29 Sep Going Vegan? Read This First.
By Joni Garcia MS, RD, Contributing Blogger
Following a vegan diet seems to be the newest craze. More and more vegan restaurants have been popping up and celebrities are attributing their healthy body to eating vegan. While I certainly can’t complain about having more veggie options when dining out, there are a few things to keep in mind before taking the vegan plunge.
What is a vegan diet?
Vegan diets eliminate all animal based foods. So while vegetarians forgo meat, poultry, and fish, vegans also eliminate dairy, eggs, and any food made with animal byproducts (like honey and foods containing gelatin or whey). Vegan diets are based on fruits, veggies, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
Pros and Cons
Following a vegan diet can have a variety of health benefits. By eliminating animal foods, you’re likely cutting down on cholesterol and saturated fat and eating more fiber, which can improve heart health.
Vegan diets can also help with weight loss if healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and whole grains make up the bulk of the diet and food is prepared in a healthy way. But just because a food is labeled as vegan doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthy. It’s not hard to find vegan chips, cookies, and cakes. These foods have the same amount of calories as their non-vegan counterparts. And like non-vegan foods, vegan foods can be fried or made with a lot of oil, which can add a hefty dose of unwanted calories.
Also, any time you eliminate an entire food group, there is a chance you’ll miss out on important nutrients. Vegan diets are no different. There are some vitamins and minerals that are only found in animal foods, like vitamin B12. If you choose to follow a vegan diet, a vitamin B12 supplement may be recommended. Other nutrients a vegan may fall short on include vitamin D, calcium, and omega-3 fats. These nutrients will likely need to come from fortified foods and/or supplements. Working with a registered dietitian nutritionist and physician can help those following a vegan diet maintain a well-balanced diet.
Other things to consider
Following a vegan diet is a lot harder than it sounds. Trust me…I tried it once and lasted about 3 days. If you are thinking of going vegan because it’s trendy, get educated first and plan ahead.
TELL ME: Have you ever tried going vegan?