Eating vegan is a health trend that has grown in popularity over the recent years.
Yet the decision on whether or not to eat meat is still difficult for many people.
Eating meat has some advantages…
It tastes good. And for that reason, the majority of restaurants feature it as the staple in almost all of the options on their menu.
It provides lots of protein, one of the three important macronutrients. This is especially useful for people who are looking to grow more muscle and improve their strength.
And it leaves you feeling full and satisfied. For those of us looking to lose weight, that can provide a great advantage over consuming excess carbs.
Yet eating meat has a number of disadvantages.
And not only does eating meat have a number of disadvantages, eating all animal products in general (including dairy and eggs) have disadvantages.
So let’s take a look at some of the advantages of a vegan diet and how it can actually become a quiet practical and satisfying approach to eating…
Eat Vegan to Improve Your Nutrition and Lower Your Risk of Disease
When I first started eating vegan, I thought it would be difficult.
As a naturally slender person, I worried that I would not be able to consume enough calories to sustain a healthy body weight.
But I really wanted to pursue a diet that felt cleaner and healthier, not to mention one that was quicker and easier to prepare.
So it wasn’t just for ethical and environmental reasons that I decided to convert, although after the number of documentaries I have seen, I admit that this was a very strong motivating factor.
Eventually, I found a way of eating vegan that I could customize to my own body type, so that I could enjoy all the great benefits that go along with it.
Let’s first look at some of the personal benefits of a vegan diet...
Vegan diets are healthier
Vegan diets, as compared with omnivorous diets, tend to be higher in certain nutrients. According to one study, those nutrients include folic acid, vitamins C and E, potassium, magnesium, and many phytochemicals. While it’s possible to be a junk-food vegan — eating mostly potato chips, for example — vegans can more easily obtain an abundance of nutrients since they tend to base their diets around a broad variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Another study found that subjects on a vegan diet obtained a greater variety of antioxidants as compared with their omnivorous controls. Antioxidants protect the cells against free radicals, bad stuff caused by exposure to things like smoke and radiation.
Vegan diets also contain more less saturated fat and cholesterol. While consumption of a certain amount of fat is important and necessary for survival, not all fats are created equal. Saturated fats and trans fats tend to cause an increase in fat on the body, whereas poly-and monounsaturated fats do not. Animal products are especially high in saturated fats. Avocados and nuts, for example, contain unsaturated fats.
And finally, vegan diets contain more fiber. Fiber is essential to our digestive system and necessary for “keeping us regular” through bowel movements. Fiber can help us feel fuller longer. Fiber helps detox our bodies by absorbing a lot of the bad stuff in our body so we can excrete it. Fiber can help us feel fuller longer, and that can help prevent cravings for unhealthy foods.
Vegan diets present lower risk of chronic disease
Vegans are typically at lower risk of developing chronic disease, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
One systematic review very succinctly illustrated how all 4 of those diseases were reduced through a vegan diet:
Obesity risk is lower through a vegan diet due to an lower intake of caloric saturated fats from animal sources that raise the Body Mass Index to unhealthy levels. Obesity is often a precursor to other diseases.
Cardiovascular disease risk is lower through a vegan diet because the high consumption of fiber, folic acid, antioxidants, and phytochemicals through fruits and vegetables leads to lower blood cholesterol concentrations and lower stroke incidence. Not only that, whole grains, soy, and nuts have cardioprotective effects.
Cancer risk is lower through a vegan diet because many of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains provide protective effects against the disease. Those protective effects extend to areas like the lung, mouth, esophagus, and stomach especially. Vegans also avoid certain foods, like red meat and processed meat, which are consistently and definitely linked to an increased incidence of cancer. The one fifth of the population with the highest red meat consumption elevated risk of cancer by 20% to 60%, as compared with that of the lowest consumption.
Finally, diabetes risk is reduced because the vegetables and whole grains associated with vegan diets lower blood sugar levels.
Make Eating Vegan a Daily Habit with These Simple Foods
Vegan meals are simpler, and therefore quicker and easier to prepare. After all, it’s just vegetables…
Well, not just vegetables, but lots of them.
While vegan diets may sound boring, the number of vegetables we can choose to incorporate in a meal is quite broad. And we always have access to a spice cabinet that will allow is to improve the flavor of our food.
Whereas meats have to be cooked at an optimal temperature and for a prescribed length, it’s harder to over-do or under-do a vegan meal. If we undercook our vegetables, that has a certain set of advantages — more energizing — and if we overcook our vegetables that has a corresponding set of advantages — more grounding. Whether to eat vegetables cooked or raw has a lot to do our dosha, which I will write more about later.
I personally spend about an hour cooking every single day. I cook dinner around 8 pm, and I prepare twice the amount that I can eat for dinner — that way I can put the other half in Tupperware and eat it for lunch the next day.
Let’s looks at the foods that you will want to consider incorporating in every vegan meal to ensure a balance of all three macronutrients — protein, fat, and carbs.
I find the following classifications of vegetables helpful:
2. Whole grains
While I stick mostly to brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, we have plenty of other options…
I tend to rotate between black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas. But again, we have plenty of other shapes and colors to select.
My favorite kind of potato is the sweet potato, as they possess the greatest number of nutrients. But I also like eating other varieties of potatoes.
I typically sprinkle nuts and seeds onto my oatmeal in the morning. I also eat them as a snack. I also eat nuts in the form of nut butter, such as peanut butter and almond butter. Nuts tend to be higher in monounsaturated fat, whereas seeds are higher in polyunsaturated fat.
6. Avocados and olives
Avocados and olives are both high in monounsaturated fat. I eat avocado or guacamole with nearly every other meal. And I eat olive oils with salads.
7. Soy and pea protein
I try to incorporate some form of plant protein in every meal. I eat organic firm tofu, which contains soy. But I also eat some product that contain pea protein. I like the beyond meat brand especially. I also mix vegan protein powder with almond milk or soy milk in the morning.