By Kejal Sheth
Nutritionist, Weight Management Expert and Founder of Nutrivity.in
Veganism has come a long way as more and more people have decided to become vegan due to ethical, environmental or health reasons. We have seen this trend occurring from the western countries and now it has taken a firm grip with the Indian population. But before anyone plans to jump on this no-meat-no-eggs-no-diary bandwagon it is important to understand your body and the effect this diet may have.
Veganism is a type of diet which excludes animal derived food ingredients from the diet like eggs, milk, paneer, cheese, meat, fish etc. Apart from the diet; vegans also refrain themselves from the use of animal tested products, fur, leather, wool and completely live animal-cruelty free lifestyle.
Vegan diet has many benefits and with good understanding and planning one can definitely benefit a lot.
- Animal fats are usually associated with many illnesses like diabetes, obesity, hypertension etc and cutting them can reduce the risk of such illness
- Vegans include figs, kale, spinach, black eyed beans etc in their daily diet which promotes better calcium absorption and in turn good bone health
- They are also beneficial for improving blood sugars by improving insulin sensitivity.
- Helps in maintenance and protection against chronic diseases
- Also it is high in plant protein, good carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, folate, antioxidants and free from saturated fats, trans fat.
There are various types of Vegan diet
- Whole Foods & Plant Based Diet – Choosing the foods, plants and vegetables which are unprocessed and contain more fiber and lower in calories
- Vegetarian – Diet consists of plant based foods and includes egg and dairy
- Vegan – Diet is completely eliminated animal products and relies on plant based foods.
- Raw Vegan – Raw vegans eat a lot (or all) of their food raw – or heated/dehydrated at very low temperatures.
- Lacto Vegetarian – Diet which consists of dairy and plant based foods.
- High Carb Low Fat – People eat good carbs and include good fats in this diet
- There are many apart from these like Gluten-Free Vegan, Sugar-Free Vegan, Junk Vegan, Raw till 4 Vegan etc.
Becoming a vegan depends from person to person, some people easily stop meat and animal products while for some it is a slow process. There is no right or wrong process in this but becoming vegan is a matter of commitment and it is definitely not as easy as it sounds. I would suggest for anyone who wants to turn vegan to take baby steps. Try and eliminate one one thing at a time instead of eliminating everything in just one go.
All animal foods like beef, poultry, organ meat, chicken, fish, sea food, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, chocolate made from milk, honey are avoided while a person is on a vegan diet.
However, you can opt for plant based foods like dals, legumes, beans, nuts, oil seeds, nut butters, all kinds of fruits and vegetables, sprouts, root vegetables, fresh herbs and spices, hemp, soy, tofu, whole grains, calcium fortified plant milk and yogurts, nut milk, spirulina, sprouted whole grains, cold pressed oils, olive oil, fermented foods like khimchi, raw cocoa and much more when you are on this diet regime. To keep up to your protein intake make sure you include plant protein like PEA PROTEIN, SOY PROTEIN, Sprouted Cereals, Sprouts, Spirulina, Tofu are amazing sources of plant protein which should be added in daily diet.
Ideally if the diet is not well planned and balanced the individual is prone to risk like:
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency, basically Vitamin B12 and D3 deficiency
- Protein deficiency, lack of amino acids
- Health conditions like anemia (iron deficiency), underweight issues
- Omega 3 deficiency
When a person has tried vegan diet and then switches back to eating meat and non-restrictive products it does have a certain effect on the body which should be tackled carefully. Some of them are:
- Food Cravings, emotional hunger.
- You generally tend to have gastric discomfort after switching back to eating meat
- There can be urine infections
- There can be skin problems like rashes, acne etc
- Weight gain is one of the major concern.
- Trouble sleeping. As with any diet change, a new caloric intake and the types of foods consumed can change your sleeping patterns a bit.
- Sugary, fatty or meaty cravings.
- Feeling fatigued or experiencing headaches.
Someone who is on a vegan diet and see these changes on themselves:
- Weight-loss- Going vegan has an amazing effect on your weight by improving your BMI also the good carbs, good protein, good fats benefit’s your health.
- Benefits GUT HEALTH – This diet is rich in pre-biotics which are very beneficial for your gut health.
- Skin – Consumption of lots of fresh vegetables and fruits have in impact on your glowing skin, healthy hair and nails.
- Eases PMS – All the Pre-menstrual pain, symptoms are relieved because of consumption of clean foods and healthy diet.
- Higher intake of Clean Foods – You tend to have a habit of eating clean and freshly cooked food.
- Good consumption of Antioxidants, Vitamins & Minerals – Being on vegan diet involves consumption of Healthy fruits and vegetables which are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which also provide heart healthy omegas.
- Good for Nature – Biggest benefit of going vegan is to benefit environment, animal killing, saves forests, saves water, avoids excess pollution.
A lot of times, people ask how do they manage their diet when they are eating out but now-a-days it is not difficult to eat out as almost everywhere Vegan options are easily available. In case there are no options you can place a special request to the chef which is very doable nowadays. Also, you can smartly choose from the options available in the menu
Personally, I would say going on a Vegan diet is a great idea for a healthy detox of one’s body. Being vegan has more benefits over the disadvantages, in my opinion, a person on Vegan Diet should:
- Increase plant protein intake
- Enjoy plant protein powder
- Increase consumption of good carbohydrates
- Switch over to healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, oil seeds
- Eat less junk, high sugar, high sodium foods
- Last but not the least, portion control and eating mindfully and balanced is must.