- Eating vegan diets can help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
- Plant-based proteins, healthy fats & oils, complex carbohydrates, and vitamins/minerals need to be included in a balanced vegan diet.
- Vegan-friendly skincare products should be checked for animal-derived ingredients or animal testing.
- Social changes may need to be made when going vegan such as researching restaurants and informing friends/family of dietary needs.
Going vegan is a lifestyle choice that has been becoming increasingly popular in recent years. There are many reasons why people may choose to adopt a vegan diet, from environmental concerns to animal welfare and health benefits. Nutritionists have long recommended that people include more plant-based foods in their diet for their positive effects on health. Research suggests that veganism can help reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.
A Harvard University School of Public Health study found that vegetarian diets were associated with lower death rates from ischemic heart disease and overall mortality than non-vegetarian diets. The same study found that vegans had the lowest BMI (body mass index), weighed the least, and had lower cholesterol levels than vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
However, committing to the new lifestyle can be challenging, especially if you are not aware of the areas that could be affected. Here are some of the places to consider when going vegan:
Nutrition and Diet
When going vegan, one of the most apparent changes that must be made is to your food choices. Eating a plant-based diet requires careful consideration when deciding what to eat. To ensure that nutritional needs are met, vegans must know what foods contain essential vitamins and minerals and how to combine them to create a balanced diet. The following subheadings provide adjustments that need to be made when going vegan:
To get enough protein on a vegan diet, it is essential to focus on plant-based sources such as beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan (wheat gluten), quinoa, and other grains. These plants can provide adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids for optimal health. Additionally, many vegan foods such as oatmeal, peanut butter, almond milk, and chia seeds are also high in protein.
Fats & Oils
Healthy fats are an essential part of any healthy diet, including vegans. Getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids from flaxseed and hemp seed oil sources is necessary. Other good fat sources include avocados, olives, their oils, nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, nut butter, tahini, and coconut products like coconut oil milk.
Like with protein sources and fats/oils, vegans must also ensure they get enough complex carbohydrates from plant-based sources to sustain energy throughout the day. Good sources include whole grains (like oats or quinoa), starchy vegetables (like potatoes or sweet potatoes), legumes (like beans or lentils), fruits, nuts, nut butter, avocado, dark leafy greens (spinach or kale), and pseudo-cereals (amaranth or buckwheat).
Vitamins & Minerals
Vegans should also focus on consuming foods that are high in vitamin A-K, such as dark green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale; yellow/orange fruits such as sweet potato or carrots; citrus fruits like oranges or lemons; cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli) and legumes such as chickpeas or black beans. Furthermore, adding fortified cereals/grains can help increase vitamin B12 intake since this vitamin is often tricky for vegans to obtain naturally since it is found primarily in animal products.
Skincare and Beauty
Skincare routines must also be adjusted when switching to a vegan lifestyle. While a plant-based diet benefits skin health, skincare products may also contain animal-derived ingredients such as lanolin, beeswax, carmine, collagen, and more, which are unacceptable for vegans.
To ensure one’s skincare routine is vegan-friendly and cruelty-free, avoiding any product that features animal ingredients in its ingredient list is essential. Additionally, checking the labels of all beauty products should be done to ensure that no animal testing has been conducted in the process of creating them.
Vegans can use a vegan renewal serum to ensure their skincare routine aligns with their values. This type of serum can provide essential skin health nutrients while avoiding animal-derived ingredients or byproducts. It typically contains natural oils and extracts such as avocado oil, aloe vera extract, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, green tea extract, and more which are safe and beneficial for skin health. It is also free from synthetic fragrances or parabens that can irritate sensitive skin.
Going vegan can also require some social adjustments. Eating out with friends and family may become problematic if they do not share your beliefs. It is essential to be prepared for situations like these by researching restaurants ahead of time that are vegan-friendly or by offering to bring food from home. Many non-vegan restaurants have started to provide more vegan options due to the growing popularity of veganism, so it is worth asking them about their menu before deciding where to go. Also, it may be helpful to let you know your dietary needs beforehand so that everyone can be on the same page when eating together.
Going vegan can be challenging but achievable with the proper knowledge and preparation. Understanding the nutrition and diet changes, skincare and beauty adjustments, and potential social changes needed when transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can help ease this process. The key is to be prepared and take it one step at a time to succeed in making the switch. With some research and determination, becoming a vegan is within reach!