Vegan dieters can anticipate a number of health benefits as well as some risks. It might take some getting used to trying to eat only plant-based foods. People take into account a variety of factors, including animal rights, religious beliefs, and health considerations, when making this lifestyle choice.
Are you unsure of the benefits of becoming a vegan? What kind of diet should someone who practices veganism follow? Read on!
What is a Vegetarian Diet?
Meals made of plants are the mainstay of a vegetarian diet. These allow those with green thumbs to choose from a variety of vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.
Vegetarianism can be practiced in a variety of ways. Below are some of the most popular or well-known types of vegetarianism to help you choose or better understand these kinds of diets:
- Vegan: No dairy or other animal byproducts, such as eggs, are included in the meals; only plant-based foods are.
- Lacto-vegetarian: You can eat dairy foods like cheese, milk, yogurt, and butter with meals that only contain plants. On this diet, you are not allowed to eat meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs.
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: You can eat veggies, dairy, and eggs. All other food types such as seafood and meat are off the table.
- Pescatarian: Seafood is an option for Pescatarians in addition to plant-based foods. They obtain a lot of protein from here. Pescatarians have the freedom to decide for themselves whether to consume dairy products and eggs.
- Flexitarianism: Although they can consume meat, poultry, seafood, etc., flexitarians typically eat plant-based foods. when they see fit.
What is An Eating Plan?
An eating plan involves weighing out different types of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to create a well-balanced, tailor-fit list of foods you can eat for several days or months. Making a meal plan has many benefits, particularly if you consult a professional. A study by Ducrot, et al. (2017) reveals that eating plans can result in improved diet quality, increased food variety, and fewer chances of obesity. The more practical side of things is that planning your meals in advance can save you a ton of time and prevent food waste.
Eating Plan for a Person Who Follows a Vegetarian
To get the most out of a vegetarian diet, choose a variety of healthy plant-based foods. These include whole fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Nuts and legumes, including lentils, beans, and peanuts, are also regarded as nutritious plant-based foods.
Limit less wholesome options at the same time. Fruit juices, refined grains, and beverages with added sugar are some of these. You can develop an individualized vegetarian eating plan with the assistance of a registered dietitian.
|Food group*||Daily amount|
|Vegetables||2 1/2 cups a day|
|Fruits||2 cups a day|
|Grains (mostly whole)||6 1/2 ounces a day|
|Dairy||3 cups a day|
|Proteins||3 1/2 ounces a day|
|Oils||27 grams a day|
Remember that it may be more difficult to get all the nutrients you require the more foods you eliminate from your diet. For instance, a vegan diet excludes milk products, which are a good source of calcium and natural food sources of vitamin B-12.
To be sure that your diet provides what your body needs, pay special attention to the following nutrients:
Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones. Milk and dairy foods are the highest in calcium. If you consume sufficient amounts of them, dark green vegetables are good to plant sources. Kale and broccoli are a few examples, as well as turnip and collard greens. Products that have been fortified and enhanced with calcium are other options. Calcium is added to some juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in bone health. Cow’s milk, some varieties of soy and rice milk, some cereals, and margarine all have vitamin D added to them. Check the labels on your food. People who don’t consume enough fortified foods and get insufficient sun exposure may want to discuss vitamin D supplements with their doctor. There are vitamin D supplements made from plants.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish, walnuts, ground flaxseed, soybeans, canola oil, and soy oil are some foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids. DHA and EPA, two types of omega-3 fatty acids, may be insufficient in vegetarian diets that do not include fish. According to some data, consuming EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease. Additionally, the development of the fetus during pregnancy may be influenced by these two omega-3s. Research on EPA and DHA’s other health benefits is inconsistent. For vegetarians who don’t consume fish or other sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fortified foods may be a good option.
Protein helps keep skin, bones, muscles and organs healthy. Eggs and dairy products are good sources, and you don’t need to eat large amounts to meet your protein needs. Eating a variety of plant-based foods throughout the day also can provide enough protein. Legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are examples of plant sources. There are also soy products and meat substitutes.
Iodine is a component of thyroid hormones. The body’s metabolism is regulated by thyroid hormones, which are also crucial for muscle development. By using iodized salt, iodine can be easily added to food. Iodine is also found in dairy products and seafood. People who do not eat seafood or dairy may be at risk of iodine deficiency if they do not use iodized salt. In an effort to produce enough thyroid hormones for the body, the thyroid may enlarge as a result of an iodine deficiency. It’s known as goiter when it affects the thyroid. A vegetarian alternative to meat is seaweed.
Iron and Zinc
Red blood cells depend on iron. Dark leafy green vegetables, whole-grain products, enriched cereals, dried fruit, dried beans and peas, and lentils are all sources of iron. However, iron from plant sources is not as easily absorbed by the body as iron is from animal sources. So the recommended intake of iron for vegetarians is almost double that recommended for nonvegetarians. Consume foods high in vitamin C at the same time as iron-containing foods to aid your body’s absorption of iron from plants. Vitamin C-rich foods include peppers, strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.
Similar to iron, zinc cannot be absorbed from plant sources as easily as it can from animal products. Pescatarians can get zinc from fish, as well as from crab and shrimp. If you consume dairy products, cheese and yogurt are sources of zinc. Included in the list of plant sources are whole grains, soy products, lentils, beans, nuts, and wheat germ. Zinc helps the body make proteins and grow cells. Research on zinc in the diet has found that it supports the immune system and vision, specifically.
Of course, you may need to act now or ask some important questions if you’re thinking about going vegan. The health benefits of adopting a vegetarian diet are numerous, but there are also some risks, particularly if you aren’t getting all the nutrients you require. Making a well-informed and empowering decision about going vegetarian requires carefully weighing all the pros and cons. The change will you implement?