Veganism: what to eat and what are the benefits?

Vegan diets have become very popular and more and more people are opting for veganism for ethical, environmental or health reasons. If done properly, such a diet can have a number of health benefits, including weight loss and improved blood sugar control. At the same time, a diet based solely on plant foods can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

What is a vegan diet?

The vegan diet, which excludes all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy products, has gained in popularity in recent years. The reasons why someone chooses this diet are different. They can be ethical, ecological or health. And while a vegan diet based solely on plant foods can have many benefits, in some cases, nutrient deficiencies can occur. Therefore, it is very important that you decide to consult your personal physician and nutritionist before deciding to become vegan, who will be able to advise you on what your diet should be to provide your body with all the nutrients it needs. Namely, a poorly planned vegan diet in some cases does not provide sufficient amounts of vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D, calcium, iodine, selenium or zinc.

What do vegans eat?

Vegans replace animal products with plant foods and foods such as:

Tofu, tempeh and seitan

Soy and wheat gluten substitutes are high in protein.

Legumes

Foods such as beans, lentils and peas are an excellent source of many nutrients and beneficial plant compounds.

Nuts

Especially unbleached and unroasted varieties, which are a good source of iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E.

Seeds

Especially hemp, chia and flax seeds, which contain a good amount of protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

Plant types of milk and yoghurts enriched with calcium.

They help vegans achieve the recommended calcium intake in their diet. It is good to choose varieties that are also enriched with vitamins B12 and D.

Seaweed

Spirulina and chlorella are excellent sources of whole protein and iodine.

Whole grains, cereals and pseudo-cereals

They are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron, B vitamins and many minerals. Pir, tef, amaranth and quinoa are especially rich in protein.

Hardened and fermented plant foods

Ezekiel bread, tempeh, miso, natto, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi and kombucha often contain probiotics and vitamin K2. Germination and fermentation can improve mineral absorption.

Fruits and vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables is also a great way to increase your nutrient intake. Leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, watercress are especially rich in iron and calcium …

Different types of vegan diet

There are different versions of the vegan diet, the most common being:

A vegan diet with whole foods is based on a wide range of wholesome plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

A raw vegan diet is based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds or plant foods cooked at temperatures below 48 degrees.

The 80/10/10 diet is a vegan diet with raw foods that limits the intake of high-fat foods such as nuts and avocados, and relies primarily on raw fruits and soft greens.

The starch-free diet is a vegan diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates, similar to 80/10/10, but instead of fruit it focuses on cooked starch such as potatoes, rice and corn.

Raw food up to 4 is a low-fat vegan diet inspired by the 80/10/10 diet and the starch-free diet. Raw food is enjoyed until 4pm, with the option of a cooked meal for dinner.

Junk food is a vegan diet without wholesome plant foods that relies heavily on meat substitutes and vegan cheeses, fries, vegan desserts, and other highly processed meatless foods.

The benefits of a vegan diet

A vegan diet is supposed to help lower blood sugar and improve kidney function.

Several studies have shown that a vegan diet is usually richer in fiber, antioxidants, beneficial plant compounds, potassium, magnesium, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, and E.

Several studies suggest that a vegan diet can help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including pain, swollen joints, and morning stiffness. These benefits may be due to higher levels of antioxidants, probiotics and fiber in the vegan diet, as well as a lack of certain foods that cause this pain.

It can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Vegans tend to have lower blood sugar and higher insulin sensitivity, and may have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

May reduce the risk of heart disease. According to some research, vegans have up to a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure compared to vegetarians and a 42% lower risk of dying from heart disease. A vegan diet is also effective in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.

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