The Must-Know Tips of Vegan Diet

Charlotte GreenFebruary 27, 2023
Photo by Vanessa Loring on PexelsPhoto by Vanessa Loring on Pexels

However, is a completely plant-based diet truly healthier than a carnivorous one? While the ethical and environmental benefits of veganism are widely accepted and backed by scientific evidence, the health benefits of a plant-based diet have been met with skepticism. Common questions such as "Where do you get your protein from?", "What about iron levels?", and "Have you considered your omega-3 intake?" are frequent concerns for those considering a vegan lifestyle. In the following discussion, we will explore the advantages of a vegan diet, as well as common misconceptions and important factors to consider when transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle.

Here’ re some must-know tips before going vegan.

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Prior to embarking on Veganuary, it is advisable to create a plan with your family. If your family is willing to participate, that's fantastic! However, if they are not interested, it's important not to pressure them, according to Lessem. Instead, lead by example, and as they see you losing weight and gaining energy, they may become inspired to make changes.

Even if your family members are not changing their diet, you can still enlist their support. Establish a system for meal preparation and sharing to avoid the need to make separate meals for yourself and your family.

In the event that no one in your family wants to participate in Veganuary, attempt to find at least one individual to join you. Even if you can only communicate through phone calls or texts, this will allow you to offer each other support as you make the transition to a vegan diet.

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Not all "vegan" diets are necessarily healthy, according to Alexandra Lessem, a family nurse practitioner at Banner Health in Greeley, CO. Although both a vegan diet and a whole-food, plant-based diet eliminate animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs, they are not the same. A vegan diet may include processed foods that are high in sugar, fat, or additives, whereas plant-based diets emphasize consuming foods as close to their natural state as possible. The foundation of a plant-based diet includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Lessem provides an example to illustrate the difference between the two diets. While a raw apple is a classic example of a whole-plant food, an apple pie made with vegan shortening and an egg replacement would be considered vegan, but not whole-food plant-based.

Photo by Kyle Mackie on UnsplashPhoto by Kyle Mackie on Unsplash

A common misconception is that individuals who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet may have insufficient iron intake. Iron is a vital nutrient that promotes energy and supports our immune system. Inadequate intake of iron from food can lead to iron deficiency anemia, a condition characterized by a deficiency of healthy red blood cells in the blood, resulting in symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet, and pale skin.

Although iron from meat is easily absorbed by the body, certain plant-based foods are also excellent sources of iron. Beetroots, oats, spinach, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, chard, strawberries, and legumes are all rich in iron. To optimize the absorption of iron, it is recommended to consume vitamin C simultaneously.

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Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that individuals following a vegan diet must be mindful of. Unfortunately, this vitamin is primarily found in animal-based products such as meat and dairy. Although some nutritional yeasts contain vitamin B12, it is now commonly added to plant-based milk and cereals.

Our bodies require vitamin B12 to produce red blood cells and maintain a healthy neurological system. Inadequate intake of this vitamin can result in symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of appetite, and depression. As vitamin B12 is a crucial component for our overall health and is rarely found in plant-based foods, it is recommended to take a supplement when adopting a vegan lifestyle.

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It's always a good idea to consult with a licensed healthcare professional, such as a nutritionist or dietitian, before making any significant dietary changes, especially if you have a chronic disease.

Switching to a vegan diet can have many health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer, as well as improving digestion and weight management. However, it can also pose certain challenges, particularly if you have a chronic disease. For example, if you have diabetes, you may need to be careful about your carbohydrate intake and monitor your blood sugar levels closely. If you have kidney disease, you may need to limit your protein intake.

Photo by Alfonso Cerezo on PixabayPhoto by Alfonso Cerezo on Pixabay

Keep learning is a vital message that applies to all aspects of life, including veganism. As you continue on your vegan journey, you may encounter challenges, new information, and different perspectives that require you to expand your knowledge and understanding of the lifestyle. By keeping an open mind and a willingness to learn, you can deepen your commitment to veganism and make informed decisions that align with your values.

It's also important to remember that veganism is a relatively new concept to many people, despite being around since 1944. Therefore, it's essential to be patient with yourself as you navigate this learning curve. Allow yourself time to absorb and process new information, and don't be too hard on yourself if you make mistakes along the way.