Why Switch to a Vegan Diet?
It is only wise that one pays attention to what they eat or drink because these things have health implications. Some experts advise regulation in food varieties, say a reduction of cholesterol-contributing products like meat, chicken, dairy products and more, but here, we talk about how one can transition from diary to a fully vegan diet.
How to Eat Healthy?
Living in the information age, we are more aware of the health implications of our decisions and more often than not, we’ve found ourselves torn between taste and health. Sometimes we are so used to a certain lifestyle that we feel it is almost impossible to adapt a totally new one. Hard as it may seem, transitioning from dairy to a totally plant-based vegan diet is 100% possible. Many have done it, you too can!
Dairy products and fish have been popular for their delectable tastes and high concentrations of protein (beef, chicken, eggs, milk), but the same products contribute an almost equal amount of cholesterol to one’s health. Beneficial as these products maybe, scientists have found that a person does not necessarily need to eat meat or chicken or any dairy products to enrich their protein levels. Legumes (beans, peas, groundnuts, etc.) have been known to contain high levels of protein and in addition, fiber.
For this reason many people have found reason to transition from dairy products to a fully vegan diet. A vegan lifestyle has tremendous health benefits, some of which include improving levels of fitness and reducing the risk of getting several chronic diseases.
Health Benefits to Going Vegan
- Reduced sugar levels: Meat and dairy products naturally take longer and more energy to digest that plant foods, hence some are converted to glucose when consumed in excess. Scientists say that the human body does not require meat products to survive, but if one were to consume any, it would be best to have just one barbecue serving a week. But as we all know, we tend to consume more meat products everyday than we might water, contributing to an extra load of glucose in our bodies. Therefore, going vegan reduces highly on the sugar levels in one’s body.
- Reduced levels of cholesterol: Meat, dairy and poultry products have been known to contribute most to weight gaining simply because of the fats and oils introduced into one’s body, building on the cholesterol levels in one’s body.
- Improved respiratory functions: By reducing on the levels of cholesterol in one’s body, clogged veins and arteries carrying blood are clogged in the process, leading to improved blood circulation throughout the body. When the blood flow is smooth, this implies that deoxygenated blood gets to the lungs just in time to get oxygenated and the different body parts are served in time, hence improved breathing.
- Improved healing: Vegan diet involves an intake of plant nutrients which have been known to quicken the healing process. With blood flowing smoothly through the body, platelets are transported more quickly to the injured area, hence alleviating the pain and clotting blood.
- Supports high levels of fitness: With improved blood circulation and respiration, one’s muscles can stretch and heal more efficiently.
Good for the Environment
Veganism promotes sustainable methods of farming since vegans depend entirely on plant products which means the environment must be kept intact. In addition, animal farming takes up a greater fraction of arable land which if converted to agriculture, more people will be fed. The dairy industry plays a big role in promoting global warming through their contribution to the carbon in the atmosphere. Therefore, going vegan is a passively active action towards reducing global warming.
Tips on How to Go Vegan
- Include More Vegetables in Your Meals
Vegetable meals are packed with vitamins (A and K), minerals (potassium), and fiber. They satisfy and give keep your calories in check.
- Eat a Variety of Foods
Eating balanced meals is essential to a vegan diet in order to get all the necessary nutrients. For example, beans are rich in protein and fiber; leafy greens in of vitamins A, C and K. Red tomatoes have heart-healthy lycopene, blue blueberries have anthocyanins that help in brain-boosting.
- Eat Whole Grains
Whole grains such as quinoa and brown rice contain nutrients like vitamin B and iron which are stripped when the grains are refined. Try to avoid refined grains like white bread and white pasta. Whole grains are also rich in fiber keeps you full and may help you lose weight.
- Discover New Plant-Based Proteins
Plant-based protein is advised over animal protein because animal protein such as beef, bacon, cheese, have a high concentration of unsaturated fat. There is a plenitude of sources for vegan protein, some of these include: soybeans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, tempeh, tofu, etc.
Nuts like walnuts and almonds are a nutritious addition to the diet. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds a great protein source too. Contrary to the common claim that a vegan diet comes short in its provision of protein, with the right diet plan, a vegan will have more than enough vitamin and will never worry about rapidly accumulating cholesterol.
- Don’t Trust Everything Labeled Vegan
Just like regular cookies, vegan cookies can be detrimental to your waistline. Processed vegan foods usually contain coconut oil and palm oil which are loaded with saturated fat. It is advisable to stick to whole foods like carrots, humus, dried fruits, guacamole, nuts, nutritious foods which are good for your health.
- Focus On Fish-Free Omega-3s
In a vegan diet, some food nutrients like DHA and EPA (types of omega-3 fatty acids are hard to come by. These nutrients are essential for brain and eye development. Omega 3 fatty acids are found mainly in fatty fish like salmon, though they can be made by the body in small amounts from ALA, another type of omega-3 that's found in plants like flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil and soy. A variety of foods, including soymilks and breakfast bars, are now fortified with DHA. Supplements of DHA/EPA made from algae are also available.
- Remember your Vitamin D
Most people get vitamin D from canned fish like salmon and sardines and fortified dairy products like milk and yogurt, but vitamin D is also in some fortified nondairy milks such as soy or almond milk and orange juice. Some mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light are also good sources. In the summer months, when the sun is stronger our skin can synthesize D. The daily value (DV) for vitamin D is 600 IU, with some experts saying that it should be closer to 1,500 IU. Many people, vegans included, may need to take a supplement to hit those numbers.
- Pump Up Your Iron
Animal proteins like meat and chicken are the best sources of iron, which is another nutrient that's important for vegans to pay attention to. Vegans can still get this mineral from beans, legumes and leafy greens, but iron from plant sources (non-heme iron) isn't as easily absorbed as it is from meat sources (heme iron). To get the most of plant-based iron, eat iron-rich foods with vitamin-C rich foods, which helps boost absorption, and not at the same time as calcium-rich foods, which can inhibit iron absorption.
- Don’t forget B12
Vitamin B12—a vitamin that helps transform food into energy in our bodies and aids in brain function—is found mainly in animal foods, such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and dairy foods. People following a vegan diet can get some B12 from fortified cereals or energy bars, but should talk with their doctor about taking a supplement. The DV for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for most adults.