A vegan diet eliminates all animal products. This elimination includes meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey along with any other animal-derived substance. Often, vegan and vegetarian diets are considered the same however, they are very different. With a vegetarian diet typically eggs and dairy are not avoided.
Type of Vegan Diet
By many health associations, well-planned vegan diets are considered appropriate for all stages of life. It is a diet that is safe during pregnancy, infancy, childhood, adolescence and even lactation. Vegan diets are usually higher in certain vitamins and minerals including: dietary fibre, magnesium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin E and folic acid. The diet also tends to be lower in saturated fats, cholesterol and calories. Unfortunately, there are also some important vitamins and minerals that are often missed in vegan diets including vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.
There are some popular vegan dishes which include: ratatouille, hummus, rice and beans, veggie stir-fries, veggie burritos and falafel. Some typical vegan ingredients are tempeh, seitan, tofu, plant milk and plant cream. Often in replacement of eggs in recipes, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, tofu, bananas and ground flax seeds will be used. There are also some alternatives to meats and cheeses that are used in vegan dishes. Vegetarian sausage, veggie burgers, tofutti, Chreese and Teese are all types of these food replacements.
Health Factors of Vegan Diets
Vegan diets are considered healthy and have many health benefits associated with them as long as some care is taken when planning meals. Vitamin B12 is often missing from a plant-based diet and usually requires a supplement be consumed. Calcium-rich foods must also be eaten at every meal to ensure the daily requirements of calcium are met – if they are not being met, a supplement should be taken. As vitamin D is hard to consume with a vegan diet, supplements may also need to be consumed unless there is sufficient exposure to light. If all of these daily nutritional requirements are met, the arguments against vegan diets are nullified.
As the popularity of vegan diets grows, so does the scientific research of the health benefits of vegan diets. A plant-based diet has been proven to reduce the risk of a number of diseases. Some of these diseases include diabetes, osteoporosis, dementia, kidney disease, coronary artery disease and cancer. It has also been evidenced that vegans have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and tend to be thinner than non-vegans. Vegans typically have lower body mass index which itself has health benefits associated with it including less risk of type II diabetes and certain cancers.
Costs Associated with a Vegan Diet
A vegan diet is typically less expensive than a non-vegan diet. There are not any membership fees, or other associated costs. One reason that food costs seem higher is because the foods vegans eat cost more. Tofu, soy or almond milk, vegan cheeses and so on all tend to be much higher in cost than their non-vegan counterparts, but the elimination of meat will more than compensate for the added costs.
Another cost factor to consider is vitamin supplements. As calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D are all vitamins that may need to be supplemented in a vegan’s diet, these supplements can add up in cost.