The vegan diet continues to cause controversy: we offer a description of the diet, contraindications and possible health consequences of veganism. There are many variations of vegetarianism around the world, but veganism is the most restrictive way of eating, fitting seamlessly into a unique lifestyle.
Vegans basically exclude all animal-related foods, including fish and seafood. Additionally, the vegan diet involves a ban on gelatin, eggs, and dairy products. Many supporters go further by refusing to buy clothing, shoes and other animal products. As for entertainment, such as online baccarat for real moneythe ban does not apply.
In most cases, the motivation for changing the diet is ethical. Yet plant-based menus are actively used for medical purposes – for rapid weight loss and the prevention of chronic diseases.
What is veganism: diet and lifestyle
As an offshoot of the old vegetarian diet, veganism did not officially emerge until November 1944. However, the movement later gained popularity at the suggestion of British carpenter Donald Watson, who defended society against food “contaminated” (at the time, a percentage of cows in England were infected with tuberculosis).
Veganism is chosen for various reasons. For many, it’s not just a diet but a holistic philosophy: leaving a smaller ecological footprint and not hurting our little brothers. Additionally, a vegan diet can be healthy, especially for someone prone to cardiovascular disease and obesity.
But it’s not an easy walk. Veganism involves strict restrictions and poor planning leads to vitamin deficiencies and adverse health consequences.
When choosing a vegan lifestyle, you need to consider the possibility of social isolation. The meat-eating community, of which you were a part yesterday, may react differently to your change in values. For example, acquaintances will stop inviting you to dinner to avoid awkward situations.
Advantages and disadvantages of the vegan diet
Of all the popular diets, veganism is probably the most controversial. Its supporters and opponents defend their own convictions with an almost religious fervor.
Is veganism the healthiest way to eat? Is it a dangerous hobby? Or is it something in between? The reality is that there is no one diet, and veganism, like any other diet, has its pros and cons.
Prevention of chronic diseases.
On average, people who don’t eat meat have lower body mass index and cholesterol levels and are less likely to suffer from diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease. Additionally, vegans have a lower risk of prostate and colon cancer.
In addition, plant-based foods modify the intestinal microflora, increasing the population of beneficial microorganisms and suppressing opportunistic flora.
Aid in weight loss
A vegan diet is generally lower in calories and fat than a traditional diet. As a result, vegans often find that they not only lose weight quickly, but easily maintain an ideal weight for long periods of time without excessive physical exertion.
Affordable food every day.
Spending on meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and cheese is an oversized budget item for modern people. However, switching to a plant-based menu, if properly planned, can have a positive impact not only on health but also on the wallet.
The need for supplements
The main disadvantage of a vegan diet is its incompleteness. To avoid nutrient deficiencies, people need to buy vitamin-mineral complexes.
Strict vegans struggle to get enough iron, iodine, calcium, vitamin D, B12, B2, and omega-3s. These valuable nutrients, with the exception of B12, can be obtained from a plant-based diet – if you choose your foods carefully.
Vitamin B12 can only be found in artificially fortified foods or vitamin supplements for vegans. Plant foods do not contain any source of cyanocobalamin.
Junk food is always a problem
Being vegan means eliminating all animal products from your diet, but table salt, sugar, and simple carb overload are still issues.
Like sugar, animal-derived ingredients hide in the most unexpected places, leaving you with limited choices compared to other diets.
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Vegan menus: what you can and cannot eat
A vegan diet may seem extraordinarily monotonous and boring, but in reality most of its supporters are constantly trying new dishes. The only restriction is that they must be plant foods.
Here are some of the foods that can be eaten:
- Vegetables and fruits of all kinds: asparagus, zucchini, lemons, apples, etc.
- Legumes, including soybeans, chickpeas, red lentils and mung beans.
- Oils, types of vinegar and fermented foods in all their forms.
- Condiments and sauces like ketchup and soy sauce.
- Seaweed is a source of iodine.
- Herbs and spices, from dill to barberry.
- Mushrooms of all kinds.
- And anything derived from plants rather than living beings.
With so many foods available, it’s no surprise that many vegans eat a variety of foods. But you can enjoy traditional dishes like cookies, spaghetti, fried potatoes and healthier tasting sandwiches.
List of prohibited foods
What can’t vegans eat? This regime excludes animals and all their products. Vegans cannot eat meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, other dairy products or honey, even if these ingredients contain small amounts.
The ban applies to the following foods:
- Gelatin (made from collagen taken from animal body parts): used in many confections like fruit desserts, marmalade, icing, etc.
- Confectionery Shellac (E904): Derived from worms, this common ingredient is found in chocolate, chewing gum, pastries, and more.
- Natural flavors are made from chicken or dairy products.
The resulting list of prohibited foods is so broad that virtually all processed foods are inaccessible to vegans.
Is it allowed to eat food labeled “may contain traces”?
This is a frequently asked question that is controversial even in vegan circles.
If a food product does not contain milk but is labeled “may contain milk” or traces of other animal products, it is 100% vegan. Let’s explain why.
This label does not mean that the factory adds milk out of spite when the technologist is in a bad mood. Typically, these foods are produced on standard equipment where cross-contamination can occur.
This warning is essential for people with dairy allergies, but not for vegans who refuse to consume and spend money on animal products.
Side effects and contraindications
Being somewhat extreme and restrictive, the vegan diet has side effects due to nutrient deficiencies and an apparent bias towards certain plant foods (especially soy and other legumes).
Typical side effects include:
- Hormonal dysfunctions: the problem results from an excess of phytoestrogens in soy, the main source of protein for vegans.
- Anemia: Disorders of hematopoiesis may develop due to a deficiency of easily absorbable heme (animal) iron or vitamin B12.
- Depression: the risk of depression is associated with an excess of omega-6 acids in the absence of omega-3 acids present mainly in fish.
- Osteoporosis: Reduced bone density is associated with insufficient vitamin D, calcium and protein in the diet.
- Zinc deficiency: Predominance of plant foods containing phytic acid can suppress the body’s ability to absorb zinc.
- Veganism is not for everyone. For some people, avoiding animal-based nutrients altogether can cause irreparable harm.
- Pregnancy and lactation: To provide the growing fetus with all the necessary proteins, vitamins and micronutrients, a pregnant woman must eat a variety of foods, including meat and fish.
- Childhood and adolescence: the period of intensive growth and maturation places increased demands on food, so a child on a vegan diet is prone to anemia, grows slowly, and is prone to severe developmental disabilities mental and physical.
Relative contraindications to veganism are diseases of the gastrointestinal tract with poor absorption of nutrients. Also, people prone to hematopoiesis disorders should not take risks.
But for healthy people over the age of 50 to 55, especially if they’re overweight, switching to a plant-based diet can help with age-related issues. Vegans have an easier time maintaining their body weight and controlling their blood sugar and blood pressure.