Why You May Want to Be a Part-Time Vegan5 years ago | Nutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
Forty-four days before performing at Coachella this past April, Beyonce announced to her more than 100 million Instagram followers that she would be eating vegan to get in ultimate shape for the big show.
And if you watched her performance, it definitely appears that going vegan does a body good!
A vegan diet is a plant-based diet, completely void of animal foods like meat, seafood, eggs and diary. Vegans eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Eating vegan eliminates many processed foods in the American diet, like donuts and baked goods, which may contain butter, milk and eggs.
Furthermore, going vegan requires that you avoid foods containing animal-derived ingredients or additives, like gelatin, which is found in many candy products, Jell-O, marshmallows and other not-so-good-for-you foods.
So you can probably see why going vegan may help you lose weight.
This diet really encourages you to eat whole foods and be mindful of what you are putting into your body. Although meat and dairy contain nutrients we need, like iron, protein and calcium, these foods also contain saturated fat. You may recall that saturated fat may raise your total serum cholesterol.
According to one source, Americans will eat more meat in 2018 than ever before. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the average American consumer will eat about 222 pounds of red meat and poultry this year!
So should you go vegan?
If you are not already vegan, making the transition will be challenging and require a lot of hard work. You may even feel a bit deprived sometimes. But you may not have to dedicate your whole life to veganism in order to reap some of the benefits, such as weight loss.
According to recent research, just three weeks of eating vegan may be a great way to jumpstart your weight loss.
A report on this research discusses a small trial conducted in South Carolina, which revealed that people who stuck to a vegan diet lost about twice the weight of non-vegetarians and even those who followed a more varied vegetarian diet.
(Some vegetarians eat some animal foods, like cheese and butter).
“People on a vegan diet often have a lower body mass index, eat the least amount of fat and the most amount of fiber, and get more macronutrients than those on other diets,” according to the report.
Macronutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fats and water. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. All together, these are the six essential nutrients we need to live and be physically and mentally fit.
We need macronutrients (necessary in larger quantities) and micronutrients (necessary in smaller quantities). Both are equally important.
The study suggests that a three-week vegan trial may be just what you need to jumpstart your weight loss. Furthermore, doing this may be a great way to transition to a less meat-focused diet afterward.
The report also highlights less restrictive ways of eating vegetarian if going vegan is too restrictive for you.
For example, you can follow a pesco-vegetarian diet (fish and seafood allowed, but no meat or poultry).
Other tips if you want to give going vegan a go?
- Identify vegan restaurants in your neighborhood or close to work.
HappyCow is a great resource for finding vegan restaurants anywhere in the world. Invite your friends and family to visit these restaurants with you. Some of the biggest meat-eaters are often surprised to find that they actually really enjoy plant-based meals.
- Consult your doctor or a competent healthcare professional.
A vegan diet incorporates a lot of healthy foods, but it also eliminates a lot of foods. When making such a drastic change to your diet, you want to get medical advice (especially if you already have any existing health issues, are pregnant or breastfeeding). You also have to be proactive about avoiding nutritional deficiencies. For example, it may take extra effort to meet your protein and calcium needs.
Vegan sources of protein include peas, black beans and quinoa, and there are vegan sources of calcium including broccoli, hemp milk, fortified orange juice and figs.
Vitamin B12, which is mostly found in animal foods is another nutrient vegans need to be proactive about making sure they get an adequate amount off. A great source of B12 for vegans is nori. You may also have to consider supplementation. Get advice from your doctor or nutritionist.
I highly recommend taking a nutrient test before going vegan as well as a couple of months or so after becoming vegan, in order to determine and resolve any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances you may have. You can work with a healthcare professional if necessary to adjust your diet and/or take quality supplements.
- Make it fun.
Going vegan can be tough at first, so make it an enjoyable, communal effort. Do a vegan challenge with your friends, where you can exchange recipes and tips. Host a vegan dinner party or potluck. Involve your kids by getting them to help you meal prep.
You can find tons of cool, vegan recipes online like this one for crispy potatoes with vegan nacho sauce. If you really want to make things simple, try avocado toast for a quick breakfast or snack.
All you need are:
- Bread (make sure it’s vegan)
- Salt and pepper
What’s so great about avocado toast is you can add kale and other veggies or spices like cayenne if you want to mix it up.
Finally, if you are trying to lose weight there are certain nutrients that may aid in weight loss. And if you are trying to lose weight, you are probably exercising regularly. Be aware you need to fuel your body properly to get the most out of your workouts, recover after exercise and lose weight.
Enjoy your healthy life!
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