and cons to the Vegan lifestyle. But with good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can ensure your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
What is the difference between a plant-based diet and a Vegan diet?
The primary difference between vegans and vegetarians is that vegetarians only avoid meat, while vegans avoid all animal-sourced products. Veganism generally extends to a lifestyle that involves not using any materials derived from animals, including leather, fur, wool, and silk. Household products, such as cosmetics and soaps are also excluded if they are made with or tested on animals.
What Vegan’s CAN eat:
- Nuts and seeds
- Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils
- Dairy alternatives such as soymilk, coconut milk, and almond milk.
- Tofu and other minimally processed meat substitutes
What Vegan’s CAN’T eat:
- Beef, pork, lamb, and other red meat
- Chicken, duck, and other poultry
- Fish, crabs, clams, and other shellfish
- Cheese, butter, eggs
- Milk, ice cream and other dairy products
- Vegan diets tend to provide more fiber, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. With a large portion of the vegan diet being whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans, this contributes to a higher daily intake of certain beneficial nutrients.
- May have a natural tendency to reduce your calorie intake, which can lead to weight loss, if that’s your goal. Many observational studies show that vegans tend to be thinner and have lower body mass indexes than non-vegans.
- Vegan diets have a higher consumption of whole grains, soy, and nuts all of which provide significant cardioprotective effects reducing the risk factors that contribute to heart disease.
- The Diet tends to lack in calcium, which is required for bone formation, muscle contraction, and other essential functions.
- The vegan diet generally, lacks B-12 because it’s found primarily in foods of animal origin including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk products.
- Protein intake can be another issue with the vegan diet. While animal proteins contain all of the essential amino acids, plant proteins are usually missing one or more of those amino acids. Animal sources of protein such as meat, fish, and eggs are considered complete proteins since they contain sufficient levels of all nine essential amino acids. On the other hand, only a few plant sources of protein provide all essential amino acids in required dietary ratios for example soy, quinoa, and spinach.
If you decide to try the vegan lifestyle out, make sure to include rich protein sources in your diet like beans or a quality pea protein powder! I would also recommend taking a B12 and a calcium supplement to combat the inefficiencies and ensure you are meeting all your nutritional needs!