What are your first thoughts when someone tells you they are vegan? Oh! They must be missing out on all the good things in life like pizza, ice cream, fried chicken, etc. but veganism is a choice that is made by an individual. Their motivations for eating this way may differ. Some vegans do it for health reasons as a plant-based diet may reduce the chance of developing certain diseases. While others abstain from eating meat because they do not want to harm animals or want to protect and preserve the environment. Plant-based foods are acceptable, but animal-based foods, including common items like eggs, cheese, milk, and honey, are just not acceptable.
While we focus on a balanced diet in our daily lifestyle, the vegan diet plan is a bit different. We get our main carbohydrate source mainly from cereals, pulses, and raw fruits while we are mostly dependent on animal sources for protein like fish, meat, milk, and eggs. The fat requirement and micronutrients are completed from the animal as well as plant-based sources. But a vegan diet is all about substituting animal-based products with plant-based products having similar nutritional values.
What is a vegan diet plan?
A vegan diet is a plant-based diet that does not include any animal products, such as meat, fish, dairy, or honey. The vegetarian diet, on the other hand, is a bit broader and allows dairy and eggs while excluding meat and fish. Focus on nutrient-dense whole foods, such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and, of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables, to gain the benefits of this eating lifestyle. You can gain all the nutrients your body requires with proper planning and an understanding of what makes a healthy, balanced vegan diet.
For a healthy vegan diet plan:
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables everyday
- Base meals on whole grains like barley, brown rice, whole wheat, oats, quinoa, sorghum, and whole-grain pasta.
- Have dairy substitutes such as soy, almond, cashew, oat, coconut milk, and yoghurts
- Protein substitutes include nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans.
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads like seed oils and nut butter, eat in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids
Benefits of a vegan diet plan
Vegans have stronger heart health and are less likely to develop certain diseases. Those who avoid meat have a lower risk of becoming obese or developing heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Vegans are also less prone to develop diabetes and some types of cancer, particularly tumors of the gastrointestinal system and the breast, ovaries, and uterus in women. Going vegan may potentially help you live longer, especially if you also reduce your regular calorie intake. It also helps in weight loss, thus avoiding all the unnecessary complications.
Potential downsides and precautions
A well-rounded vegan diet can be healthy and nutritious, but an unplanned vegan diet might be harmful to your health. Vegan diets may increase the risk of a variety of nutritional deficiencies. This is due to the fact that meat, fish, and poultry are high in various elements that are deficient in plant-based meals, such as protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eliminating these foods completely from your diet may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies. This can increase the risk of problems such as anemia, weaker bones, and decreased immunity.
Therefore, to ensure that you are achieving your nutritional needs, you must include a variety of nutrient-rich ingredients and fortified foods in your diet.
Vegan sources of nutrients:
- Calcium: green leafy vegetables, fortified soy, tofu, sesame seeds, pulses, dried fruits like raisins, prunes, and apricots
- Vitamin D: sunlight, fortified breakfast cereals, drinks, etc
- Iron: pulses, wholegrain flours, fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, and dried fruits.
- Vitamin B12: fortified cereals, flours, drinks, etc.
Omega 3 fatty acids: plant seed oils and nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc.
Veganism is finally a choice to be made considering its benefits and risks. You can start by giving up on foods one at a time and then acquire a vegan diet plan. But make sure you get the right nutrition.
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