According to a poll, almost one in 10 Brits (8%) are already eating a plant-based diet, while one-third (34%) are either interested in trying or plan to try a vegan or plant-eating diet.
This lifestyle may have many advantages, but there are certain downsides to consider if you are thinking of going vegan. Read on to find out what a vegan diet actually involves and how you can live a healthy vegan life.
Should you go vegan?
Vegans do not eat any foods of animal origin. Unlike vegetarians, they don’t even consume eggs, dairy, fish, or animal by-products (such as gelatine and honey). An increasing number of people are opting to go vegan for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Let’s take a look at the main pros and cons of adopting this lifestyle.
Reduced risk of disease
A plant-based diet reduces risks for common illnesses and diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. It also lowers incidences of obesity, high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
A vegan diet includes a lot of fruits and vegetables. Vegans also tend to experiment more with lesser-known vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and whole grains. All of these are excellent sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
Taking the recommended 25 to 38 grams of fibre every day is easier when you eat a vegan diet based on plant foods. Fibre is essential for healthy and quick digestion, so vegans often have better digestion and bowel movements.
A restricted diet helps vegans to lose a few pounds, which is great news if your doctor recommends losing some weight. Not eating meats, high-fat cheeses, or conventional buttery cakes and cookies means less saturated fat and more low-calorie foods like salads and fresh produce.
Lack of essential nutrients
Some nutrients are hard to get without animal sources. These include calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12, iron, zinc, and folate. Without supplementing your diet with vitamin pills or fortified cereals, the lack of these nutrients can cause bone and muscle loss.
Lack of protein
This diet does not include meat, which is the most popular protein source. Therefore, vegans, especially expectant mothers, run a greater risk of suffering lowered immunity or contracting an infection, as their protein intake comes completely from a plant-based diet. Among other things, a protein deficiency can cause fatigue, hair loss, and swelling.
One of the staples of a vegan diet is soy, usually in the form of processed products such as soy milk and tofu. These products contain phytoestrogens, which can negatively impact the hormonal levels of the body. Hormonal imbalance can cause breakouts on the skin, hair fall, irregular menstrual cycle, skin pigmentation problems, and more.
A meat-free diet is linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety than omnivorous eating, according to a recent analysis. This can be explained by lower amounts of some nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12, which can affect your mood.
How do vegans get enough vitamins?
A well-planned, balanced vegan diet can provide you with all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Yet, if your diet doesn’t plan properly, you could miss out on essential nutrients. Vegans need to pay special attention to the following nutrients:
A variety of proteins from different sources is necessary to get the right mixtures of amino acids, which build and repair the body’s cells. Vegans can get protein in their diet from sources such as pulses and beans, cereals (wheat, oats, and rice), soy products (tofu, soya drinks, soya mince), nuts, and seeds.
It is possible to get enough iron even without meat. Good sources of iron, suitable for vegans, include beans, lentils, peas, nuts, dried fruit, dark-green vegetables, whole grains, and brown bread cereals fortified with iron.
Plant-based foods which are rich in zinc include whole grains, wheat germ, tofu, sprouted bread, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Vegans need to eat plenty of these foods throughout the day to reach the RDA of 8–11 mg of zinc per day for adults.
Vitamin B12 is crucial for protein metabolism, the formation of red blood cells, and the health of your nervous system. Foods rich in vitamin B12 include unwashed organic produce, mushrooms spread in B12-rich soils, nori, spirulina, chlorella, and nutritional yeast.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids suitable for vegans include flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, soya oil and soya-based foods (such as tofu), and walnuts. Yet, some evidence suggests that the type of omega-3 fatty acids found in these foods may not have the same benefits for reducing the risk of heart disease as those found in oily fish.
Modern food production systems and lifestyles make it more difficult for everyone – vegans or not – to get all they need from diet alone. Appropriate supplementation should be an integral part of healthy vegan nutrition.
It is also essential to get the right supplements. You have to get the necessary nutrients in the proper form, quantity, and quality.
Goodwill Pharma’s Astax+3 Direct is an all-around supplement and immune booster with ingredients suitable for a vegan diet.
There are many reasons why more and more people are going vegan. This diet and lifestyle can make you healthier and stronger in the long run. Yet, if you want to make the transition safe for your body, you will need additional nutrition knowledge.
A carefully planned plant-based diet should be supported by taking enough supplements. If you are not sure what your body needs, you might consider seeking advice from a dietitian specialising in vegan nutrition.
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