Veganism: The Diet Sweeping the Nation!

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Veganism: The Diet Sweeping the Nation!

By: Camilla Wnek, Reporter

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“Veganism” and Vegan diet has been a pretty controversial topic for over a long time now.  People have both strong opinions supporting the lifestyle and opposing it.

What is Veganism?

Veganism is based around an animal-cruelty free lifestyle.  The Vegan Diet focuses on plant-based foods, no animal products what so ever.  It eliminates animal meats- fish, chicken, beef, dog, venison, seafood, pork, etc.  It also avoids foods derived from animals such as all forms of dairy- milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc.

Due to the fact that honey is derived from the help of honeybees, this would mean honey wouldn’t be approved by the vegan diet either.

The diet emphasizes on the usage and consumption of plant- based goods and foods.

Emphasized food groups include:

  • Tubers and Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, yams, etc.),
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas, etc.,
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, etc.),
  • Whole Grains (quinoa, rice, buckwheat, etc.),
  • Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
  • Fruits (bananas, strawberries, apples, etc.)
  • Seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Nuts (Almonds, cashews, etc.)
  • Healthy fats and Oils (Avocado, coconut oil, etc.)

Upsides & Benefits

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Upon the emphasis of plant-based foods and the elimination of animal products, the lifestyle proves to have many benefits.  The diet has allowed many to restore their weight to a proper level.  Adding more plants into your diet increases your fiber and nutrient intake, helping you maintain a healthy weight.  People also start eating healthier upon experimenting and trying different grains, beans, nuts, fruits, etc. However, this goes for both healthy weight loss AND healthy weight gain as well.  It has been proven by many bodybuilders that one can easily gain muscle on this plant- based lifestyle.  Bodybuilders like Torre Washington, Korin Sutton and Dominick Thompson ave proven that one can get shredded following the vegan diet.  

Better Athletic performance

The Vegan diet has been proven to be beneficial to many other athletes as well.  Athletes such as Scott Jurek (ultra-marathoner), Jermain Defoe (professional soccer player), Lizzie Deignan (world champion cyclist) and many more have performed better due to the plant-based lifestyle.  Some say that the vegan diet allowed them to perform even better than their previous diets, allowing for better recovery, performance and stamina.

Curing Different illnesses/ Medical Conditions

The plant-based lifestyle has proven to alleviate/ cure the symptoms of many serious health conditions.  People suffering from diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension and even Cancer have been cured by the vegan diet.  Conditions such as asthma and acne have also been healed upon following this lifestyle.

The diet is also famous for balancing hormones as well.  From Ammenorhea to Thyroid problems, the  diet has proved to restore hormones to a healthy level.  Studies have shown that hormonal levels improve for those who transitioned to this diet have benefited from limiting animal products and including more plants.  Due to fact that animal products contain a lot of different growth hormones, it’s no wonder they cause hormonal issues in the first place.  Focusing on vegetables, fruits and grains detoxes the body from the artificial chemicals the body takes in from processed animal products.

The vegan diet was also successful in healing minor yet common health problems as well.  Teenage acne, constipation, low energy and more issues have been fixed by this lifestyle.

Downsides

Despite the lifestyle’s benefits, there are downsides to every diet one can follow.  One has to be smart when they go vegan, if they aren’t careful, they can put their health at risk.

Not Enough Protein

The vegan diet limits the consumption of any kinds of meat, eggs and cheese.  Those are common protein sources and often provide even more than plant-based sources. Vegans have to turn to beans, nuts, seeds and protein powders to get their protein in.  Often, beans and legumes don’t have as much protein as animal- derived proteins. One sometimes would have to eat a large amount of beans/nuts/seeds to make up for the protein from meat.

People following this diet have to experiment with “mock-meats” and plant-based sources such as tofu, tempeh or seitan.  Due to proteins such as chicken, fish or egg being simpler, they are often a healthier choice.  Certain “plant meats” often have a lot of ingredients and can be heavily processed.

Nutrient Deficits

Due to the limitation of different animal products- meat, dairy products, eggs- one can limit themselves from receiving different nutrients.  Vegans often miss out on nutrients such as Vitamin B12, Iron, Taurine and more.  These nutrients are essential for optimal health.  Symptoms of not having enough of these nutrients include fatigue, weakened organs and neurological disorders.  Vegans can often put themselves at great risk if they do not make up for the nutrients they skimp out on from avoiding animal products. Whether it is through taking supplements to eating specific foods, people are highly suggested to make up for those nutrients missed.

The diet can be hard to follow

The vegan diet isn’t the easiest one to follow.  Eating on the vegan diet can often be pretty expensive and unconventional depending on the situation.  Shopping for vegan items can get expensive, as supplements, protein powders, plant-meats and such products are pricey.  Also, just because an item says it is “plant-based” doesn’t mean that it is entirely vegan.  Products such as Gelatin, bone char and even certain sugars are not vegan, making it hard to completely plant-based.

Many restaurants tend to have animal products on their menu, or at least dishes with animal products in them.  It sometimes may be hard for one to eat out due to the many limits they have due to their lifestyle.  Nowadays, many restaurant chains have vegan and vegetarian options, but probably not as much as animal-based ones.

Environmental Impact

It has been proven that the Vegan diet has a positive impact on the environment.  It’s surprising how livestock production is one of the leading causes of pollution.   Apart from already using and making chemically-altered crops to enlarge the livestock for more product (be it meat/ milk/ etc.), the (animal) farming industry hurts the environment in many different ways.  Raising livestock requires a lot of land- which means cutting out forests and clearing land to make space for that.  A lot of fossil fuels are also used to fuel factories and meat-packing plants, as opposed to the agricultural or crop industry.

Conclusion

The vegan diet has many benefits.  Apart from better health and well-being, the lifestyle also has a positive impact on our environment.  It is proven that going vegan can help heal many illnesses, even more so than medication alone.  Also, the fact that eating plant-based not only saves animal lives, but hundreds miles of rain forests and nature is a big win!  However, the diet can be very inconvenient if not done the right way.  The diet has the potential to make someone ill if they do not cover their basic nutrient needs.  It is important to educate oneself about going about the diet smartly, to get enough of each nutrient and to go for for whole foods.  It is wise to think well about buying/consuming vegan products- making sure they are actually good for you, not just lacking animal- based ingredients.

Therefore when one decides to transition onto a vegan lifestyle, one should maybe think twice if it will truly serve them.  With many upsides such as ameliorating health and helping the environment, there is no wonder why has this diet become so popular.   If the vegan lifestyle is approached through a balanced perspective, it may as well be one of the healthiest lifestyles there is!

 

 

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