DRAPABLE DIETS (Part 4): The Vegan Diet
“Vegan” is a trendy way to say “vegetarian.” Low-carb, high protein diets have become the gold standard of many weight-loss approaches (e.g. the Atkins and Paleo diets). A vegan diet focuses on plant-based foods and beverages and eliminates all animal products. Its anchoring aim is to eliminate the use and harm of living beings. Vegans remove any and all animal byproducts, or foods that involve animals in their processing mechanisms. Meat, poultry, fish, and dairy are taken off the plate and replaced with veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, and grains.
We should also note that a vegan diet is not automatically a low-carb or low-fat diet. It’s about cutting the meat here, not the macros. But before you jump on the no-meat-eggs-or-dairy bandwagon, you should know what you’re getting into. Iron, zinc, calcium and other essential nutrients are lacking in a vegetable-only diet.
- You’ll have to find new protein sources. The best sources of vegan protein include natural soy, lentils, beans, quinoa, and seitan. But take it easy on soy-based products as consuming too much soy-based vegan ‘meat’ is arguably worse than consuming high-quality animal products
- You’ll have to stock up on a variety of B12-fortified foods as well as on B12 supplement, as Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods. B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, so deficiencies can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss (the bad kind), nerve problems, and depression.
- And you’ll maybe need an iron supplement, too. Iron comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme, which makes up about 40% of the iron in animal foods, is easily absorbed by the body. Vegan diets contain only non-heme, which is less readily absorbed, so you may need to ingest more iron if you want to get the same benefit.
Going vegan could help shed pounds and fend off chronic diseases. Research shows vegans tend to eat fewer calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index (a measure of body fat) than their meat-eating counterparts.
If you’re doing it right – i.e., eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains – you’ll likely feel full on fewer calories than you’re allowed each day. With that “calorie deficit” and a little physical activity, you’re bound to shed pounds.
How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you. Veganism only has rules on what you can and cannot eat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise. No matter the diet, the more you move, the quicker you’ll see the pounds come off – and you’ll reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart problems, and other chronic diseases.