Thoughts on Going Vegan for Weight Loss and Health

by Maria on December 5, 2012

What is vegan?

Simply put, a vegan is someone who abstains from meat, dairy, seafood, eggs, honey and, essentially, anything that may have a remnant of animal in it. The reasons?  Concerns about animal cruelty and/or a desire to lose weight and be healthy.

The idea of a vegan diet is that we should be consuming whole, plant-based foods for the purpose of losing weight and/or treatment and prevention of a variety of diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and the effects of aging.

Vegan-ism has been around for centuries. Nowadays it is becoming especially popular as a result of a few of celebrities embracing the vegan diet.

Former US President Bill Clinton claims he lost 24 pounds by converting to a plant-based diet, hoping to improve his heart health. He has given up dairy and has switched to almond milk, and says he lives primarily on beans and other legumes, vegetables and fruit, although on rare occasions, he will eat fish.

However, there has also been a vegan backlash in recent years, with some former vegans switching back to vegetarianism or full-on meat eating through worries about not getting a balanced diet as a vegan.

Important points to remember in view of being a healthy vegan:

1. Carefully plan your meals to ensure that you don’t miss out on the following vital nutrients that tend to be more plentiful in animal produce than in plants:

  • Iron. It is found in dried fruits, leafy greens, whole grains and pulses. It is better absorbed when combined with vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables.
  • To replace the calcium in dairy products, consume kale, tofu, sesame seeds and fortified plant milks.
  • Whole grains and nuts are a good source of zinc.
  • You can obtain vitamin B12 from fortified foods such as yeast extract or breakfast cereals, however, taking a B12 supplement is strongly recommended.
  • Take vegan omega-3 supplement, extracted from sea vegetables to replace the omega-3 fats found in oily fish.
  • To replace animal protein, the consumption of beans, seeds, nuts, wholegrain bread and pasta is recommended. Protein might protect muscle while you shed pounds. Beans are an ideal food in this regard since they provide both fiber and protein –the dynamic duo for hunger management.

2. As with any diet, it is crucial to add weight lifting exercises to protein consumption to protect your muscles and bones as you age and while you are losing weight on the vegan diet.

Is there such a thing as an overweight vegan?

Generally speaking, vegans are typically lighter than meat-eaters, but that doesn’t mean that gaining weight is impossible. Like any diet, whether you lose or gain weight depends on whether you’re eating more or less than you’re burning off. Vegans can overdo it on bread, sugary snacks, calorie packed fruit and nut bars and even meat substitutes.

Last, but not least – the challenges of going on a vegan diet:

  • Giving up favorite foods is never easy. Dairy products are particularly difficult to replace.
  •  Vegan ingredients, and specialty and convenience foods can be expensive.
  •  Cooking techniques can be overwhelming, unless you have a personal chef.
  • Frustrating, too, is the lack of social support.

My opinion? Research shows that the vegan diet can be beneficial to your health and weight loss efforts. However, as with every diet, and considering the controversies surrounding the vegan diet, you should consult a qualified health practitioner before deciding to go on it!

Let me know what you think, okay?

Good luck!

 

 


 

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