Today, a basic vegan diet is more popular than it was even a few decades ago. While many people, who are interested in adopting a vegan lifestyle, often become too overwhelmed by the restrictions and substitutions, veganism isn’t as difficult as it was in the past.
Whether you’re a vegetarian that wants to adapt to a full vegan diet or you would like to gain a better understanding of vegan diet basics, we will tell you everything you need to know so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.
What is Veganism?
Eating a vegan diet may seem like a relatively new idea, but people have identified as vegans for centuries. It wasn’t until 1944 when Donald Watson came up with the name, “veganism,” to associate with the lifestyle.
Veganism consists of eating a diet that is free of all animal products, which includes meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, and gelatin. Many vegans also avoid wearing any clothing or use any products that contain lanolin, wool, silk, suede, fur, and leather.
The concept of veganism is to minimize any harm to animals, and while some vegans choose their lifestyle for ethical reasons, others choose it for religious or spiritual reasons. A “true” follower of a vegan lifestyle doesn’t wear, eat, or use any product that is part of an animal. Even if you eat a vegan diet, but wear a wool sweater, many would not classify you as a vegan.
A Basic Vegan Diet
Many people who are unfamiliar with a vegan diet assume that being a vegetarian is the same as being vegan. A vegetarian typically doesn’t eat meat products but may use honey or consume eggs. Some people also assume that vegans aren’t able to enjoy a fulfilling diet filled with variety; eating vegan is much more than produce and legumes.
People, who are interested in going vegan often ask, “what is a typical vegan diet?” One of the unique things about a basic vegan diet is that people can enjoy as much variety as they might with a non-restrictive diet. When eating vegan, finding the right nutritional balance is one of the most important things to remember.
Keep in mind that not every vegan eats the same, but a typical well-balanced daily diet should include about six servings of grains, five servings of legumes, nuts, and other protein, four servings of vegetables, two servings of fruit, and two servings of a healthy fat.
Many of the foods that vegans eat are probably already a part of your non-vegan diet. Some examples include bread (without milk or butter), nuts, potatoes, soy milk, avocado, and coconut oil.
There are so many unique vegan foods available in the supermarket, such as cheese, ice cream, and other desserts, that taste almost identical to the “real” version that some would have a hard time figuring out which food item is vegan.
The Benefits Of Eating A Vegan Diet
While many vegans choose to eat an animal-free diet for personal, ethical, and even ecological reasons, some people can improve their health by eating a basic vegan diet. It’s important to keep in mind that the benefits of eating an animal-free diet may vary from one individual to the next.
Before you adopt a vegan lifestyle, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor or even a nutritionist to make sure it’s the right choice for you, particularly if you have any health issues. Here are some of the most common benefits associated with eating a vegan diet.
Consume More Vitamins and Minerals
When a someone eats a well-balanced vegan diet, he or she is most likely to eat a more nutrient-rich diet than someone who has a non-restrictive diet. Vegan diets typically have more fiber, antioxidants, and an abundance of essential vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins A, E, and C.
We stress “well-balanced” because a vegan diet requires a little extra research, especially in the beginning. There are many quick, “go to” vegan foods that aren’t as nutritious as one may think. Like any diet, balance is essential, and just because you choose to go vegan, it doesn’t mean that your food choices are necessarily healthier than what other people eat.
A Healthier Heart
If you are at a high-risk of cardiovascular disease or have high blood pressure or cholesterol issues, you may want to consider a vegan diet. A well-balanced vegan diet, full of fresh produce, legumes, and high fiber can reduce your risk of heart disease and may even help lower your blood pressure and keep your cholesterol levels healthy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States. One study reveals that about 40 percent of vegans lower their risk of dying from heart disease because of their dietary choices.
A Healthy Diet For People With Diabetes
If you live with diabetes, you know how important it is to think carefully about the food you eat; a basic vegan diet might make it managing your diabetes a little easier.
Vegans typically have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity, and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some studies suggest that a vegan diet may be better suited for some individuals rather than other restrictive diets designed specifically for someone with diabetes.
According to one study, nearly 40 percent of individuals who ate a vegan diet were able to lower their dosage of diabetes medication compared to about 25 percent of individuals who followed a diet created by the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
Success With Weight Loss
Eating a well-balanced vegan diet may help shed some pounds. The nutrient-rich and plant-based diet leave people feeling fuller longer and as a result, eat fewer calories each day. When planning your vegan diet, with weight loss as your goal, you still need to be mindful of your food choices.
Reducing Cancer Risks
Many environmental, genetic, and lifestyle factors can increase your risk of having cancer but according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately one-third of all cancers can be prevented through lifestyle changes like your diet.
Eating a diet of legumes and fresh produce may reduce your risk of dying from cancer by around 15 percent. An increase in soy products and eliminating smoked and processed meats is also one of the many reasons why becoming vegan might keep you cancer-free.
Keep You Feeling Better Overall
Eating a well-balanced diet free of animal products and other processed foods can help you feel better overall. Many vegans have more energy throughout the day, clearer skin, get better sleep, and even have less chronic pain, due to the lack of foods that typically cause inflammation.
Tips For A Vegan Diet
Do you think that a vegan diet might be a good change in your life? Here are some vegan diet tips to consider before you get started.
Talk To Vegans
Before you clear out your fridge or pantry and head to the grocery store, take a little time to research what a daily vegan menu might look like. Talking to a nutritionist is a good starting point, as they have lots of advice and useful resources. Buying a cookbook or two can also help you get inspired.
Do you have any friends, family, or coworkers who eat vegan diets? If so, they can offer invaluable advice and even show you how to cook or shop for vegan-friendly food items.
Be Patient and Open To New Foods
You’re less likely to be successful at converting to a vegan diet if you aren’t open to trying new foods. If there are certain vegetables that you don’t like, there’s a good chance that you can eliminate them from your diet, but you may want to reconsider eating them.
The vegan diet is full of unique and interesting ways to make food. Many people think that they hate certain foods, but they eat up enjoying them once they are prepared differently.
Another important thing to remember is practicing patience. Going vegan can be a long and arduous journey for some. A vegan diet requires reading more labels, being more mindful about what you eat, and having to do a little more planning. It might not be easy at first, and you might make a few mistakes, but over time (and with persistence) it might be an easy lifestyle change.
When some people make a significant change in their diets, they get too stressed out and forget to enjoy their new journey with food. As you become more comfortable eating a vegan diet, why not host a vegan dinner party or potluck? Search for unique recipes, such as vegan cheese, and create new challenges for yourself in the kitchen.