The vegetarian diet is part of a lifestyle that excludes the consumption or use of animal derived products. Vegans do not eat animal products, including honey, eggs, gelatin or dairy products. They also do not use it in any form of animal-derived clothing, soaps or other products. A vegan diet can be a highly nutritious choice as it is low in saturated fat and rich in nutrients. However, starting an animal-free diet without proper planning can pose some health risks. All protein, vitamins, and minerals must come from non-animal sources, so food selection and preparation is important. A survey study conducted in 2016 shows that 2.5 percent of people follow a vegan lifestyle.
What is the Vegan Diet?
The vegan diet excludes all foods from animals. The vegan diet includes food herbs and disposable food products that are not made from animal products. Animal products are important sources of protein, unsaturated fats, iron, vitamins and minerals in a person’s standard diet. Vegan people, on the other hand, need to find alternative sources of these nutrients. Reasons for following this diet can include preventing cruelty to animals, preventing environmental considerations, simply losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. Fresh produce can also be prepared at home, and some ready-made vegan meals are available at major grocery stores and specialist outlets. When a food is being packaged, it should indicate whether the ingredients are vegan-friendly or prepared completely without meat. Vegan-style food can be found in many restaurants, and some specialty restaurants only sell vegan-style food.
Vegan and Vegetarian
There are important differences between vegan and vegetarian diets that affect food selection and intake. The main difference is that vegetarians do not eat meat, but continue to consume dairy products and eggs. Vegans do not consume any animal products. This means it is less necessary for vegetarians to supplement food, for example they can get calcium from milk. On the other hand, vegans must find a source of plant-based calcium. Also, veganism refers to a range of lifestyle choices that exclude animal products, while vegetarianism is simply a dietary option.
A vegan diet can have extremely positive health effects. It is possible that a purely plant-based diet provides essential nutrients for health and also eliminates the risk of consuming potentially harmful animal fats.
Zero Animal Oils
Animal fats have been linked to a range of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and various cancers. Animal sources are likely to comprise 13 of the 15 largest sources of cholesterol-increasing fat. By removing them from the diet, the risk of many health problems can be greatly reduced. In addition, oils can transfer cancer-related industrial chemicals and toxins from their environment. Healthy, vegetable, fat and oils such as olive oil provide essential fatty acids without raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels.
Low Cancer Risk
Meat eaters have a higher risk of colorectal and prostate cancer. The vegan diet contains large amounts of legumes, fruits, vegetables, fiber and vitamin C, which are believed to protect against various cancers.
The vegan diet has shown benefits for the formation of new bone tissue. Calcium is important for bone and dental health, for the average person, milk and cheese are good sources of calcium. Perfect sources of calcium for a vegan include spinach, figs, kale, peas and turnip greens. For milk alternatives, such as soy milk, almond milk, and even vegan cheese are becoming more common. In addition, bones need vitamins D, K, potassium and magnesium. Soy, fruit, and some vegetables contain appropriate amounts of these nutrients without the health risks of animal fats. At the same time, daily sun exposure ensures that the body receives vitamin D. In addition, vegans have shown that calcium and bone metabolism, the process by which new bone tissue is formed, is absorbed more efficiently.
People on a vegan diet generally eat fewer calories than a standard Western diet. This can lead to a lower body mass index (BMI) and a reduced risk of obesity. A lower BMI is linked to lower overall LDL cholesterol concentrations and slightly lower blood pressure compared to vegetarians who continue to drink animal milk. The low levels of harmful cholesterol means that vegans have a lower risk of death from stroke and ischemic heart disease than people who eat meat.
Protection Against Chronic Diseases
Plant-based diets can prevent an individual from developing a chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes. A 2008 study also explains that bioactive compounds in plant foods can control biological factors that may work against genetic factors linked to some chronic diseases. Researchers claim that the antioxidants in plant-based foods can fight free radical cells that cause cell damage and inflammation. Other plant compounds can help control different genes associated with cardiovascular disease, arterial plaque and tumor growth.
People following a vegan diet may need to supplement some of the nutrients found only in animal products. The health risks of a purely plant-based diet are low, but careful planning is required to maintain nutritional balance. Vegans may be more prone to vital nutrient shortages. It is recommended that a person considering a completely vegan diet should gradually cut back from eating animal products. A meat alternative should be added first, then switch to other non-animal products, excluding animal products entirely. Some foods are likely to fall short in a vegan diet, but alternatives are available. It is important not to replace dietary meat with unhealthy foods. Great attention should be paid to food labeling and make sure dietary requirements are met. The transition to the vegan diet should be carefully planned and the impact of some dietary changes should be considered. The effect of dietary changes is as follows:
• Vitamin B-12: Vitamin B-12 is necessary to protect nerves and red blood cells, and some types are found only in animal products. Plant foods fortified with B-12, such as fortified soy, seaweed, cereals, and nutritional yeast, can replace lost intakes.
• Iron: Iron is an important nutrient for absorbing oxygen into the blood and carrying it to cells in the body. Dry beans and dark leafy greens may be better sources of iron per calorie than meat. Also, using a cast iron pan to prepare food is a good way to soak more iron into the food.
• Calories: A vegan diet can reduce calorie intake. While too many calories can lead to weight gain and related health problems, too few calories can lead to weight problems. When considering going vegan, one should be prepared to supplement the calories.
• Calcium: Calcium is essential for bone health and development. To raise calcium levels, more tofu, tahini and green leafy vegetables should be consumed.
• Vitamin D: Vitamin D protects against many cancers and chronic diseases, and also helps strengthen bones and teeth. Regularly consuming more vitamin D-fortified foods and spending time in the sun can increase vitamin D levels.
• Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and ALA: Omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil are vital for healthy heart, eye function and brain function. While another type of omega-3, EPA, cannot be obtained with a vegan diet, ALA and DHA can be found in ground flaxseed, walnut, canola oil, soy products, and hemp drinks.
• Zinc: Zinc deficiency can lead to hair loss, delayed sexual maturity for children, poor wound healing, immunological problems and dermatitis. In addition, whole grains, legumes, and soy products are rich in zinc.
A person who is transitioning to or following a vegan diet may want to ask their doctor if they should take supplements to replace certain nutrients or if they should consume more fortified foods.
Change from a limitless diet may seem daunting, but there are many simple, tasty and nutritious ways to pack a vegan diet with the nutrients needed. Some of the nutrients, textures, and flavors that occur in meat can be found in a combination of:
- Legumes and legumes
Overall, a vegan diet can contain much more nutrients than most diets on average. It points out that vegans tend to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, with an overall health condition that looks at least as good as vegetarians consuming eggs and dairy products. If the vegan lifestyle is in line with one’s worldview, changes can be made without harming one’s well-being.