WHAT IS VEGANISM?
Veganism is so much more than just a ‘diet’; it is a lifestyle. It is a way of living that excludes all animal products, byproducts, exploitation, and cruelty, whether for food, clothing, or other purposes. Thus, a vegan diet consists of only plants and plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, pulses, seeds, and nuts. These foods are excellent sources of nutrition, essential vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats.
TYPES OF VEGAN DIET
People choose to switch to veganism for either ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Whatever their reason might be, all vegans avoid animal products and byproducts. And just like any other diet, there are different categories of vegan diets. Let’s take a look at some different types.
1. Conventional vegan diet.
Most vegans aim to balance processed and unprocessed ingredients and consume a combination of whole foods and animal product substitutes. An example of a typical conventional vegan meal would be a bean chili in a tortilla wrap with a sprinkling of vegan cheese.
2. Whole-food vegan diet.
This diet focuses on natural whole-foods and avoids heavily processed ingredients. A balanced whole-food vegan diet consists of unrefined fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Occasionally, it may include coconut milk, tofu, oats, and vegetable oils.
3. Raw-food vegan diet.
As the name suggests, this diet is based on raw foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains, such as sprouted rice, barley, and rye. In this diet, you should avoid heating foods, as it is believed that the high temperatures remove essential nutrients. However, some acceptable food preparation methods are sprouting, soaking, blending, and fermenting.
This low-fat, raw vegan diet developed by Dr. Douglas Graham consists of raw fruits and tender, leafy greens. It is based on the idea that the optimal diet should provide at least 80% of calories from carbs, with no more than 10% of calories from protein and 10% from fats. You can have sweet fruits like apples and mangoes, non-sweet fruits like tomatoes, cucumber, and okra. The other foods are soft greens like lettuce and spinach, and a limited intake of fatty fruits such as avocados, olives, and nuts.
5. The starch solution.
This low-fat, high-carb vegan diet is similar to the 80/10/10 but focuses on cooked starches like potatoes, rice, and corn instead of fruit.
6. Raw till 4.
This low-fat vegan diet is inspired by the 80/10/10 and starch solution. In this diet, raw foods are consumed until 4 p.m., with the option of a cooked plant-based meal for dinner.
7. The Thrive diet.
The Thrive diet is a raw, vegan lifestyle plan designed by former professional athlete Brendan Brazier. Under this diet, you don’t need to count calories or limit portions; instead, you eat several small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar and energy levels consistent all day.
8. Junk-food vegan diet.
This vegan diet lacks severely in whole plant foods and relies heavily on mock meats and cheeses, fries, vegan desserts, and other heavily processed vegan foods instead.
FOODS TO EAT
- Plant Milk
- Nutritional Yeast
- Whole Grains
- Sprouted Plant-Foods
- Fruits and Vegetables
FOODS TO AVOID
- Meat and Poultry
- Fish and Seafood
- Bee Products
- Animal-based Ingredients
RISKS AND HOW TO Minimize THEM
Following a well-planned and balanced diet is important. While the vegan diet is easy to follow and provides various health benefits, a poorly planned vegan diet can cause more harm than good. It can increase the risks of nutrient deficiencies and result in various health problems.
Thus, a well-planned vegan diet should include nutrient-rich whole and fortified foods to help provide adequate nutrient levels. Your plate should be made up of fortified nutrient-rich plant foods, especially those rich in calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
However, if you cannot meet your daily nutrient requirements through diet alone, you should consider supplements. Here are some of them.
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
- Omega-3 fatty acids – ALA, EPA, and DHA
You can maintain your health by including equal portions of nutrient-rich whole and fortified foods in your daily diet. You should start cutting down on highly saturated fats and keep a check on your salt intake.
Always remember to consult with your doctor or dietitian to help you choose the right vegan diet plan. Before starting on your vegan diet, you should ask an expert for help to ensure you get the right mix of nutrients in your new eating plan.