What’s all the hype these days about vegan nutrition? Chances are, you’ve probably heard about the vegan diet. And with the smorgasbord of diet buzzwords that floats around, it can get pretty confusing discerning the healthy diets from the fad diets. Is vegan the same as vegetarian? Can you get all the nutrients you need on a vegan diet? Or maybe you’re wondering if there are any benefits to going vegan. Well, my friend, you’re in luck, because we’ve rounded up everything you need to know about vegan nutrition.
Vegan Diet 101
Let’s break this thing down. A vegan diet is one that is entirely plant-based. Unlike the vegetarian diet, that means no animal products, including dairy products like eggs and cheese.
There’s no singular reason why so many people decide to switch to the vegan lifestyle. For some, it’s because of the environmental impact of consuming animal products. For others, it’s because of the ethical implications. And yet for many others, it’s purely due to food allergies or health benefits.
Regardless of what’s motivating you to explore the world of veganism, it can be a challenge to transition away from animal products. It can be especially difficult if you’ve never known life without animal products. And we wouldn’t be doing you any favors if we neglected to tell you than even bee products (think honey) are a no-go on a vegan diet. But, as we’ll explore a bit later, the tradeoffs might be well worth your dedication.
Breaking Down Vegan Diet Nutrition
We’ve talked about how important good nutrition is. But do you ever feel like your life revolves around food? Think about it! Food is more than just sustenance – it’s ingrained into our culture. It’s a sharing, social experience. Which is why it can be so challenging to modify our food consumption habits.
But let’s just talk about the sustenance portion for a second. If you’re just starting to transition to a vegan diet, then you might be wondering if it’s possible to get all the nutrients you need. The short answer is yes, it’s possible to get everything you need from vegan nutrition. However, your meals might look a little bit different than they used to.
Instead of animal-based protein sources (like chicken or beef), you’ll be substituting plant-based sources of protein. Foods like tofu, most beans, and even quinoa can provide more than enough protein daily.
If you make the decision to cut out animal-based foods and switch to a vegan diet, keep in mind that balancing your nutrients is still essential for your well-being. Vegan diets, if not properly balanced, can increase your risk of deficiencies in some nutrients, like iron, B12, and omega-3s because you aren’t consuming animal-based foods that help your intake.
As always, we highly recommend that you consult your doctor or nutritionist to make sure you’re getting everything you need from your diet. While deficiencies are uncommon, it’s important to make sure you balance out your plant-based foods so that your body keeps running like a well-oiled machine.
Is a Vegan Diet Really Worth It?
Switching over to a vegan diet can feel like you’re making some significant sacrifices. But diet is kind of like fitness. Sure, maybe you just wanted to Netflix binge, but you sacrificed that to go to the gym. In return for healthy sacrifices, the body gives you rewards in return.
Let’s look at the stats. Studies have shown that regularly following a vegan diet over the course of your life can significantly reduce your chances for a whole handful of diseases. And we’re not just talking lower cholesterol, either – although this is one sweet benefit. Going vegan can reduce your risk of serious disease and illness like cancer, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s.
Want to get the most out of your vegan diet? Make sure you’re aren’t just filling your diet full of more processed foods. Sure, they might not have any animal products in them, but processed foods really aren’t doing you a whole lot of good. You should always (vegan or not) fill your diet full of whole, unprocessed foods.
Overhauling your diet is no small feat – regardless of which diet you go for. If you’re having a hard time going cold turkey on animal-products, try to make gradual substitutes. As you adjust to sourcing plant-based alternatives, the switch can seem much less daunting. Who knows. You might just find that these small sacrifices pay off in the long run with the many potential health benefits of a vegan diet.