The vegan diet has become increasingly popular with many people across the globe. People pick the vegan lifestyle either for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. Recently I met a couple from New York who turned to a vegan lifestyle because of a major health scare. I also have friends who choose a vegan lifestyle because of their love for animals. Regardless of the reason for the lifestyle, they all stand for the same cause.
If you are considering a vegan lifestyle we at TABIIB want to help you understand the basics of this lifestyle.
What Does Veganism Mean
“Veganism is a way of life that excludes all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty for various uses including food and clothing”. Despite having the same belief, there are different types of vegans and vegan diets. Usually, people choose to turn vegan for different reasons, so veganism is also divided into categories based on these reasons. As of today, there are four main types of vegans:
- Ethical – Ethical vegans are people who pick veganism for their love for animals. They believe that exploiting animals and killing them for meat or other products is wrong.
- Environmental – Environmental vegans are individuals that pick veganism to decrease their carbon footprint and live a greener lifestyle.
- Health – Health vegans are people who pick this particular lifestyle for the wellbeing of their body. After ethical vegans, health vegans are the most common type of vegans.
- Religious – Religious vegans choose veganism due to their spiritual beliefs. For instance, Jainism is an ancient Indian religion where its followers believe that if they don’t abandon all violent activity their religious behavior is worthless. The non-violence belief of their religion extends to their food as well, meaning they consume a non-violent diet.
As mentioned earlier, veganism is the practice of not using any animal products. In the same way, a vegan diet consists of no animal products. Vegans abstain from eating all animal products including dairy, eggs, and meat. Usually, they consume things such as nuts, grains, tofu, nut milk, beans, vegetables, fruits, dark chocolate, pasta, bread, and so on. All vegan diets are devoid of animal products, however, there are different varieties of the diet. The most common ones include:
- Raw Vegan Diet – As the name suggests, in this type of diet people consume uncooked food
- Gluten-free Vegan Diet – In a gluten-free diet, people don’t consume any form of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley
- Whole-food Vegan Diet – Individuals who follow this type of diet consume a whole-foods rich meal. The whole foods usually include fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds
- Junk-food Vegan Diet – A junk food vegan diet relies heavily on processed vegan foods such as mock meats, mock cheeses, fries, and vegan desserts.
- Raw Till 4 – In a raw vegan diet, vegans eat raw food until 4 pm, with an option of eating cooked food after that
- Paleo Vegan Diet – The paleo vegan diet is an inspiration from the paleo diet, an eating plan which mimics how cavemen used to eat. The diet primarily consists of food that people can theoretically gather from the forest.
Vegan Diet And Health
The vegan diet is popularly known to have various health benefits, including better heart health, lower risk of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Firstly, a vegan diet is particularly known to improve heart health as it eliminates major sources of saturated fats. A large scale study conducted in 2019 also identified that plant-based diets are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Secondly, this form of diet is also known to reduce the risk of cancer. A 2017 study identified that a plant-based diet decreased the risk of cancer by 15%. Researchers think that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of cancer as plants are rich in nutrients that protect the body from cancer.
Lastly, a plant-based diet is known to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A large scale study conducted in 2019 demonstrated evidence that plant-based dietary patterns reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Getting The Right Nutrition
If you are planning to move to a vegan diet, you need to plan thoroughly to ensure that you get all the nutrients your body needs. If you don’t plan your diet properly, your body will miss out on nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamin B12 and become nutrient-deficient. Vegan diets are growing in popularity so if you want to give this lifestyle you could start by consulting a nutritionist.