What is a Vegan Diet?
A vegan can be traditionally defined as someone who does not consume or use any animal products or animal by-products. A vegan abstains from eating meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and honey. Vegans also abstain from the use of silk, wool, leather, fur, and other products derived from animals or animal products. The most common reasons for veganism are to promote a more caring and humane world, or for health, ethical, and environmental reasons.
Types of vegans
There are varying degrees of veganism. A strict vegan will not eat or use in any way products or by-products from any animal. A dietary vegan adheres to the ideology of not consuming any animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, and honey. A raw vegan abstains from the same foods as a dietary vegan; however, they only consume raw unprocessed foods which are not heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. A fruitarian is a type of raw vegan who only consumes foods which can be harvested without killing the plant such as nuts, seeds, and fruits.
Health Benefits of Following a Healthy Vegan Diet
A good deal of research has been done concerning the benefits of following a healthy vegan lifestyle. A study published in Rheumatology (Oxford) showed that a vegan and gluten free diet was beneficial in reducing antibody levels to food allergens which lead to an improvement in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Additionally, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that for type 2 diabetics, a low-fat vegan diet can lead to “sustained reductions in weight and plasma lipid concentrations.”
How to Eat a Healthy Vegan Diet
In order to ensure that your vegan diet is nutritionally sound it is important to eat a wide variety of things. A healthy vegan diet includes leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. While following a vegan diet one must get adequate amounts of protein, fat, calcium, iron, as well as the major vitamins and minerals. Supplementation is a common practice to ensure good health while following a vegan diet. A high quality daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, a calcium supplement, and a B vitamin supplement are recommended.
The typical vegan menu includes a good deal of tofu and other soy based products including yogurts and meat replacements. It is important to keep the focus on consuming a minimum of 3 servings of fruit and 8 servings of vegetables each day, because it is easy to fall into the trap of eating vegan junk foods instead of fresh healthful foods.
Foods high in iron such as dark leafy greens and dried beans are especially important in a vegan diet. Almonds, soy based products, and dark leafy greens are good sources of calcium and play an important role in a healthy vegan diet.
An example of a vegan menu might include breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks. For breakfast you might enjoy fresh cantaloupe, whole wheat bread, and a tofu scramble. For lunch you might have grapefruit and a large salad including black beans. For dinner quinoa topped with assorted roasted vegetables makes for a filling meal. Your snacks might include soy yogurt topped with flax seed, trail mix, or a fruit salad.
Learn how to follow a healthy vegan diet by visiting these websites: