A Vegan Diet slowly and steadily is becoming a part of everybody’s lifestyle. Vegans’ eat vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and all the other products made from plants. They don’t eat animals and animal products for the sake of environment, health and religious reasons. Some consider eating animals as unethical activity towards animals. In short, the motivational root to opt Vegan diet is varied.
According to researchers, Vegan Diet can have health benefits, if planned well. Those who shift their diet from rich meat to a Vegan diet can lead to several drastic changes in their body. Vegan diet needs a proper planning to meet average person’s need for protein and several other nutrients and essential amino acids.
How Vegan Diet is beneficial?
We all know that average Vegan Diet is high in vitamin C and fibre and low in saturated fat. Also, Vegans have low BMI than meat consumers. High saturated fatty food are related to increased cholesterol levels and high risk of heart disease.
No doubt, the animal production requires water and crops for animals. The transportation of animals and products creates a destructive greenhouse gas i.e. methane from cattle. Grains are required to feed animals for slaughter which leads to deforestation. On the other hand, a plant based diet also requires natural resources and its environmental impact is known to be less and more sustainable.
According to various reports, Vegan diet followers comparatively have lower body weights, low cholesterol and low blood pressure. Vegans are likely seen consuming more fibre, vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and less saturated fats. Vegan diet proved beneficial for obese children by decreasing their BMI, cholesterol and improvements in blood lipids etc.
Keeps Glucose level in control
Vegan Diet improves insulin sensitivity and reduce the chance of developing diabetes. In several cases, doctors suggested diabetic persons to follow vegan diet. As it results in improvements in blood glucose control and sometimes help in reduction of medications. Plant based diet are high in fibres which has a great impact on glycemic response and weight control.
Maintain Bone health and Heart health
Calcium is very important for our bone health. It is observed that Vegans typically consume less calcium rich diet and as a result their numbers are high in case of getting fractures. At least 525 milligrams of calcium is required daily to consume for better bone health. Vegans can choose figs, spinach, peas etc. as a great source of calcium. Soy milk, almond milk and vegan cheese can be a best alternatives. Our bones need vitamin D, K, potassium and magnesium which vegans can get from soy, fruits and several vegetables without the health risks of animal fats. Regular exposure to sun helps body to make vitamin D on its own. Few vegetables that can be included in our diet are broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kale, collards etc.
In a survey it was found that vegans have low risk of cardiac attacks. High fibre whole grain and legumes are found good for heart protection as they are easily digested and have low glycemic index. Soluble fibrous food reduces cholesterol levels. Nuts are too seen as a heart protective. They have low glycemic index and contain antioxidants, fibres, minerals and healthy fatty acids. Also, due to their fat contents, even a small amount of nuts can satisfy the appetite. But, be careful friends, nuts have lot of calories so limit your daily intake.
Bioactive compounds in plant foods can work against genetic factors which are related to some chronic diseases. It is already proven that antioxidants in plant based foods can fight free radical cells that cause cell damage and inflammation.
Health risks through Vegan Diet
Removing certain food from your diet will make you potentially at a risk of missing several micronutrients. Vegan, if not careful, can be at a risk of being low in calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc etc. Person following a vegan diet need to get enough of these nutrients through vegan food sources and sometimes need to take additional supplements. While choosing non-dairy alternatives, try to opt fortified options like unsweetened soya milk for calcium, vitamin B, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Tahini, a sesame seed paste, is a good source of calcium, zinc and iron and can be used in different recipes.
Protein deficient – Eggs anddairyproducts are rich in protein but vegans need alternative. There are several plant sources that can save a vegan from protein deficiency. Vegan diet which are full of protein are peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, seeds, nuts, wheat, oats, barley, brown rice etc. Eating such a wide variety of protein sources every day is more than sufficient.
Vitamin B12 deficient – Vitamin B12 is essential for protecting nerves and red blood cells. It is found only in animal products. So, vegans, don’t lose heart. You can eat food fortified with vitamin B12 like soy, rice, seaweed, nutritional yeast, some beverages and cereals or one can also take vitamin B12 supplement to avoid a deficiency which can cause neurological problems and anaemia.
Omega 3 fatty acids deficient – Fish and eggs are high in essential elements EPA and DHA. Our body have an ability to convert ALA in plant food to EPA and DHA but not very effectively. Vegan diet include DHA from algae supplements which maximizes blood levels of DHA and EPA by retroversion. DHA fortified food and soy milk are easily available in the market. ALA is also found high in flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil and soy.
Iron deficient – We all knowthat iron is important for absorbing oxygen into blood and transporting it to cells in the body. For vegans, dried beans and dark leafy greens can be a best source of iron. And yes, using cast-iron utensils to prepare food is a best way to absorb more iron into the food.
Becoming a Vegan requires proper planning and correct knowledge of plant based nutrition. Eat healthy balanced diet by eating plenty of different fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses. Also, plan accordingly and be aware of the nutrients, as you may be at risk of being deficient. Don’t replace dietary meat with unhealthy foods. Go through food labelling carefully and be sure that your dietary needs are being met. Many benefits can become useless by deficiencies if the diet is not managed carefully.
Vegan diet can be good only if individual ensure that they are getting all macro and micronutrients like iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids. Choosing vegan diet has environmental and ethical benefits too much more than health benefits. Most importantly, person should not feel stressed to follow a vegan diet if it is getting tough. Not to forget that vegan diet needs more time in cooking and planning meals than a non-vegan diet.
With proper planning and right preparation, a vegan diet can definitely be good for human health.