Social Media, Celebrities, Restaurants, everywhere I look more and more people are experimenting with vegan foods.
FYI: Vegan foods are those that don’t come from an animal and are plant-based, they are considered a more natural source of nutrition. This doesn’t just include meat, it includes eggs, milk all the other products we get from animals.
No – I’m not a ‘vegan’ myself, however i’m always up for trying something new.
That’s why when I went out for lunch I thought i’d seek out one of the vegan options. I had a noodle broth filled with mushrooms, peas, carrots, chili, coriander and tofu.
I know what you’re thinking, what the heck is tofu? A curd made from mashed soybeans (it tastes better than it sounds I promise).
Verdict: pleasantly surprised.
But is it really healthy to go vegan?
The NHS argue that you should be able to get most of the healthy nutrients the body needs from eating a varied and balanced vegan diet. In order to achieve this, they suggest;
- Eating a minimum of 5 portions of fruit and veg a day (something we all should do).
- Base meals on carbohydrates and choosing wholegrain options where possible for example rice, pasta, potatoes.
- Choosing low-fat and low-sugar dairy alternatives including soya based milk and yogurts.
- Ensure you are still getting healthy proteins, these can be sourced from some beans and pulses.
- Eating small amounts of unsaturated oils and spreads.
- Drinking plenty of fluids – ideally the recommended 6-8 glasses of water recommended by health experts.
Health advantages of plant-based diets can include maintaining a healthy BMI, a ‘leaner’ body composition, lowering the risk of cancers and living a longer healthier lifestyle.
Although plant-based diets are packed with these health advantages, they do pose a risk of nutritional deficiency.
The health risks:
This helps to regulate the nervous system and blood formations.
Vitamin B-12 cannot be found in any plant and without this, research has found that people are at more risk of depression, dementia, poor memory, soreness of mouth and tongue and problems with balance.
However, good news for those with plant-based diets. Vitamin B-12 can be found in most multivitamins, the ideal supplement to ensure you don’t obtain a deficiency.
Rich in EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahezaenoic acid), this is mainly found from fish. This is important in diets to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Research has found that EPA & DHA thin in blood and reduce the risk of high blood pressure. A popular vegan alternative would be to take algae oil supplements to ensure the appropriate omega-3 gains are within your diet.
Other sources of omega-3 can be found within flax, chia, hemp seeds, spinach, kale, cabbage & soy beans.
This is essential for muscle growth, keeping energy levels high and the immune system strong. Protein is most easily absorbed through meat, poultry and fish making it more difficult for vegans to get this source within their diets.
Although, quinoa is considered to be the perfect alternative, packed with amino acids as well as 18 grams of protein per cup.
So there it is, like many things in life there are pros and cons. This is no different with going vegan.
If you are vegan I suggest you do your research. Ensure you’re eating all the nutrients you need and don’t forget those supplements!
For those who aren’t, there is a wealth of evidence that is certain that eating more plant-based foods within your diet is good for you.
So if you’re not for the vegan lifestyle full-time, why not try and incorporate some more of the meals in your diet to feel the benefits?
I know I will be!