A vegan diet plan has tons of incredible benefits – weight loss, more energy, more youth and vitality, and the list can go on.
Be it for ethical reasons or health concerns, there are lots of good reasons to checking veganism.
Your hunt for a vegan diet plan you can follow is the first step to becoming a full-fledged vegan.
Sadly, a lot of people think that veganism simply means rejecting every single source of meat and animal-produced products.
They do not understand that the most appropriate vegan diet plan involves a great deal of planning!
One thing for you to consider ahead of time is how “extreme” of a vegan you want to be.
For example, some prefer to eat lots of fruits, veggies, seeds, etc. and cook their food with steaming, grilling, baking, etc.
Others take it a step further and go for the “have more energy than a Red Bull” nutrition plan and eat all their fruits and veggies without cooking them.
These are called “raw food vegans”, and they eat all their foods as close to their natural state as possible.
This makes sure they get all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, etc. It should be noted that raw foodies use a dehydrator, which is a close as they get to cooking anything.
This article will guide you through what is essential in a vegan diet plan, and suggest you possible foods for a balanced, healthy way to get started.
Vegan and Vegetarian – What’s the Difference?
It is essential, first, to understand what a vegan and a vegetarian is first.
A vegan is a person that strictly consumes only non-animal products.
This excludes even dairy products and eggs in their vegan diet plans.
A vegetarian, however, is an umbrella term for people who allow certain exceptions in their non-meat diet.
For example, a lacto-ovo vegetarian is one who does not consume meat, but allows for animal products, such as cow milk and chicken eggs.
“If you want to read more about the difference check out this post : Vegan vs Vegetarian: What’s the Difference“
This article is a guide for vegans – while it is possible for vegetarians to follow the contents of this guide and the recommended vegan diet plan, there might be other sources of nutrients vegetarians can consider.
For example, a lacto-ovo vegetarian will not face the problem of calcium and vitamin B12 deficiency because they can consume animal milk and eggs, both rich sources of these 2 vitamins.
One of the primary reasons why a vegan nutrition plan gives people such an incredible sense of well being and vitality is because of something called the “acid alkaline balance”.
Basically, eating a lot of greens and veggies helps to make your body more alkaline, which makes it function in a way that it was normally supposed to.
Essential Components of a Vegan Diet Plan
This piece of news will definitely raise your eyebrows if you’re new to veganism:
“Many vegan diet plans do not provide enough nutrients and essential vitamins! In fact, a vegan is more likely to be deficient in various important vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B12, Iron and Vitamin D.”
As such, it is absolutely important for you to understand what must go into a vegan diet plan, you must understand the type of nutrition you need, and how to supplement your body with them through your non-meat diet.
Carbohydrates are the most important constituent of a vegan diet plan – your body runs on mainly carbohydrates!
They are the primary source of energy for your body, no carbohydrates and you’ll find yourself losing weight and muscle mass.
Grains are an important constituent of a vegan diet plan – you will be getting most of your carbohydrates from grains.
Proteins are next up in the level of importance in a vegan diet plan.
Essentially, what are important are actually constituents of proteins – amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of many important molecules in our body – enzymes, muscles and even DNA require amino acids for their formation.
In addition, there are 8 amino acids (known as essential amino acids) that cannot be produced by the body, you must obtain them via external sources (i.e. food!)
Legumes and nuts are good sources of protein – be sure to include them in your vegan diet plan!
Check out these vegan protein sources
3. Dietary Fiber
Dietary fiber is important for proper digestion – and thus must be included into your vegan diet plan.
The dietary fiber cannot be digested by the body (because we lack the necessary enzyme to digest it), but it helps with our bowel movements – without fiber, you’ll be facing long hours in the toilet because of constipation!
Fruits and Vegetables, in addition to other minerals and vitamins, are rich in dietary fiber.
It is possible for a vegan to leave out fats in a vegan diet plan – after all, didn’t ex-meat eaters convert to veganism partly to avoid all the flabs and fats that comes with eating those slabs of meat?
However, it must be noted that a certain level of fatty acid is still needed for the proper functioning of your body, especially to dissolve fat-soluble vitamins.
In addition, cholesterol, for all the bad press it gets, is an essential component of the cell membrane.
Without cholesterol, you will find your body substantially weaker than it should be.
Nuts, again, are a good source of fats.
In a vegan diet plan, it is very possible for a strict vegan to unintentionally leave out a particular vitamin.
This will lead to vitamin deficiency, which will result in various health complications – not something we want out of being a vegan, yes?
Vitamin B12 must be granted special attention, because this vitamin is notoriously scarce in non-animal food sources.
Prolonged vitamin B12 deficiency will lead to anemia, and even permanent nerve damage! As such, it is necessary for you to consume vitamin B12-fortified foods, such as fortified cereal and vitamin B12 supplements.
Lastly, a vegan diet plan will often leave out minerals, such as Iron, Calcium and Magnesium.
Iron absorption poses a big problem for vegans – although many dark leafy vegetables contain high levels of iron, there are factors within plants that blocks absorption of iron into the bloodstream.
Deficiency in iron causes anemia.
However, there are sources of food that contains high levels of iron without those factors that block iron absorption, such as soy bean and black strap molasses.
It is possible for vegans to ingest too little calcium as well, especially because they do not consume dairy products at all.
However, there are many other sources of calcium, such as black strap molasses and tofu.
Vegan Diet Plan Examples
Having understood the essentials of a vegan diet plan, we’ll now move on to our recommendations for the diet plan itself – we’ll suggest you various foods for your breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Vegan diet Meal #1 – Breakfast
Breakfast is one of the most important meals in the day – we recommend you consume enough carbohydrates to keep you running through the day.
- 1 bowl of Fortified Cereal – this low-GI food will supplement you with vitamin B12, while slowly releasing energy for your body throughout the day.
- One bowl of Scrambled Tofu
- 1 bowl of Idlis
- 2-4 pieces of French Toast – this deserves a special mention: vegans can eat French toast without using butter! You can use other replacements for eggs and butter, such as soy milk and bananas; your breakfast is limited by your creativity!
Vegan diet Meal #2 – Lunch
Lunch is the meal that’ll keep you going through the day.
Many make the mistake of eating high GI-food, which will release energy in a short burst.
This leaves you energetic for an hour, before sending you into a sugar crash, causing lethargy and sleepiness.
Ideally, you should consume low-GI foods, while also supplementing your body with proteins.
- 1 bowl of Cereal-Porridge – rice and cereal are a great combination to keep you up through the day
- 1 bowl of Fruit Salad – to supplement you with energy, vitamins and fiber
- 2-4 pieces of Vegan Pancakes – you can replace the egg used to make pancakes with grounded flaxseeds, and soymilk for butter.
- 1 bowl of Mushroom Soup
Vegan diet Meal #3 – Dinner
A vegan’s dinner should be light, yet nutritious – although your body will be starving for another 8 hours as you sleep, understand that your body is using minimal energy during this period (you don’t go for runs while asleep, do you?).
- 1 bowl of Salads – let your creativity create the perfect salad for you! You can include your favorite greens, such as celery and spinaches, cereals or tofu to add variety before topping it up with olive oil for that dash of healthy fats.
- 1 bowl of Brown Rice – brown rice is especially nutritious – a bowl of it will grant you about 10% of your daily intake of iron, and up to 30% of your recommended daily intake of dietary fiber!
- 3 slices of Vegan Pizza – do not confuse this with the recently-legislated “vegetable pizza”! These vegan pizzas can be made using entirely non-animal sources – replace oil with olive oil, use nondairy cheese and top it off with onions and olives.
Why Be a Vegan?
1. Reduced Saturated Fats
It is a known fact that meat and animal products (i.e. dairy products, eggs) harbors staggering amounts of saturated fats.
By abstaining from these sources of unhealthy saturated fats, you’ll avoid many health implications associated with saturated fats, such as cardiovascular diseases.
2. Reduced risk for cardiovascular diseases
Because of lowered intake of “bad” cholesterol and saturated fats, the amount of atheroma – fatty deposits around arteries – is decreased.
This will thus prevent blockage of these arteries, and in turn reducing the risk for various cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and atherosclerosis.
3. Control of Type 2 Diabetes
As a healthy vegan diet plan will contain many low-GI foods, the blood sugar levels of a vegan is less “spiky” – it increases gradually instead of shooting up after every meal.
Meat cost a lot more than vegetables, both to the environment and to your pockets.
Animals consume tons and tons of feed before reaching maturity – those feed could be used as nutrients for farms to grow tons of greens, which will definitely outnumber the amount of animal meat the same amount of feed can produce.
5. Ethical Concerns
With factory farming, it isn’t hard for someone to feel squeamish about eating factory-farmed meat – with the amount of suffering that the animal went through (especially veal meat and factory-farmed egg-laying hens!), how can anyone even support these unethical practices by eating meat?
It is no wonder why so many turn to a vegan diet plan after hearing about these abominable practices in factory farming.
Being a vegan is more than just abstaining from meat, and wolfing down vegetables and fruits.
You must plan your diet, because being a vegan means you’ll have to specially account for certain essential vitamins and minerals lost because of the lack of meat in your diet!
This article’s take on the vegan diet plan will hopefully guide you on your first steps to becoming a vegan.
I highly recommend getting started with a raw food vegan diet, if only for a few days.
You will notice you have more energy and how different your body feels.
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