The Vegan diet is not only a diet plan but also a way of living. People who choose this diet abstain from eating animal products and avoid clothes made from animal skins and byproducts. And they only use animal cruelty-free cosmetics.
Do not confuse vegans with vegetarians as they are not the same. Vegans, people who practice a vegan diet, do not eat any animal products, while vegetarians do not eat animals, but they can eat animal products like dairy, milk, or eggs.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
It is a diet made up of plant-based foods only, such as fruits, vegetables, soy, legumes, nuts, and nut butter. It also consists of plant-based dairy alternatives, sprouted or fermented plant foods, and whole grains. Animal foods like meat and seafood and animal products or animal-based ingredients are excluded from this diet.
Foods included in a vegan diet are rich in vitamins A, C, E, K and fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.
Types of Vegan Diet
Alina Petre mentioned in her article, The Vegan Diet – A Complete Guide for Beginners, that there are several varieties of a vegan diet. And, the most common are as follows:
- Whole-food vegan diet – based on a wide variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Raw-food vegan diet – based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, or plant foods cooked at temperatures below 118°F (48°C).
- 80/10/10 – it is referred to as the low-fat, raw-food vegan diet or fruitarian diet. It is a raw-food vegan diet that limits your intake of fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados. It relies mainly on raw fruits and soft greens instead.
- The starch solution – a low-fat, high-carb vegan diet that focuses on cooked starches like potatoes, rice, and corn instead of fruit.
- Raw till 4 – a low-fat vegan diet where raw foods are consumed until 4 p.m. You do have an option for a cooked plant-based meal for dinner.
- The thrive diet – a vegan diet where you eat plant-based, whole foods that are raw or minimally cooked at low temperatures.
- Junk-food vegan diet – a diet lacking in whole plant foods. It relies heavily on mock meats and cheeses, fries, vegan desserts, and other heavily processed vegan foods.
Pros and Cons of a Vegan Diet
Aside from a way to lose weight, the diet has some other health benefits. Some of these are as follows:
- Vegans can have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
- You are less prone to obesity. And, it may help lower blood sugar levels and lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
- It may reduce the risk of poor kidney function for diabetes who substitute meat with plant protein.
- The diet may reduce arthritis symptoms such as pain, joint swelling, and morning stiffness.
- There is a 15% lower risk of you developing or dying from cancer.
Unfortunately, no diet plan is perfect. There are several factors that people who plan to try a vegan diet must know.
- The vegan diet can help you lose weight, but excessive loss can become a gain. Many first-timers may find themselves hungrier than usual. Since the diet is restrictive, it may cause them to reach out for highly processed carbs, sugary and fatty foods.
- Nutritional drawbacks. Since the diet does not include animal products, vegans may lack some vital nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin B-12, and folate.
- It might get expensive over time. There are few vegan restaurants, and they can be costly. Supplements are needed due to a lack of nutrients because of food restrictions.
What Foods to Eat and Avoid
Foods to Eat
Below is a list of foods that vegans take.
- Protein-rich alternative – tofu, tempeh, or seitan.
- Legumes – beans, lentils, and peas.
- Nuts and nut butter – unblanched and unroasted varieties
- Seeds – hemp, chia, and flaxseeds
- Plant milk and yogurts that are calcium, B-12, and D fortified.
- Algae – Spirulina and chlorella
- Nutritional yeast – choose vitamin B-12 fortified varieties.
- Whole grains, cereals, and pseudocereals – Spelt, teff, amaranth, and quinoa.
- Sprouted and fermented plant foods – Ezekiel bread, tempeh, miso, natto, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and kombucha.
- Fruits and vegetables – leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress, and mustard greens.
Foods to Avoid
Vegans do not include animal products or any foods containing ingredients from animals in their diet. These include:
- Meat and Poultry – beef, lamb, pork, and others.
- Fish and seafood – all types of fish, shrimp, lobster, seashells, and others.
- Dairy – milk, yogurt, cheese, etc.
- Eggs – from chickens, quails, etc.
- Bee products – honey, royal jelly, etc.
- Animal-based ingredients – whey, lactose, carmine, egg white albumen, etc.
Before you start any diet plans, make sure to research it thoroughly or ask someone who knows about it. Don’t just follow a diet plan because it’s the latest trend. Or, it promises a quick result in losing weight. It is best if you considered your age, fitness levels, and overall health. You also need to consider food allowed in the diet that matches your personal dietary preferences.
When practicing a vegan diet, make sure that you are financially and emotionally capable of sustaining the diet plan once you start.