Different kinds of diets come to mind when people talk about losing weight. We have the Paleo Diet, the Ketogenic Diet, the South Beach Diet, and the list goes on. Each has its own philosophy as to why it works the best in shedding pounds. Some are backed by science, but others are completely out of this world. At the end of the day, they all claim that you’ll lose the weight, and have a healthier lifestyle. But what about going on a vegan diet? What’s it all about, and does it deliver on its promises? Can you even call it a diet?
Basically, a vegan diet entails eliminating all animal products. And by all, I’m talking about beef, chicken, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey, and even leather and silk. As long as animals were used/harmed/tested on in making those products, you can’t consume them. So why do people follow this? Because it all boils down to ethics.
I was a vegan 2 years ago because of a friend of mine. He provided me with reasons why going on a vegan diet will be the best decision I would ever make. He then showed me videos of people like Gary Yourofsky, an animal rights activist, who would visit places just to preach about veganism. Eventually, I did my own research about it. Some people switched to this diet to become healthier, others due to religion. But most wanted change.
I then found out that veganism wasn’t just a normal diet, but a lifestyle. People practice it because they want to be more compassionate towards animals. They don’t want to harm, more so kill them. Suddenly, a diet becomes a question of morality. Should humans consider themselves superior to animals, and because of this, consume them for sustenance? What about harming them for fun? This “diet” gave me a different perspective on our relationship with food. In a fast-paced life, we don’t have the time to question where our food comes from. We go to the supermarket already with a grocery list on hand. We absentmindedly go through the motions – dry goods first, vegetable next, then meat section last. It becomes a continuous cycle, but we’ve never stopped and asked: Why is chicken good for me? What can this vegetable do for my body? Where do our meats come from? If you take some time to internalize all these, then you’ll have a deeper appreciation of the food you eat daily. Veganism did this for me because not only was I healthier during this time, but I felt that I was a better person just by practicing it. I adopted a plant-based diet, indirectly saved some animals and, to some extent, the environment; and supported our local farmers by buying their produce more often. What started out as a way for me to lose my fat became so much more.
In retrospect, the vegan lifestyle, as with any other diet, did give me the results I wanted. I felt lighter, more energetic, and just good all around. Before trying out any diet though, be sure to consult with your doctor first, and actively monitor how your body reacts. Some may need to add supplements like vitamin B12. Listen to your body, and always weigh in the pros and cons when trying out something. Finally, always keep an open mind. Know why you’re doing this because this will help make whatever diet more sustainable and fun. I’ve met people from different walks of life who helped me along my vegan journey. Enjoy the process cause as they all say, “life is a marathon, not a sprint,” and I hope that you apply this to your health lifestyle as well.
Benefits of A Vegan Diet:
- Low in saturated fat
- Rich in fiber and nutrients
- Lowers cancer risk
- Protection against chronic diseases
Considerations Before Turning Vegan:
- Vitamin B12 – needed to protect the nerves and red blood cells (vegan source: B12 fortified plant foods and nutritional yeast)
- Iron – nutrient for absorbing oxygen into the blood and transporting it to the cells of the body (dried beans and dark leafy greens)
- Calcium – for bone health and development (tofu and green leafy vegetables)
- Vitamin D – protection against multiple cancers and chronic diseases; helps to strengthen bones and teeth (vitamin D-fortified food and the sun)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – vital for a healthy heart, eye function, and brain function (ground flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil – only ALA and DHA)
- Zinc – vital for a healthy immune system (whole grains and legumes)
- Calories – a vegan diet can reduce the intake of calories (try meal planning to ensure the right amount of caloric intake)