Veganism and vegetarianism are on the rise, so what’s the difference?
While vegetarians practice a diet that abstains from meat, or at least red meat, vegans avoid all animal meat and products including foods like eggs and dairy; many avoid honey as well. Apart from ethical or societal reasons, many people opt to go vegan simply for the personal health benefits of such a diet. A vegan diet can:
- Promote weight loss by reducing caloric intake, making any dieting or exercising more effective
- Reduce risks of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels
- Lower chances of certain cancers like colon cancer; some studies indicate it can also reduce chances of prostate or breast cancers
- Manage diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels
- Improve kidney function
- Reduce pain from arthritis
Rightly planned, a vegan diet can increase your intake of certain essential vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, folate, as well as vitamins A, C, and E. However, it is important to realize that these diet changes will mean you need to monitor your levels of other important vitamins and minerals.
Find new ways to incorporate these nutrients:
- Protein: vegan options include foods like soy, chickpeas, lentils and nutritional yeast
- Vitamin B12: since this vitamin is not found in plants, you’ll need to look for fortified rice or find an appropriate supplement
- Essential Fatty Acids: try eating more whole grains and leafy greens. A handful of unsalted nuts can help as well, but watch the high caloric intake.
- Iron: Delicious options like black eyed peas and tofu contain levels of iron; try some dried fruit as well.
- Vitamin D: a good dose of sunshine is just what the doctor ordered! For rainy days, choose fortified orange juice or soy options.
Veganism doesn’t guarantee that you will be in good health; vegans can still be overweight or malnourished. Investing in a meal plan will greatly help; you still need to be mindful about what you put into your body.
Always consult your doctor before making radical dietary changes or taking any supplements.
Whether you’re simply curious about the health benefits of veganism or whether you want to choose veganism for ethical and environmental reasons, Brookside Holistic Solutions is here to promote your overall wellness and to support your health journey. We even offer delicious vegan bakery items, including gluten-free options so be sure to stop by and check out the tasty treats!