Ready To Go Vegan? Great Idea! But Think It Through Clearly

by Simona Terron

America is constantly on the lookout for exciting, new diets that actually work and with November 1 being World Vegan Day 2015, we thought we’d revisit the vegan diet, which basically more or less involves consuming only plant-based food. Is it right for you? Will you be healthier after having adopted it and will it easier to take off and keep off the extra weight? That depends on so many other factors but here’s a brief outline of veganism for a quick run through:

What It Entails:
Being vegan means abstaining from the use of animal products and animal-derived substances entirely. That means no meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or dairy. Vegan diets are based on grains and other seeds, legumes (particularly beans), fruits and nuts.

The Pros:
This plant-based diet appears to benefit people at the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Joel Fuhrman, MD and author of several books states that the biggest advantage of following this diet is the removal of animal products and the inclusion of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables.

The Cons:
With veganism, it is difficult to get enough protein, iron, and B12 (all abundant in meat) and DHA-EPA omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish). Doni Wilson, a New York–based naturopath, adds that vegans who eat just pasta and bagels are going to end up with a very high-carb diet and miss out on the nutrients that come from animal sources. Vegans are often advised to eat foods fortified with these nutrients, or take supplements.

Reasons For Turning Vegan:
Many people have already begun to embrace this diet as means of eating natural, to prevent or cure diseases, and also to keep up their youth and vitality. Celebrities like Venus Williams, Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres have all been associated with raw veganism. It even has the following health benefits:

  • Uncooked vegetables are loaded with healthy nutrients. They also retain water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C, which is otherwise lost when cooking.
  • Limiting your diet to such natural foods and ditching fried, sugar-laden meals is an obvious road to weight loss.
  • Ayurveda backs the fact that eating a nutrient-dense diet improves your overall well-being and health.
  • The cooking is done at a temperature of 118 degrees F, or lower. This is called moisture-based cooking and it prevents food from browning or forming toxic compounds that are otherwise formed in high-heat cooking.

Things To Watch Out For When Going Vegan:

  1. If you’re on a raw vegan diet, you might not get your complete fix of vitamin D, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids.
  2. According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition almost 38 percent of the participants on this diet were deficient in vitamin B12 too. You may have to resort to supplements in such a case.
  3. Some foods are better cooked. Cooking tomatoes, for instance, increases the bioavailability of the antioxidant lycopene and spinach is always more nutritionally beneficial when cooked.
  4. Conversely, eating some foods raw can upset your digestive system.
  5. If the portions are not planned correctly, going on this diet could cause weakness in some people.

Image: Shutterstock

PS: Here are some more recipes and tips for your Vegan Diet.
Also, head to our Food section for the latest food trends.

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