For a long time, the only dietary lifestyle I was ever aware of was vegetarianism. It seems like so many more diets are emerging nowadays. Currently, diets such as veganism, Paleo, pescetarianism, gluten free, lactose free, and raw cleanses are extremely popular. I find all of these diets are really interesting. But the one I am most fascinated by is veganism.
“Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products” (‘Medical’). I know several vegan’s that only pertain to the dietary aspect of this lifestyle. It just depends on one’s reason for adapting a vegan diet, which I will discuss in a moment. I find the vegan diet extremely inspirational. To give a bit of background, about two years ago I bought a rabbit. Rabbits can only eat hay and fresh vegetables. I joked that since I would have to have fresh vegetables on hand, I would eat healthier. That joke turned out to be true. I have been incorporating vegetables into my diet more and more. It was my rabbit that began my fascination with veganism. I feel that veganism is a way to treat your body well. Our bodies are not meant to eat so many animal products. If as a culture we could learn to live off plant based food more, the health of our country might not be such an issue.
Here are a just a few reasons why someone would choose to be vegan.
Nutrition and Health
Some are drawn to the wonderful health benefits that this lifestyle can provide. “Studies show that eating animal fats and proteins raise a person’s risk of developing cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, and numerous other diseases” (‘Medical’). Many also make the argument we were not made to drink cow’s milk. Yes, we physically can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that health wise we should. It is extremely obvious that the health benefits can attract people to this lifestyle. For many, this is just their first step in performing a body cleanse, or a diet for weight loss.
The ethics of the treatment of animals in the agricultural segment can also be a reason for veganism. Most of us are aware that animals that are raised solely for their meat do not live the best lives. In that industry, they are just treated as any other inventory. Those people that become vegan for this reason feel this animal treatment is highly unethical, and do not want to support this industry in any way. They protest this by not supporting them including the consumption of animal by products such as cheese, eggs, or milk. Once animals become useless in creating these products, they are slaughtered as well. I am not here to argue about animal rights but to explain the reasoning behind this lifestyle.
There is a huge sustainable movement occurring in our generation. With that our diets are being affected also. You can incorporate veganism it into your life to live a more eco friendly life. There are a lot of claims on the fact that the livestock farming has a lot of harm on the environment. Some also claim that they feel more in touch with nature when they eat clean.
There are some that become vegan for a combination of all or some of these reasons. There are also many other reasons that someone would choose to become vegan but these are just a few of the major reasons.
There are plenty of positive things about a vegan diet. “Most doctors and nutritionists agree that a low-fat diet high in fruits, vegetables, and nuts can be a boon to health. There is also widespread acknowledgment that reducing or eliminating red meat from the diet cuts the risk of heart disease” (WebMd). However, one must eat smart while being vegan. Being vegan doesn’t mean you live off of just the things you enjoy. You need to be aware of what is lacking in your diet and accommodate for it. The most common nutrients that vegan’s must focus on are protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamin B12. The following are how WebMd suggests you can incorporate these nutrients into your diet.
- Protein: Is found in tofu, tempeh, veggie burgers, beans, and nuts.
- Iron: Fortified breakfast cereals, soy-based foods, dried prunes and apricots, nuts beans, legumes, whole-wheat bread, and baked potatoes are rich in iron.
- Calcium: sesame tahini, calcium-fortified orange juice, and dark, leafy vegetables like collard greens and bok choy.
- Zinc, which boosts the immune system, is ample in soybeans and soymilk, veggie “meats,” fortified breakfast cereals, nuts, breads, mushrooms, and peas. Wheat germ and pumpkin seeds also have high zinc content.
- Vitamin B12: Soy-based beverages, some breakfast cereals, and fortified veggie “meats” are all good sources of vitamin B12.
Now if one does consider going vegan I highly suggest you seek advice from a nutritionist or do a lot of research. The better you understand nutrition and the vegan diet, the more enjoyable it will be for you. But I do encourage all of you to just give it a try. Maybe once a month you do a vegan day or pick one meal a day. By making these small steps you can begin to make smarter choices.
For the following week I will be undergoing a vegan challenge. I am challenging myself to put my research and work where my mouth is. I have done extensive research and plan to go an entire week on a vegan diet. I do not suggest any of you do this. When adapting to a new lifestyle, one should do it slowly. I am doing this as a personal challenge to see if I actually know as much as I think about nutrition and this vegan diet. I want to see how hard, or easy, this diet is. Also see if I see any benefits or hardships. I will keep you all updated.
“What is a vegan diet? What are the benefits of being vegan?” Medical News Today. (2013): Web. 8 Nov. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/149636.php>.
“Vegetarian and Vegan Diets.” WebMD. (2013): n. page. Web. 8 Nov. 2013. <http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/guide/vegetarian-and-vegan-diet>.