Veganism is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes meat, poultry, fish, or any products derived from animals, including eggs, dairy products, and gelatin. Many vegans also do not eat foods that are processed using animal products, such as refined white sugar and some wines.
Mostly, people opt for vegan food due to health issues, environmental concerns or ethical reasons. For instance, some vegan food consumers feel that the consumers of farm or dairy products such as eggs, milk, etc. endorses the meat industry because in numerous occasions, when cows or chickens become too old to be productive, they are sold to be butchered for meat. Whereas, male calves, who do not produce milk are usually raised for veal or other such products since their birth, which is very amoral. Such specific reasons related with their origin and production led many people to avoid these items.
Many vegans choose this lifestyle to promote a more humane and caring world. They know they are not perfect, but believe they have a responsibility to try to do their best, while not being judgmental of others.
In order to attain full nutrition from a Vegan diet, it is important to include a lot of variety in the food, which should include fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF VEGAN DIETS
Vegan diets are usually higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamins C and E, iron, and phytochemicals, and they tend to be lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol, long-chain n:-3 (omega-3) fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B-12. A vegan diet appears to be useful for increasing the intake of protective nutrients and phytochemicals and for minimizing the intake of dietary factors implicated in several chronic diseases.
Vegan diets constitute a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables, which are rich in fiber, folic acid, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, is associated with lower blood cholesterol concentrations, a lower incidence of stroke, and a lower risk of mortality from stroke and ischemic heart disease. Vegans also have a higher consumption of whole grains, soy, and nuts, all of which provide significant cardio protective effects.
Vegans consume considerably more legumes, total fruit and vegetables, tomatoes, allium vegetables, fiber, and vitamin C. All these foods and nutrients are protective against cancer. The vegan foods help in protecting against an array of cancers ranging from those of mouth, esophagus, to pancreatic & colorectal cancers.
Bone health depends on more than just protein and calcium intakes and is also influenced by nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin K, potassium, and magnesium and by foods such as soy and fruit and vegetables. Vegan diets do well in providing a number of these important substances. A diet rich in fruit and vegetables that is typical of a vegan diet has a positive effect on the calcium economy and markers of bone metabolism in men and women. Higher intakes of potassium are associated with greater BMD of the femoral neck and lumbar spine of premenopausal women.
HEALTH RISKS OF VEGAN DIETS
- Vegan Diets are generally more deficient in many important nutrients such as Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D. This is because of the phytate & oxalate content they contain which binds these essential minerals & make it unavailable to the body. This can definitely result in their deficiency disorders in the long run.
- These diets would be sub optimal in providing good quality essential fats for the body, which mainly is abundantly available in milk & other dairy products. The right combination of omega 3 & omega 6 fatty acids may not be available.
- Also, good quality proteins of high biological value may not be necessarily available through such diets in the long run.
Overall, the vegan diets can be adopted for a short period of time to relax the digestive system from fat & protein rich animal foods; but it may not be nutritionally healthy to continue in the long run.
VEGAN DIET & WEIGHT LOSS :- DOES IT REALLY WORK???
It may not be always effective as vegetarian food is not essentially a weight-loss diet, but rather a question of principle and personal choice. However, it is observed that adults and children who consume vegan meal are generally leaner than non-veg food eaters. This may be because in a vegan diet, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant-based protein foods that are taken in large quantity which are more filling, high in fiber, but, less in calorie and fats.
But a vegan diet isn't automatically low calorie. You can gain weight on a vegan diet if your portion sizes are too big or if you eat too many high-calorie foods, such as sweetened beverages, fried items, snack foods and desserts.
Even some foods marketed as vegan can be high in calories and fat, such as soy hot dogs, soy cheese, refried beans and snack bars.
Whether you avoid or eat meat or animal products, the basics of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight are the same for all people. Eat a healthy diet and balance calories eaten with calories burned.