Some pros and cons of avoiding animal products
Veganism is a hot topic. Some people eliminate animal products from their lives for ethical and/or health reasons, but this post will reflect on the food choices made by 3 women with different approaches to their individual diets.
Although certain diets work very well for certain people, not every body responds to food in the same way. There are countless testimonies shared in online forums referring to the numerous benefits of going vegan - to name a few: weight loss, increased energy, and dietary variety. There are many valid moral reasons surrounding the foregoing of animal products, and we love our fellow earth-dwelling creatures, but here we will focus on the nutritional aspects of this lifestyle.
If you're thinking about trying a vegan diet, you should consider making a steady transition - eliminate just one major food at a time (for example: no meat the first week, no fish the next, then eggs, dairy, etc). This way you can really gage your body's reaction to each kind of food source. Common nutrient deficiencies that some vegans experience are...
Protein is used in the process of building/repairing tissue and is essential for generating bone, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood cells. This nutrient is so important! Some vegan options for protein include nut butters, plant-based milks, beans, quinoa, lentils, and veggies such as spinach or edamame.
Iron is used by the body to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. A few signs of iron deficiency may include weakness, sluggishness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. Vegan sources of iron can be found in legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and dark leafy greens.
Vitamins A & D
These vitamins are essential for immune regulation, digestion, fertility and hormone balance. Vitamin A can be found in foods such as squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens, red peppers, tomatoes, and yellow fruits. While vitamin D can be difficult to come by in a strictly vegan diet, it is recommended that someone avoiding animal products altogether take a plant-derived supplement, eat some tofu, and get a little sunshine.
These are just a few pieces that may be missing from your nutrition on a vegan diet. A nutritionist can be a great resource for providing you with information about what elements of your diet may need adjusting once deciding to eat vegan.
Food for thought!
Not all foods considered to be vegan are necessarily healthy or wholesome. For example, many vegan "meat" and "dairy" alternatives are highly processed and packed with preservatives or sodium. This is a good opportunity to make a habit out of reading ingredient labels!
It's of critical importance that you listen to what your body needs! The way you process certain foods can depend on regional heritage, genetics, and possibly even blood type. Whatever choices you make with the foods you ingest should help your body to feel good, and conscious eating habits can make that happen!
The latest updates to my nutrition plan include many vegan meal options - this is a great place to start if you're curious about eliminating animal products from your diet, or if you're already vegan, for discovering more fun food inspiration!
Let's get some insight from from 3 different experiences:
Are you vegan?: No
What does your favorite meal consist of?: Steamed white fish, salmon or tuna is always my go to meal. Add any sort of green vegetable for my fibrous carbs and I am golden. I do love bok choy if I was going to pick one! Add in some complex carbs like brown rice and the meal is complete!
Where does your protein come from?: Most of my protein comes from my healthy smoothies that I share on my nutrition plan and of course I aways have a post recovery shake! When it comes to food I get the majority of my protein from fish.
Why did you choose this current diet?: Growing up in England with my family this was just what was available. There was no such thing as being vegan or vegetarian. I didn't even have sushi until I was 20 and had no idea what kale was! I went through an eating disorder at 17 where I cut most foods out, so who know's I could of been vegan for 6 months! Eating again was a big challenge and my body needed protein to repair itself.
Have you experienced positive results from including/avoiding certain foods?: My body does not digest red meat too well and I very rarely have it. When I am looking to lean out my post recovery shake is key and my meals consist of chicken and broccoli/green beans. This is the leanest meal for my body and works every time when I am looking to drop body fat.
What do you think people should know about this diet?: Every body is different and are looking for different results so you have to find something that works for you. I can only share with you what I do and if you like it then great, let's do it together! One thing to remember is that this way of eating is not a diet, it is something you can sustain forever because it's easy. I can also guarantee that you are getting all your daily vitamins and minerals in. We have to look after our bodies now so that when we are older we are in the best shape possible! My hair has never been to thick, my skin so clear, my body so lean and my energy so high. Something must be working!
Do you think your regimen is cost effective?: One thing for me about sharing a nutrition program with others is making it accessible for people ALL over the world and also food you can get! My healthy shakes and smoothies are $1.30 each, In other countries this in lower depending on the economy. For example in Mexico they are 0.50c each. I don't know where else you can get ALL your daily nutrition for this low price and for it to be available in your country!
My boyfriend is a firefighter and is always cooking for large groups at work. They have a strict budget and a task of ensuring all co workers are fed and full. They all eat meat at his fire station for fuel, its cost effective and they also do not have the time to spend cooking vegan because they are out saving lives!
Are you vegan?: Yes.
What does your favorite meal consist of?: Usually most of my plate is greens - my favorite is stemmed kale with garlic, and I toss it with a little quinoa and a piece of squash or stirfried broccoli and peppers. I will usually top it off with some sort of seed or dollop of hummus and fresh herbs like cilantro.
Where does your protein come from?: My leanest protein source is probably tofu but I also can get it from rice and beans, corn, nuts and seeds. Who doesn't love peanut butter?
Why did you choose this current diet?: I have a hard time digesting food and a vegan diet tends to have a whole bunch of fiber and the protein from plants is easier on my tummy to digest. I was pescatarian for a year before I was vegan and it didn't quite cut it. I think the best part from transitioning pescatarian to vegan was not eating dairy. That stuff is just not made for my body!
Have you experienced positive results from including/avoiding certain foods?: I lost 10 lbs when I became vegan and had tons more energy and just felt generally lighter. I didn't have such a hard time because I was already used to not eating most meats.
What do you think people should know about this diet?: It's definitely something I suggest taking baby steps with. Maybe cut out dairy first, then red meat, and so fourth. It initially feels like a culture shock, especially when you're eating out, so allow your self time to figure out the "art" of being a vegan!
Do you think your regimen is cost effective?: I have a boyfriend who has a similar diet except he eats chicken breasts, fish, and eggs in addition to vegan food, and those items definitely cost a lot more than I could have ever imagined. Being vegan for 5 years, I didn't realize how expensive meat is, especially if you want to try to buy it as ethically as possible! The produce and grains i purchase are just cents per pound! So yes, vegan is cost effective, but time consuming to cook a lot!
Are you vegan?: No.
What does your favorite meal consist of?: Salmon baked with lemon & herbs (topped with greek yogurt), some kind of rice dish, and grilled veggies! Olive oil on everything.
Where does your protein come from?: All over the place - beans, legumes, fish, meat. I try to keep the meat to minimum because I'm not great at cooking it.
Why did you choose this current diet?: I've tried so many kinds of diets. Vegan, vegetarian, raw food, paleo, just to name a few! I was really interested in learning about the importance of gut health and how unique each person's digestive system is. My family has a history of celiac's and now I know that gluten consumption drastically inflames my skin problems, so I avoid that as well as dairy.
Have you experienced positive results from including/avoiding certain foods?: Eliminating gluten has made a serious impact both internally and externally. My digestive tract has never been so well behaved! Eczema is no longer an issue and my cheeks are plump and smooth instead of red and ruddy. Dairy gives me acne flare-ups so if I avoid it then I'm mostly in the clear apart from regular hormonal breakouts. Cruciferous veggies are super important so I try to get those in as much as possible!
What do you think people should know about this diet?: It's really not that hard to avoid gluten these days. A lot of people would consider being gluten-free a "trend" but, hey, if that helps a body out then go for it. It does wonders for alleviating inflammation. And I would suggest that more people look into the processes of commercial wheat production in America! Roundup is not good news for animal or human bodies :(
Do you think your regimen is cost effective?: I'm gonna keep it real here - I prioritize food when it comes to a monthly budget. My diet is definitely cost effective when I eat more vegetables and less meat/fish, but that's because I make sure to buy animal products that are as ethically sourced as I can find and it gets expensive. But sometimes I splurge on some insanely delicious fish because that's what feels nourishing and good to my body. You better believe the life of that fish was greatly appreciated.