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A Vegan Diet Is Not Only About Giving Up On Meat, It’s More Than That!

Ever wondered what it would be like only eat plant-based foods and completely remove any type of meat from your diet? Then ask a vegan! Veganism is a term that does not really refer to a diet, but rather a lifestyle as being a vegan does not only mean you are avoiding any animal-derived food, but it also means that you are completely avoiding the use of any products that are derived from animals. While veganism and vegetarianism are often associated with one another, it is vital to realize that there is a distinct different between the two. Where vegetarians solely avoid eating meat, vegans completely remove any animal products and animal derived products from their daily lifestyle – this does not only extend to meat and food sources, but also to non-consumable products such as leather handbags. In this post, we’ll discuss what veganism is, where it came from, what you can eat and, of course, what can’t vegans eat.

How does the vegan lifestyle become more popular these years?

The original Vegan Society was founded in 1944, but the first traces of veganism dates back to approximately 500 BCE, as reported by The Vegan Society.[1] At this time, the traces refer to a diet that is more similar to a vegetarian diet, but mentioning this discovery is important as it marks an entry point for the development of the vegan lifestyle. In 1806 CE, the vegan lifestyle became more developed when the lifestyle was promoted to be free of dairy products and eggs. The vegan lifestyle as we know it today, however, was developed in 1944 by Donald Watson – this is also now referred to as the modern-day vegan lifestyle. This lifestyle now includes a healthy diet plan, along with the removal of any items in your life that are made from any kind of material derived from animals.[2] This includes leather, feathers and much more.

The vegan diet has received quite a lot of attention in recent years. Similar to how people have adapted their lives to becoming vegetarian or following particular diet plans, such as the paleo diet, many people have discovered that veganism is a healthy way of living and plant-based foods are still able to provide the human body with essential nutrients that are needed to promote overall wellbeing and longevity.[3] It is reported that at least 2.5% of the entire American population are now following a vegan lifestyle and the consumption of meat are constantly decreasing in the country, with a 12.2% drop noticed in a five-year period between 2007 and 2012.[4]

What foods are included and not included in a vegan diet?

A lot of people are used to consuming meat on an everyday basis, which often leads to the thought that protein and some other nutrients can only be obtained from meat. This, however, is not true. While there is one particular exception that should be considered – being vitamin B12 – all other nutrients can be obtained from a vegan diet at adequate levels to support normal red blood cell production, to keep the immune system healthy, to support a healthy weight and to ensure the entire human body functions properly without any compromises.

SF Gate explains that the following nutrients are important in a vegan diet, and provide excellent examples of food sources where each of them can be obtained:[5]

Protein – Protein is essential for the well-being of organs, bones and skin. It also helps to keep muscles healthy and plays an important part in the growth of muscle mass. In a normal diet, most protein is consumed through meat and animal-derived products, such as dairy and eggs. In a vegan diet, however, protein is obtained from food sources such as chickpeas, soybeans, soy meat, almonds, seeds, nuts, lentils, black beans, tofu and peanut butter.

Calcium – Calcium is also an important nutrient that is classified as a mineral. This mineral is vital for keeping bones and teeth healthy, and plays other important parts in the body as well. Even though dairy products cannot be consumed in a vegan diet, it is still possible to obtain high amounts of calcium from spinach, broccoli, tofu, soy milk and kale.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Iron – Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Iron are also essential nutrients that vegans consume through plant-based food sources. Vitamin B12, however, need to be consumed through a supplement or through fortified products, such as fortified soy milk or fortified cereals.

We should not only focus on foods that are included in a vegan diet, but also foods that should be completely avoided when you turn vegan. Authority Nutrition reports that the following foods are no-no’s when it comes to following a vegan diet:[6]

• Any type of meat, including beef, veal, wild meat, organ meat and pork.

• Poultry, seafood and fish are also not part of a vegan diet.

• Dairy products, such as cream, butter, cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt.

• Any type of eggs should be avoided, including fish eggs, quail eggs and chicken eggs.

• Royal jelly, honey and bee pollen are also not allowed on a vegan diet.

• Specific additives in some products that are animal derived – these should also be avoided.

• Gelatin is also a product that is not allowed on a vegan diet.

• Any products that contain casein, lactose or whey.

• Baked goods that contain L-Cysteine.

• Certain candies are manufactured with gelatin – these are also not allowed on a vegan diet.

• Pasta usually contains egg, which means they are also not allowed.

Veganism is not only a diet plan but a lifestyle that promotes the removal of certain products

Becoming a vegan can be a rather tough journey if you are used to eating meat, eggs and cheese. Unlike becoming a vegetarian, veganism also requires the removal of certain lifestyle products, like handbags and coaches made from leather, as these products contain material that is derived from animals. Thus, education about what exactly the vegan diet is should be an essential step towards approaching this lifestyle change as it will allow you to determine whether or not this lifestyle choice is appropriate for you.

Reference

[1] The Vegan Society: History
[2] Consumer Health Digest: Best Diet Plan: 6 Ways to Choose an Effective Diet Plan
[3] Consumer Health Digest: Paleo Diet Plan: Is Paleo Diet Plan a Good Way to Lose Weight?
[4] Top RN To BSN: The Rise of Veganism: Start a Revolution!
[5] SF Gate: List of Foods That Vegans Eat
[6] Authority Nutrition: 37 Things to Avoid as a Vegan

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