If you’re planning a vegan dinner, make sure your dish satisfies two simple criteria. Vegetables are fine, but animal-based foods, such as eggs, cheese, milk, and honey, are not allowed.
According to Statista, about 3% of Americans eat a vegan diet. Their motives for following this lifestyle differ. Some vegans do it to enhance their health. A plant-based diet might reduce the incidence of certain illnesses.
If you’ve considered switching to a vegan lifestyle, you might be unsure if it’s suitable for you. Although going meatless can provide several real advantages, there are a few drawbacks.
What You Can Eat
You can eat meals prepared from plants on a vegan diet, such as:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Legumes such as peas, beans, and lentils
- Nuts and seeds
- Bread, rice, and pasta
- Dairy alternatives such as soymilk, coconut milk, and almond milk
- Vegetable oils
What Vegans can’t Eat
Vegans can’t eat any foods made from animals, including:
- Beef, pork, lamb, and other red meat
- Chicken, duck, and other poultry
- Fish or shellfish such as crabs, clams, and mussels
- Cheese, butter
- Milk, cream, ice cream, and other dairy products
- Mayonnaise (because it includes egg yolks)
Veganism is linked to improved heart health and a decreased incidence of numerous illnesses. Meat eaters have a reduced risk of becoming obese or having heart disease, high cholesterol, or hypertension. Vegans are also less likely to develop diabetes and some types of cancer, including stomach and breast cancers in women.
Veganism may help you live longer, significantly if you reduce your calories.
Another common theme is that eating a more balanced diet has helped people lose weight, in part or entirely. Many of the health advantages mentioned above can be attributed to maintaining a healthy vegan diet. Vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who consume animal-based foods.
Another bonus is that vegans have access to excellent nutrition. The vegan diet consists of fruits, whole grains, and nuts. Fiber, antioxidants, and compounds that aid in preventing diabetes and cancer are present in these meals.
Overall, a vegan diet is healthy, but excluding animal protein may result in nutritional shortfalls such as protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Protein is required for all chemical reactions in your body to function. Calcium protects your bones and teeth. Omega-3 fatty acids preserve heart health by safeguarding against heart disease and stroke. These nutrients are essential during growth spurts for children’s developing bodies and throughout pregnancy.
You may replace several of these vital minerals in plant-based diets, such as:
- Protein: nuts, soy, beans, quinoa
- Calcium: soy milk, fortified orange juice, tofu with calcium, broccoli, kale, almonds
- Omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, vegetable oils, plant-based supplements
- Iron: tofu, soy nuts, spinach, peanut butter, fortified cereals
Vitamin B12, which your body uses to create red blood cells and DNA, is one nutrient that can only be obtained from animal sources. Only animal products have B12. If you go vegan, you will most likely require a vitamin supplement to compensate for the nutrients you miss out on from your diet.
Keep in mind that a vegan diet is only as healthy as you make it. Products like “vegan” ice cream, cookies, and candy may look appealing, but you don’t want to go overboard with them. You’ll gain weight if you eat high-fat and processed meals and supersize your portions, and you might develop several of the same health concerns as someone who eats meat.
How to Go Vegan
Do you find the notion of a vegan diet appealing, but you’re not sure how to begin? Remove all poultry, meat, eggs, and dairy at once if you want to go all-in. Alternatively, take a slower approach by increasing the number of fruits and vegetables consumed at each meal.
If eliminating all animal products from your diet seems too complicated, take it a step at a time. Some regimes, while focusing on plants, still provide wiggle room for other types of meals:
- Pescatarian: no meat and poultry, but you can still eat fish
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian: plant-based diet, plus dairy and eggs
- Flexitarian: a plant-based diet that on occasion includes animal products.
A vegan diet can be challenging for some people, mainly if they aren’t used to eating fruits and vegetables. Even if you’ve been a vegetarian for years, your doctor or a nutritionist will assist you in selecting the proper meals as you begin a vegan diet. It’s critical to seek expert assistance if you have a long-term illness or are pregnant to make sure you get the correct balance of nutrients in your new eating plan.
Read our blog about What Is Veganism, and What Do They Eat?