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Vegan Diet

THE VEGAN DIET

The vegan diet excludes all foods that come from animals, this includes meat, dairy products and eggs or anything that contains these foods.  This may sound very restrictive and you may feel you would have to cut out too many foods however, there are many websites, books and blogs that contain delicious vegan recipes as well as suggestions about vegan alternatives to some of the non-vegan foods you enjoy.  As with all diets, the important thing to remember is that you must remain healthy.  Vegans are still required to eat at least five fruit and vegetables a day though this is easy to do with a vegan diet.  Make sure you eat dairy alternatives like soya milk and soya yoghurt.  Meals should still contain carbohydrates such as potatoes and rice.

PROS:

Weight-loss: There is extensive research to show that the vegan diet does result in weight loss and also reduces one’s BMI

Lower blood sugar levels: Many studies show that those following the vegan diet have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Vegan diets also lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Many health benefits: Other research suggests that those following the vegan diet have less chance of developing high blood pressure or dying of heart disease.  Other observational studies suggest that the vegan diet lowers the risk of developing Alzeimer’s disease, poor kidney function and cancer.  The vegan diet can also lessen the symptoms of arthritis.  It is important to bear in mind that these are observational studies and more research will have to be done to determine if there is a direct link between the vegan diet and some of the health benefits mentioned here.

You can begin slowly: If you would like to follow a vegan diet but feel that it would be difficult to cut out so many foods at once you could begin slowly.  For example, eat vegan for two days a week and then slowly increase this as and when you feel you can.  This will also help you to discover delicious vegan recipes at your own pace.

CONS:

A lot of initial research: To begin with, the vegan diet will require some research to determine what food you can eat and if not, is there an alternative.  You will find that your change in food choices will become habit and you will stop realising that you are cutting out many foods you used to buy.

You may have to take supplements: A big concern that many have about the vegan diet is will they get enough protein and iron without any meat or animal products.  All beans and pulses contain protein and iron.  Other vegan foods that contain iron are nuts, some breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread and dark green leafy vegetables like broccoli.  It is a good idea to talk to your GP as they may suggest that you take an iron supplement as well.  There is one vitamin that is only found in animal products and that is B12.  B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA and deficiencies could result in a number of health problems.  Again, speak to your GP about a B12 supplement.

Having to carefully plan your meals and snacks:  It is important to plan your vegan diet as an unplanned diet may result in one developing a certain deficiency so ensure that you are getting all you need.

Conclusion: The vegan diet is becoming more popular, especially among some celebrities, as such more and more research is being done.  It is showing signs of having a number of health benefits and it has been proven to be very effective with weight-loss.