In recent years, diets such as vegan, paleo, raw vegan or macrobiotic diets, to name a few, have not stopped emerging and being on everyone's lips. All of them have well-defined guidelines, some pros and cons. We are going to focus next on the vegan diet, and decipher what it consists of.
Vegans do not consume anything of animal origin, that is, they do not include meat, fish, dairy products, eggs or honey in their diet. Strict vegans also do not use cosmetics that include ingredients derived from animal products or tested on animals, nor do they wear fabrics such as leather, wool, fur or silk.
All of this is usually for ethical reasons related to animal rights, the environment, health and/or spiritual or religious reasons. A determining factor for many vegans is the way animals are raised in factory farms and the intensive use of land by livestock.
Several studies have confirmed that eating a healthy and balanced vegan diet can be beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, preventing colon cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension or obesity.
For a vegan diet to be sustainable in the long term, it is very important to eat in abundance a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, legumes, seaweed, whole grains, seeds and nuts and in certain cases (illness, pregnancy) always consult with a specialist. convenience or not of taking supplements.
A typical vegan diet menu could be:
FOOD : Spinach and avocado salad with brown rice and ORGANIC HEMP seeds / Legume (chickpeas, lentils, beans) cooked with vegetables.
DINNER : stir-fry vegetables with tempeh (fermented soy protein)
Between meals: fruit, nuts, ORGANIC GOJI berries, brown rice cakes with avocado or a smoothie with the superfoods of your choice.
The problem with the vegan diet is when it is done without supervision and knowledge, which can lead to significant nutritional deficits. The most common are:
VITAMIN A : the bioavailable form of vitamin A is only found in foods of animal origin (egg yolk, meat, etc.). What we find in green leafy vegetables, ORGANIC GOJI berries or carrots is the carotenoid beta carotene, which the body must convert into vitamin A to assimilate it. So yes, by eating vegetables you can get vitamin A, but you will need much more foods with beta carotene to equal the amount you get of said vitamin in foods of animal origin.
VITAMIN B12 : it is the most common deficiency among vegans since it is only found in foods of animal origin. Taking supplements of this vitamin is the solution.
VITAMIN D : another vitamin that is only found in foods of animal origin, especially full-fat dairy products, sardines, salmon and egg yolk. You can get vitamin D from sun exposure, but during the winter months we may not meet this requirement.
PROTEIN : you can obtain good quality protein by mixing legumes with whole grains (lentils with rice, for example) or by consuming algae such as ORGANIC SPIRULINA or soy products. However, foods of animal origin contain all the essential amino acids in a very easy to digest form (unlike legumes) and, by consuming little animal protein, we obtain the recommended daily amount without difficulty.
The important thing is to follow a balanced diet, consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables, preferably organic, seeds, nuts, whole grains and good quality animal protein. Avoiding refined sugars, processed foods, alcohol, tobacco and excess caffeine is essential in any diet and the key to starting a healthier lifestyle.
Alicia Lamothe (Health Coach)