20 Jan Debunking the Trend: Vegan Diet
The New Year sparks new resolutions. For some, this may mean diet plans. Instead of getting caught up in rules and restrictions, find out how the latest diet trends stack up. In the next five weeks, I’ll be discussing the most popular diets. This week, here is a look into the Vegan Diet.
What is a Vegan Diet?
Vegan diets eliminate any foods that come from animals. Restricting meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy seems near impossible to most. For some, these restrictions are due to personal and ethical beliefs. Today, however, this diet is becoming increasingly popular for weight loss and healthy lifestyles. Recently, celebrity couple, Jay Z and Beyoncé, adopted a vegan diet to stay healthy, which is part of the reason it has become so popular.
Good or Bad?
The restrictions in a vegan diet limit a good number of foods and leave fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains in the forefront. These foods are rich in fiber, low in fat and are free of cholesterol. Other foods like honey, gelatin, milk chocolate, and some beers and wines are also restricted. These restrictions make vegan diets complicated when trying to fulfill all nutrient requirements, which can lead to deficiencies.
Getting enough proteins from the right foods is important for vegans. Legumes, which consist of beans, peas, or lentils, are a great way for vegans to get protein. When paired with whole grains, vegans can get a high quality protein consisting of all nine essential amino acids.
With any food restrictions, vitamin and mineral deficiencies may follow, and a vegan diet is no different. Vitamin B12 deficiency is a risk factor because it is only found in foods of animal origin (like chicken and fish). Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver for about 6 to 8 years, but a vitamin B12 supplement or shot administered by a physician may be needed. To check vitamin B12 levels, a medical doctor can administer a simple blood test.
Calcium and vitamin D are also a concern due to the lack of dairy in a vegan diet. There are a wide variety of soy products like soy milk or yogurt that are widely available at the market. Some other vegan sources of calcium include: kale, fortified orange juice, soybeans, and almonds.
Should you try it? A vegan diet forces healthy foods onto your plate, but without regulation of missed nutrients this diet could cause deficiencies and unforeseen problems. If going fully vegan is too big of a commitment, incorporating vegan meals full of whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables, and legumes is a great New Year’s resolution.
Sheridan Jonas is a junior at Miami University studying nutrition with a focus in dietetics. She plans on working towards becoming and registered dietitian post-graduation and furthering her passion in nutrition.