Thinking About Following a Vegan Diet?
A huge concern for many when considering a plant-based diet is whether it is balanced and nutritionally sound. The good news is YES!
In the UK we consume more meat than is good for us with the majority of people believing that a meal has to be made up of some type of meat accompanied by a small amount of vegetables when in fact it should be the other way around.
To get technical, a vegan doesn't consume any animal products including meat, eggs, milk, dairy, and honey. For some vegans, the primary reason for leading a vegan lifestyle is related to ethics and animal welfare. A plant based diet can do wonders for your health and waistline, however not every vegan diet is healthy; chips and many fizzy drinks or biscuits are vegan but not healthy. As with any diet, basing your meals around processed foods low in nutritional value cannot result in a healthy body and mind. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and pulses are the staples of a vegan diet. These are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals and provide an abundance of nutrients for your body.
The main focus of a vegan diet is usually set on avoiding animal products, but the priority is not placed on unprocessed plant-based whole foods, so it's important to be mindful and considerate of the foods that you're eating. Make sure that you are consuming a colourful and diversified diet in order to optimize your nutrition.
If you are concerned about protein and where you will get it in a plant based diet it is really quite simple and achievable. Beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are all plant-based sources of protein that are also filled with vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Spinach, peas, and squash contain 5 to 8 grams of protein per cup, and leafy greens like spinach and kale are also great sources of iron.
Protein needs vary from person to person depending on your age, health status, and amount of physical activity. A plant-based lifestyle can help to promote weight loss and help to maintain your goal weight. Weight loss commonly occurs because the diet consists of foods that are full of fibre and have a high water content, which promotes the feeling of fullness so you tend to control your calorie intake better.
If you do decide to adopt a vegan diet it is important to pay particular attention to vitamin B12 which is a water soluble vitamin found mainly in animal sources and is also known as cobalamin, it is vital for the formation of red blood cells, as well as healthy nerve function and DNA synthesis. It plays an important role in energy release, which may explain why those deficient in B12 feel tired and lacking energy. You will find plant milks, yogurts, breakfast cereals and yeast extracts are fortified with B12 so as long as you include a source daily you’ll meet your requirements. Alternatively supplementation is a good way to make sure you aren’t missing out on this vital nutrient.
If the thought of going completely vegan is just too daunting for you why not start with one or two days each week that way you can ease yourself into it. Another benefit of going plant based is that it is typically cheaper than a conventional diet so you are helping save the planet and save money too, who wouldn’t be happy with that.
If you are struggling to eat a balanced diet the team at Jane Plan offer dedicated phone or email support with a nutritionist, so we can help and guide you through your weight loss journey.