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The What, How and Why of Following a Vegan Diet
What the Diet is All About
It's pretty simple, actually. You can eat virtually anything you want on a vegan diet except animals and sometimes animal byproducts. This includes:
- Animal meats like ham, pork, beef, venison, etc.
It can also include products that come from animals such as eggs, cheese, mayonnaise, honey, gelatin, etc.
Everything else is on the table and should be on your plate. Foods that you should be focusing on when sticking to a vegan diet include:
All types of beans, lentils, and peas fall into this category. Legumes are an incredible source of protein, and if you're avoiding animal-sourced proteins, legumes are your best bet for getting the necessary daily requirements. As an added bonus, legumes contain fiber, iron, folate, manganese, zinc, antioxidants, and other nutrients that improve digestion and keep your body functioning properly.
Nuts and seeds
You’d be amazed at what vegans have done with nuts and seeds in the past few years. You can find everything from thick nut butter for spreading, cooking, and baking to incredibly realistic “turkey” gravy, cream sauce, and cheese alternatives made from nuts and seeds.
Non-animal dairy products
Today, you can get a wide range of dairy products made from plant-based milks like almond milk and rice milk. Get yogurts, milk for cereal, and shakes made from healthier alternative.
You can have your fill of grains on this diet. Opt for whole grains and cereals if you want to maintain a healthy lifestyle or lose weight. Try out new grains like quinoa and amaranth for an extra dose of protein.
Fruits and vegetables
Of course, the main attraction for this diet is fruits and vegetables. Because we can import food from around the world today, there is a wide variety of exotic produce on the shelves at the supermarket today. So, explore your options and go hog-wild (excuse the pun).
Why the Diet is Around
The term veganism was introduced roughly 75 years ago after a particularly nasty bought of tuberculosis was discovered in almost half of the cows in England. The main reason this diet exists today is for environmental and ethical reasons. According to their reasoning, the way animals are raised and treated is cruel and inhumane. By not consuming animal flesh or products, vegans are doing their part to minimize or end this cruelty. According to a PETA study, every vegan helps save 200 animals every year.
Benefits of the Vegan Diet
Aside from befriending the animal kingdom, a vegan diet actually has several health and environmental benefits as well. Here are a few of them:
Plant-based diet health benefits
Eating a plant-based diet brings all sorts of health benefits. Vegetables contain loads of vitamins, magnesium, iron, and folic acid. They're also low in cholesterol and saturated fats.
Lowers mortality rates
Because of all the nutrients in a vegan diet, vegans generally have a lower mortality rate. The vegan diet is associated with a lower risk for chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, hypertension, stroke, obesity, and cancer.
It also doesn’t hurt that vegans, on average, weigh 20 pounds less than people who sit down with their steak dinners.
Vegans are doing their part to decrease fossil fuel consumption, pollution, and waste of natural resources.
Top Tips for Sticking to the Diet
You might have considered a vegan diet before. The health benefits are certainly appealing, and if your goal is to lose weight, this is an easy way to do it. However, something keeps catapulting you back to your old habits and those tender steaks. If you're interested in maintaining a vegan diet, here are a few tricks you can use to stay on target:
Discover what you can do with what you’ve got
While everyone seems so distracted by how much they can't eat on a vegan diet, the ones who succeed have capitalized on what they can. You'd be amazed at the food you can make with vegetables, nuts, and grains. Try a hearty bowl of zoodles (zucchini noodles) with creamy vegan cheese sauce, delicious tofu stir fry, or decadent chocolate mendiants in every flavor. It doesn't sound so bad after all. Explore your options, and there's almost no dish you can't find a delicious and healthy substitute for on this diet.
Vary your menu
Eating the same food day in and day out will get boring no matter what your diet is. Make sure to change things up frequently, weekly or at the very least monthly, to keep that zest for veganism alive.
Go whole...grain that is
Choose whole grains instead of refined alternatives. This will not only keep you full longer, but will also turbocharge your body with loads of good vitamins and nutrients and help promote weight loss.
Don’t forget the proteins
Just because you aren't eating meat doesn't mean you should skip out on proteins. There are loads of alternatives to choose from, and they're all super healthy for you. Test out chickpeas, lentils, soybeans, tempeh, tofu, almonds, cashews, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and so many more.