Today we will talk about healthy vegan diet.What is a healthy vegan diet?We say, ‘Health is wealth’, but the question to be answered is; Is Health really equivalent to wealth?’ I know you might be wondering what we are trying to drive at with this quote. Well, journey with us as we discuss a healthy diet vegan.
Over the years, many philosophers have explained and given several meaning to what they understand by the saying ‘Health is wealth’, but to help us understand our perspective, we will quote Anne Wilson Schaef, who said, ‘Good health is not something we can buy. However, it can be an extremely valuable saving account’. This saying by Anne justifies that living and keeping a healthy lifestyle is indeed wealth.
As we all know, Vegan diet has been a controversy for quite a while as several individuals have their school of thought as regards its consumption. Vegan diet is one that is high in fiber, and it excludes all form of animal products.
This form of diet is more restrictive compared to a vegetarian diet (includes dairy products). It has its own beneficial contributions to the body system and Springman said, ‘A balanced vegan diet is one of the healthiest diets because it is higher in fruits, vegetables and legumes and the health benefits from this compensate anything else’.
What Is A Healthy Vegan Diet?
There are various types of vegan diet, and it includes:
- Whole-food vegan diet: Based on the whole plant such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
- 80/10/10 diet: It is a raw food vegan diet that limits fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados and relies on raw fruits and soft greens. Also called low-fat or fruitarian diet. 80% carbohydrate, 10% fat and 10% protein.
- Raw-food vegan diet: Based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds or plant foods cooked at a temperature below 48°C
- Starch solution: Low-fat, high carb diet. Similar to the 80/10/10 diet.
- Raw till 4 vegan diets: consumption of raw food till 4 pm, then a cooked plant-based meal for dinner
- Thrive vegan diet: Consumption of plant-based, whole food that are raw or minimally cooked at low temperature.
- Junk food vegan diet: Lacks in whole plant food and relies on mock meats, cheeses, fries, vegan desserts and other processed vegan foods.
According to NHS, the following are healthy tips needed in the consumption of a healthy vegan diet (eating well):
- Eat at least 5 portions of different fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates
- Have dairy alternatives such as yoghurts, soya drinks
- Eat some beans, pulses, and other proteins
- Choose and eat unsaturated oils and spreads in small quantity
- Drink plenty of fluids
These guidelines given above help one plan a healthy and balanced vegan diet. Some vegan diet recipes are tempeh, seitan, algae (spirulina and chlorella), jackfruit, tofu, lentils, mushrooms, eggplant, potatoes, beans and legumes, cauliflower, sesame seed, tahini, pulses, broccoli, dried fruits (prunes, apricots and figs), flaxseed, rapeseed oil, unsweetened soya, beets, nuts, peanut butter and other nut butter.
According to Feller, ‘All individual can benefit from the health effects of increasing the proportion of plants on their plates’ but in a research carried out by Elizabeth Mahase in 2019 published in the medical journal shows that plant-based diet could come with a previously unrecognized health risk. So, to further understand this form of diet, we are going to discuss the benefits and problems associated with a plant-based diet.
Benefits of healthy vegan diet include:
- Healthy heart: reduced risk of heart disease,
- Lowering of blood pressure,
- Decreases the risk of stroke,
- Improve cholesterol levels because they are invariably low in saturated fat,
- Keeps the brain strong,
- Weight loss: Lower body mass index and a reduced risk of obesity,
- Lower the risk of cancer: Vegan diet consumption help lower the risk of cancer because it contains fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals (biologically active compounds that protect against cancer),
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes,
- Reduce food cost: It’s a plant-based diet and they can be grown in one’s environment and also gotten at the stores or market at a cheap and relatively pocket-friendly price.
- Reduces the symptoms of arthritis such as pain, joint swelling and morning stiffness.
- Provision of valuable nutrients: Vegan diet is rich in dietary fibres and micronutrients such as secondary plant substances and antioxidants as well as vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, folic acid and potassium.
Problems of healthy vegan diet
- Deficient in some vitamins and minerals which are essential to the body. This vitamins and minerals include; Vitamin B12, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and Protein. It should be noted that this deficit in nutrients comes to play when the individual sticks strictly to no animal product or by-product consumption.
- Inability to plan well and prepare the food appropriately.
- Deficiency of Choline in a plant-based diet.
- Might not be suitable, practical or sustainable by everyone
It’s no news that vegan diet is deficient in some necessary nutrient, to help avoid having these nutrient deficiencies, one’s meal should be carefully planned and also one should have a doctor or dietician to relate with before adopting the diet. The dietician or doctor will prescribe certain supplement or advice one to consume fortified food (such as unsweetened soya, rice, and oat drinks, fat spreads, breakfast cereals) in order to get the needed nutrients.
For Vitamin B12, supplements can be taken to get it but one must ensure that a dietician calculates the necessary supplement intake needed by such individual. Also, this form of vitamin can be gotten from fortified foods which include cereals, yeast extracts and non-dairy milk.
For Calcium, an adult requires about 700mg per day to help with the development of bone health. To supplement for this deficit, such individual should consider consuming fortified plant-based alternatives like red kidney beans, almonds, leafy green vegetables, sesame seeds, tofu and nuts to reduce the risk of bone fractures.
For Iron, absorption of iron from the consumption of plant sources such as green leafy veggies, nuts, whole grains, seeds and pulses are far less efficient when compared with the consumption of animal products such as eggs and meats. But in order to make up for this lag in iron absorption, one has to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin c to aid iron absorption and they include; strawberries, citrus fruits, peppers and green leafy veggies.
According to The Association of UK Dietician resource library, Phytates found in plants foods such as whole grains and beans reduces zinc absorption. So, to get adequate zinc nutrient, one has to consume the following; fermented soya such as tempeh and miso, nuts, fortified cereals, soaked dried beans (rinse before cooking to increase zinc consumption).
In life, several choices are placed before us and decisions are required of us. So, as regards having a healthy lifestyle and being fit, make the necessary decision as regards your diet today.
* You can download a free copy of the eBook on “Ketogenic Diet 101”