Veggie Delight at SalaThai in Downtown Vancouver, BC

Going Vegan? Here’s What You Should Know

Going Vegan? If you’re a new vegan, or interested in becoming one, you may be wondering where to start, or what should you eat, what are health benefits and side effects? Here below you can read all you should know about being a vegan.

What do vegans eat?

A vegan diet includes just about everything ( besides meat, of course!) you can imagine : beans, legumes like lentils, grains like rice, wheat and quinoa, baked goods and breads such as cookies, cakes, croissants and bagels, all veggies, squash (including pumpkin and butternut squash), fruits, nuts and sea vegetables such as seaweed, soy food products like edamame and tofu, meat substitutes such as veggie burgers and seitan, all oils, herbs and spices, most seasonings like soy sauce.

Focus on vitamins B and D

Vegans need to make sure they are consuming enough calcium, zinc, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B12; nutrients that are more commonly found in animal products. It is possible to meet your needs of these nutrients with food, but supplements might be in order. For instance, we can find B12 only in nutritional yeast and B12-fortified food and vitamin D is only present in mushrooms.

Balance your diet properly

What many people don’t know is how to balance their vegan diet properly, because they often forget adequate plant sources of protein and eat way too many carbs. Quinoa has a surprising 8 grams of protein per cup, but it’s still way higher in carbohydrates (40 grams). So it’s not enough to consume loads of quinoa with edamame or a plate of pasta with some vegetables. Combinations of nuts, seeds, pulses, and whole grains, provide a good balance of macro and micro nutrients. And remember that vegan diet includes avocados and fruit, too, not just veggies.

Get enough protein

If you are veg-curious but afraid to stop eating meat because you’re not sure you’ll meet all your protein needs, fear not! Most vegans actually exceed their daily protein needs, because all plant foods, including fruits and veggies, have some protein in them. Beans, lentils, and peas are known as pulses and are rich in protein, and pea protein powder is a vegan-friendly option for smoothies. The recommended daily amount of protein is about 0.36 g for every pound of your weight.

Health benefits

When you start avoiding animal products you’ll find that it’s easier to stay slim as you’re not eating high amounts of saturated fats from dairy and meat products. Vegans usually have lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower body mass indexes, lower risk of death from heart disease, lower rates of Type 2 diabetes, and lower overall cancer rates. Since fruits and veggies are high in super nutrients and many have anti-oxidant benefits, they can boost the immune system and help the body fight against many diseases.

Side effects

Vegan diets tend to be low in high-quality protein. The vegan diet is mostly based on cabbage family, beans, lentils, and nuts. Their proteins are about 15 times lower in quality than the highest quality protein. Poor protein supply contributes to the harm done by toxins because the liver’s ability to detoxify them depends on good nutrition, especially good protein. Blacklisting some food groups interferes with our body’s communication system causing us not listen to our body’s signs. Any sign from our body is a good starting point because we have biological mechanisms for correcting specific nutritional deficiencies.