A vegan diet is becoming very popular these days, people are excluding animal foods from their diet because of health, environmental and ethical reasons. A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes not just meat, but all animal products including dairy and poultry.
All plant foods are mainstream of this diet like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, soy and legumes. Growing children must avoid a vegan diet as they might miss on the essential minerals, vitamins and other nutrients required by them at that stage.
A vegan diet can help do the following:
- Promote weight loss
- Reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels
- Lower the chances of getting certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer
- Manage diabetes by lowering A1C levels
Vegan diets consist only of plant foods, which includes all vegetables, starchy and non-starchy; legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and nut butter; fruits, grains, and soy products like tofu. When planned well, a vegan diet can meet an average person’s needs for protein and most required nutrients.
A sample day on the vegan diet looks like this:
- Breakfast: Chia seed pudding, oatmeal, or overnight oats prepared with plant-based milk; nut butter or avocado on toast; or sweet potato hash are all filling, relatively easy vegan breakfast options.
- Lunch: There are tons of lunch options for vegans, from simple and classic peanut butter to avocado bean salad.
- Dinner: Ideas for dinners that can be prepared ahead of time include red lentil dal, tofu stir fry, and quinoa-stuffed peppers.
- Snacks: Some snack ideas include carrot and hummus, kale chips, nut butter and oat balls, and spicy roasted chickpeas.
People should take some supplements to ensure they’re getting enough nutrients?
One should stay aware of important nutrients known to be low during following a vegan diet. These nutrients are:
- Calcium: fortified milk alternatives (soy milk, milk, almond milk, etc.), fortified orange juice, tofu with added calcium; broccoli, beans, leafy greens, almonds, almond butter, sesame seeds and soybeans all have naturally occurring calcium.
- Protein: Animals aren’t the only known sources of protein. Soy products (e.g., tofu and edamame) are also packed with proteins. Lentils, beans, quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat, hemp seeds, tofu, whole grains, nuts & nut butter.
- Vitamin B12: A lack of vitamin B12 can make a person feel weak and tired. Getting enough vitamin B12, can be challenging for vegans because it can’t be found in plants. To get yourself filled, stock up on fortified cereals, fortified rice, and soy drinks — or take a supplement.
- Essential fatty acids: A lack of essential fatty acids has been associated with problems related to our brain health, such as cognitive impairment and depression. To get essential fatty acids, fill up yourself with whole grains and green leafy vegetables. And try snacking on a small handful of unsalted nuts, like almonds, walnuts or pistachios (just watch the portions as nuts are high in calories).
- Iron: Red meat and egg yolks are the richest sources of iron. But they also are high in cholesterol. Good plant sources of iron include black-eyed peas, tofu and dried fruit.
- Vitamin D: 10 to 15 minutes of sunlight exposure a day can give a vitamin D boost.
So a vegan diet can also be proved helpful in maintaining weight and medical issues if planned in a proper way considering all the macro and micronutrients. If required one can start taking supplements for Calcium, iron and Vit B12 after their Doctor’s consultation.