I have to say that a vegan diet does not necessarily mean that you have to give up eating for pleasure. By going vegan, you'll not only have a much better quality of life, but you'll also rid yourself of all the toxins that have been merrily creating havoc in your body. And there are plenty of plant-based foods to satisfy all your taste sensations.
Vegans don't eat meat, and they spurn all animal products. It used to take a lot of courage to admit you were "one of them". Not only am I a vegetarian, but saying you were vegan would immediately trigger lots of eye-rolling and jokes about lentil-munching hippies. To most people, it was a complete mystery - Why would you sign up for such a limited and restrictive diet.? But no more. Veganism is on the rise thanks to increased environmental and sustainability awareness and a more extensive choice of alternative foods.
With so many celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Usher, Stevie Wonder and Miley Cyrus all loudly and proudly on the vegan bandwagon, it's not seen as a weird lifestyle choice. But it's not for the fickle and faint-hearten. However, if you should embrace veganism, you'll need to be willing to make significant sacrifices. But it will all be worth it in the long run, and the rewards are too numerous to mention. And later, you'll be truly thankful you made the right choice.
Whereas vegetarians don't eat meat of any kind, vegans take things to a whole new level, also spurning all animal products such as eggs, dairy products and even foods such as honey. Some are even energetically opposed to the way they claim commercial farming exploits animals, (more on that subject later) and that they refuse to wear wool or leather products or use cosmetics tested on animals or contain animal-based ingredients.
When starting a vegan lifestyle, there's no need to rush into it. Take your time and manage your progress one day at a time until you feel comfortable. If you've had a lifetime of junk food, your body will need to adjust. Just remember. Rome wasn't built in a day. Changing to a plant-based diet is not a marathon; it's a journey of discovery and a great one at that.
The long list of forbidden foods might have many carnivores shaking their heads in disbelief. Imagine not being able to tuck into a juicy beef burger, a creamy milkshake or a cheesy omelette or even a sniff in anticipation as you take in the aroma of barbequed steak and sausage. Oh! Dear, what will your family and friends think? Have you lost your mind? No, you haven't, you're just on a different path now. It's a much healthier one than before. Ignore those who tell you you're crazy. You'll be the winner at the end of the day.
Vegans used to have to make do with grey, unappetising substitutes that looked and tasted like cardboard. But that's no longer true any more. Thanks to innovations in food technology, there are plenty of guilt-free alternatives to animal products made from all kinds of excellent ingredients such as soya, tofu almond milk and potato protein.
Judging by all the products popping up on shop shelves and the number of restaurants offering meat-free alternatives, it's clear that instead of being an eccentric niche market, veganism is becoming more mainstream. For many, it's an ethical choice as they want to avoid causing any harm to animals while others embrace veganism because they believe it's a healthier choice.
Vegan numbers are growing because of increased environmental and sustainability awareness as well as a more extensive choice of alternative foods. But with so many foods off the menu, what exactly do vegans eat? Healthy vegan diets concentrate on a variety of plant foods such as whole grains, starches, fruit and vegetables.
However, it's easy to fall into the trap of eating lots of unhealthy sugar, simple carbohydrates, fats and trans fats which will cause them to pile on the kilogrammes. There are lots of misconceptions about the vegan diet. Many will say that vegans must be vitamin-deficient as they avoid meat and dairy. Vegans are commonly deficient in three nutrients: iodine, calcium and Vitamin B12.
But if you look at omnivores, they're deficient in those three and five more: vitamin E, vitamin C, magnesium, folate and fibre. That's eight deficiencies versus three. Many omnivores don't include enough calcium-rich whole plant foods such as beans, legumes and leafy green vegetables in their diets which is why they share the deficiency.
While vitamin B12, naturally found in animal products, you'll also find small quantities in Miso and crimini mushrooms. Deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia and result in severe problems. This vitamin is responsible for the production of DNA and RNA - our genetic material - as well as our nerve cells. It's also involved in red blood cell production, which allows effective iron use in the body and oxygen transportation.
Vegans can also get vitamin B12 in fortified products such as soy or almond milk as well as certified cereals. But don't expect leafy greens to help you reach the required daily levels. Those of you adopting a meat-free diet should investigate taking a B12 supplement. It's possible to have a healthy diet if you're vegan, but it's not easy, especially if you're trying to forgo meat products.
However, many people choose a vegan diet for ethical reasons and are under the impression it's a healthier option. It isn't necessarily the case. While I wouldn't recommend a vegan diet, I would recommend a vegetable-based diet. A vegetable-based diet, as opposed to a grain-based one, with the inclusion of small amounts of animal products such as cheese may be a far better choice for both weight and health perspective.
Following a vegan diet has no adverse effects. However, you should note as with any food source, we all need to educate yourself and take responsibility for what we put in our mouths. Also, we need to be aware that a vegan diet is not suitable for infants. A mother breastfeeding her infant is always best and should not be on a diet of soya milk or apple juice. It would be wholly inadequate. For this, it's much easier to meet nutritional requirements for growth and brain development by including some meat products. Going vegan in adults is possible as long as there are strict care and monitoring.
You can follow a vegan diet without breaking the bank even though some products maybe a little more expensive than their animal-produced counterparts such as miso, tofu and almond milk. However, you don't necessarily need those products to live a healthy lifestyle once you join the vegan revolution.
What you need to ensure is that your diet isn't monotonous and that you get a wide variety of plant-based protein sources such as lentils, soy, legumes, chickpeas and fortified cereals as well as a variety of fruit and vegetables. You can also add whole-grain products such as brown rice, millet and quinoa to your menu. But whatever you do choose, don't eat too many processed foods that are high in sugar and fat.
As a word of caution, if you do decide to join the vegan revolution, I don't necessarily recommend you dive right in but rather start slowly to give your system a chance to adapt. Begin with meat-free meals and then gradually a slow transition to a fully vegan lifestyle over time.
According to a professor from the University of California, a vegan diet is not suitable for kids and that it could be doing them permanent damage. The professor goes on to say that depriving young children of essential micronutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin A, calcium and iron found in concentrated form in meat and dairy products, was unethical.
And while the professor focuses her criticism on vegans, she goes on to say that a meat-based diet was even better than a vegetarian one. Well all said and done, former Beatle Paul McaCrtney who has been a vegetarian for more than thirty years think this is absolute rubbish.
He goes on to say that he has raised his children the same way with no ill-effects. Here we have to understand the difference between veganism and vegetarianism for the simple fact that while vegans may exclude all animal products including eggs, milk and cheese, vegetarians don't necessarily adopt the same philosophy.
However, I believe that we can raise children on a vegan diet; it's infants that we need to redress for one good reason. Infants begin their life without teeth, and it's essential to digest food properly, we need to chew any food that enters our mouths with saliva, which in turn breaks down enzymes needed to aid digestion.
1-2 slices of low GI seeded or rye toast with hummus, mashed avocado or nut butter and a glass of fortified unsweetened almond or soya milk. Or you can have a smoothie with one cup of fortified unsweetened almond or soya milk with a tablespoon of flax seeds, a handful of baby spinach, one fruit, a quarter cup of rolled oats, two tablespoons of avocado and ginger and some fresh mint to taste.
One fruit of your choice and a small handful of walnuts or almonds.
Two cups of fresh salad - baby spinach, rocket cucumber, bell pepper and tomato plus roasted butternut or sweet potato, a handful of olives, some mixed seeds, chickpeas and or lentils with lemon juice or avocado oil dressing.
Mixed vegetable and lentil curry cooked with light coconut milk or tomato puree served with brown rice or tofu and vegetarian stir-fry with quinoa and broccoli.
Fruit or a couple of squares of vegan dark chocolate.
Portion sizes may vary according to personal goals and individual factors such as age, gender, activity levels and weight. Good luck.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for a general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.