There are many reasons that people decide to turn to a vegan diet, from animal welfare to health, environmental to taste preferences. Whatever the reason, here is some more info.
Veganism is defined as abstaining from using animal products, particularly in regards to the diet (although avoiding animal products in relation to clothing, such as leather, is also a factor to consider for vegans). Avoiding things such as; meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dairy, eggs and bee products. There are also many additives and ingredients in other products that have been derived from animals which are also avoided by vegans, such products include gelatin, certain additives and flavourings, many omega-3 enriched products (usually derived from fish) and most Vitamin D3 products.
Veganism can continue into all aspects of your lifestyle. Animal products are also found in all sorts of cosmetics and medicines.
Veganuary is a registered charity that encourages people to try a Vegan diet for the month of January, it was launched in 2014 to “to inspire and support people to try vegan, drive corporate change, and create a global mass movement championing compassionate food choices with the aim of ending animal farming, protecting the planet and improving human health.”
3 surprising food stuffs that are not always vegan friendly
- Wine and beer, some animal products are used in the filtration process prior to bottling
- Sweets/candy, gelatin is one non-vegan product used in sweets such as marshmallows.
- Olive tapenade, a lot of varieties contain anchovies
Have you come across any products that you would assume are vegan but found they’re not? Comment below
Some issues to look out for when following a vegan diet
Getting enough protein
Protein is an essential macronutrient and is used for building muscle. Protein comes in 2 forms, complete and incomplete. Proteins are made up of amino acids, 9 of which cannot be made by the body itself and must be consumed through food. Complete protein sources are those found through animal products; meat, poultry, fish and seafood, eggs and dairy products. Non-animal sources are often missing one or two of these essential amino acids. Eating a variety of food is the way to overcome this issue, especially by combining foods, for example; rice is low in the essential amino acid lysine but it is high in methionine whereas beans are low in the amino acid methionine, but high in the amino acid lysine, eating them together creates the full amino acid profile. Soy is one vegan food that provides a complete source of protein. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19145965
Getting enough Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and the proper development and function of the brain and cells throughout the body. It is usually found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products hence the reason that vegans are at risk of becoming deficient in B12.
Vegans can get their dose of B12 by consuming products fortified with B12 such as rice milk, soy milk, fortified cereals and grains as well as through a dietary supplement.
Always aim to get enough nutrition through your food first and supplement if necessary (If you’re looking for a supplement, I have had good feedback from people that have used these from Nutravita*.
Getting enough iron
Iron is needed to produce haemaglobin in the blood, to carry oxygen around the body. Two forms of iron are available: heme and non-heme. Heme iron found in animal products; meat, poultry, and fish and is the most easily used by your body. Non-heme iron is found in vegetables — your body can still use it, just not as easily.
Consuming vitamin C along side non-haem iron can improve the absorption of non-heme iron. Large amounts of calcium however can inhibit the absorption of non-heme iron.
Getting enough Calcium
Calcium is needed in the body to help with blood clotting and muscle control as well as for healthy bones and teeth. The most commonly known ways of getting enough calcium is through the consumption of dairy products. However, Calcium is also found in many vegan products such as; green leafy vegetables – think broccoli and cabbage, spinach also contains lots of calcium but is not as readily available as in other low-oxalate vegetables, soya beans, tofu, soya drinks with added calcium and nuts (almonds in particular providing 264mg calcium per 100g).
Effects of veganism on fitness
There is no reason for your vegan lifestyle to negatively impact your fitness. There are many examples of extremely successful athletes that follow a vegan diet. The main thought process behind thinking that vegans may suffer in terms of fitness is the inability to get enough protein however by food combining and eating a variety of foods, there shouldn’t be a problem. Supplements are available to help with any deficiency, but please seek professional medical advice if you think you may have a nutrient deficiency. It is always best to get what your body needs through healthy whole foods where possible and supplement where necessary.
Here are some great links for more information on veganism and Veganuary:
Please note, not all vegan diets are necessarily healthy. It is easy to over consume processed vegan products which can undo any positive effects of a healthy vegan diet, perhaps the term “whole food plant-based diet” would be more appropriate when talking about “healthy vegans”.
Whatever your diet, my advice would be to put fruit and veg at the forefront, aim for 10 servings a day.
*Associate link – I make a small commission for purchases made through the link.