Veganism: How To Do It Right!
First let me start off by emphasizing that Vegan diets are not always the healthiest choice. If you’re doing it for ethical reasons then good for you! BUT if your goal is to shed pounds or be the healthiest you possibly can, you should think twice before abstaining from such a major food group as animal products.
SO what exactly can or can’t you eat on a Vegan diet? All plant-based foods such as veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds and grains are in! On the other hand, any food product that was made from, or contains ingredients that are derived from, a walking or swimming living organism is off limits. This includes beef, chicken, eggs, dairy, and fish. Vegans also avoid wearing leather, fur, wool, etc.
The pros of a Vegan diet are that it is very low in artery-clogging saturated fat that can lead to heart disease or stroke (and of course, vegans also help protect our planet’s cute little animals). The cons are that strict Vegan-eaters are at risk for nutritional deficiencies, especially protein, iron, vitamin D, and B-vitamins. They also tend to complain of increased appetite or weight-gain related to a higher carb or fat diet. Weight gain can be avoided if you plan properly.
In order to stay healthy and satisfied on a Vegan diet, follow these key guidelines:
1) Balance your diet with a variety of veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.
2) Since vegan foods are slightly lower and incomplete sources of protein, consume at least 1.2g of protein per Kg of body weight daily (especially if exercising regularly). For an example, a 130lb person should eat at least 70g of protein per day.
3) Make sure you’re getting all 9 essential amino acids throughout the day which is considered a “complete protein.” Examples of vegan-friendly single ingredient complete proteins include quinoa, hempseed, tofu or soybeans, chia, and buckwheat. When eaten together, rice & beans, pita & hummus, and PB & bread are also complete protein combinations.
4) If you want to avoid weight gain, make sure to incorporate enough protein and fiber (25-35g is recommended for the day) at each meal to stay full. Portion control high-carb or high-fat foods as well. Meet with a trained Registered Dietitian for personal meal planning. And it is always a good idea to take a USP-approved daily Multivitamin whenever trying to cut calories or start a weight loss plan while eating Vegan.