Several health benefits come from veganism. According to Jack Norris, dietitian, coauthor of Vegan for Life, and cofounder of the Vegan Outreach organization, vegans have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than people who eat meat. Studies also show that vegans have a slightly lower risk of cancer in their diet. Vegans also have, on average, lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and body fat levels.
While there are numerous benefits, there are also some major nutritional issues that vegans need to be aware of to thrive. Calories, Protein and Fat.
It is important for people trying a vegan diet to include foods with high levels of calories and protein to feel satisfied, such as legumes: beans, peanuts, peas, lentils, soybeans, seitan, and quinoa are the best sources of protein for vegans.
Ensure that you meet your essential omega-3 fatty acids: rapeseed or walnut oil, ground flaxseed, hemp seed oil, walnuts, flaxseed oil, soybeans, tofu, and tempeh are rich in fatty acids. Also, there is no need for additional fats in your diet, but it is okay if you consume a few servings daily.
Vitamins and Minerals
Although vitamin or mineral deficiencies are unlikely to occur in the first few weeks or months of being vegan, some nutrients should be watched over the long term.
Vitamin B12 in vegan diets is a source of controversy and myths. Although it rarely happens quickly, if you don't have a good source of vitamin B12 through fortified foods or supplements, chances are high that, eventually, your health will suffer.
As such, we recommend that your food choices include the following:
- 2 - 3 daily servings of vitamin B12 fortified foods, a daily chewable B12 supplement containing at least 25 micrograms, or a chewable supplement took week containing 1000
- Make sure you consume at least 1000 IU (25 micrograms) of vitamin D daily through supplements or fortified foods unless you are sure you benefit from adequate sun exposure.
- If you don't use iodized salt - about ¼ teaspoon daily - it's a good idea to take an iodine supplement.
- You may want to take a small supplement - 200 to 300 milligrams daily - of a vegan ADH (docosahexaenoic acid) However, there are still no certainties about whether this is important or not.
- Think of the vegan diet as a way to bring more color and flavor to your meals
- When following a vegan diet will have to make substitutions and probably incorporate new foods into your eating routine. For example, replace meat with legumes.
But what is the basis of the vegan diet anyway?
It is very simple. First, eat lots of vegetables, such as lettuce, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, etc. And here, try eating at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.
Then include some cereal, grain, or starch, which can be white or brown rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes, potatoes, oats, couscous, corn, buckwheat, etc. And here, the recommended amount is 2 ½ cups per day.
Since these grains and cereals do not contain a substantial amount of protein, always add some source of vegetable protein - the best choices are always legumes such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, soybeans, and soy derivatives such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk, peanut paste, etc. And here, the recommended amount is, on average, 1 1 ½ - 2 cups of cooked legumes per day.
Don't forget always to add some source of fat, and if possible, prioritize whole grain and natural options, such as sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, almonds, avocados, coconut milk, coconut oil, peanut butter or paste, tahine, etc.
Always remember to eat at least two pieces of fruit daily to keep the body hydrated.
If you still don't know all the benefits of veganism or have never tried it, the best choice is to understand this food practice and have the experience of going to a vegan restaurant.
Have you ever tried a meal prepared by a vegan restaurant in Lisbon? Here you can enjoy the distinctive taste and benefits of vegan food and find some protein-rich foods in a restaurant specializing in vegan food in Chiado.