Veganism has been gaining popularity as people of different cultures have realized the benefits of following the lifestyle adopted by vegans. Many entertainers, musicians, movie stars are turning to this type of eating habits. Even Oprah Winfrey took up the vegan challenge recently. Veganism refers to foods that do not contain animal products and though it does not sound easy, it has innumerable benefits.
People are becoming more conscious about protecting animals and keeping them from harm. Many organizations, such as PETA, bring this awareness to the general public by introducing documentaries. The vegan diet is a healthy one to adopt, as you do not inflict your system with tons of fat, or eat processed foods that are made out of animal products. Obesity is becoming an epidemic that is sweeping America, as people consume corn syrups with high fructose, saturated fats and oils that are partially hydrogenated. The prominent advantage, when you go on this type of diet is that you not only cut out unhealthy foods, but you eat foods that are affordable and healthy.
Becoming a vegan is not easy as it is difficult to give up eating meat overnight. Many people, who are lactose intolerant, need to cut out dairy products from the diet. However, it may be difficult to stop eating comfort foods, such as cupcakes, or chicken nuggets altogether especially after a hard day. You will have to make this transition very gradually.
Start by trying to cut down fish and meat generally. Opt for foods such as tofu that is packed with protein. Cook tofu in different ways and you will realize that this versatile food can be prepared in various ways instead of retaining the white “cubed” look. Meat may be difficult to give up, but once you enjoy the flavors of foods such as tofu, you may find it easier.
The next step is to try avoiding cheese products. You can start by not adding cheese to the baked potato. Blue cheese will add flavor to your salad, no doubt, but you can opt not to add this when you begin your vegetarian diet. Use any of the alternatives for dairy cheese suggested so that you do not miss eating cheese.
Butter is not difficult to give up as there are many substitutes available today that give you similar tasting products. Try avoiding eggs by giving up omelets for breakfast and eat dishes that are allowed in the vegan diet.
Today, many substitutes are available that can help you give up favorite foods such as dairy products. Try out Tofutti for instance, as this brand makes ice cream, sour, cream, cream cheese and pizza from non–dairy products so that you do not miss these foods. Whole Foods in your area may also provide a wide range of alternatives.
There is no doubt that it is difficult to become a vegan and give up foods you love. Veganism is becoming a fad for people who lay down strict rules about what they can or cannot eat. For instance some cut out processed sugar and bleached flour from their diets. There are no hard and fast rules in the “vegan code” apart from the fact that animal products are cut out completely. You can make your own diet plans and come up with suitable alternatives to make it easy for you.
Since vegans do not consume dairy, or meat products, they look for foods that are plant-based. The diet therefore consists of a food pyramid that does not include any meats in the diet. Whichever way you look at the pyramid that encompasses vegan food, fruits, fats, vegetables, grains, nuts and legumes are included. These types of dietary foods are classified as vegetarian foods. Vegetarians may practice eating some foods or omitting others.
Here are some classifications of vegans:
A Lacto-Ovo vegan is one who eats dairy products, including eggs, but refrains from eating animal products. A Lacto vegetarian will eat dairy products but no eggs. The Ovo vegetarian eats eggs but does not eat any dairy products or meat. Vegans who do away with eating fish and any animal flesh is called a Pescatarian. The Macrobiotic vegan will consume vegetarian foods that are unprocessed and omit oils and refined sugars from their diet though they may eat fish occasionally. Those who live strictly on foods that are plant-based such as nuts, seeds and fruits that do not harm plants directly are called Fruitarians. The Live Foodist will not touch foods that are cooked over 115 °F and avoid any animal products. The Vegan will not touch animal products or foods that are derived from animals which include eggs and dairy products.
This proves that vegans consider themselves more of vegetarians. This type of diet may prove healthy and nutritious and requires careful planning which is not difficult as many people think it is difficult to plan meals without any meats in the diet.
Many people have a misconception of the vegan diet as they feel that you do not get any calcium, protein or Vitamin B-12 by going on such a diet. However this is a myth. This diet includes rich proteins that are found in grains, tofu, beans and nuts apart from many other such foods. Many people may tell you that animal protein is more beneficial than vegetable protein. This again is a misconception, as it has been proved that excess protein leaches calcium from the bones and causes problems, such as osteoporosis. The Western diet typically includes too many proteins. The proteins that you get from plant foods are more than sufficient for meeting requirements of protein. Calcium is also available in good amounts in plant based foods. Most of the green vegetables, such as bok choy, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, kale and green leafy vegetables that contain low-oxalate provide good healthy amounts of calcium, which are easily absorbed by the system. Vitamin B12 is available in fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, tempeh, milk, miso and other plant foods.
There is no doubt that a vegan diet is healthy and offers numerous benefits to the body. People make personal choices which they prefer to adopt. Every one of us should learn to accept and respect diets that are followed by others and try to pick up good habits. You may find that your lifestyle changes when you try out a unique diet where you may find immense benefits.