Adopting a vegan diet has become very trendy for a number of reasons. Some people like it because it’s simply fashionable. However, there’s a lot more to it than that. Motivation to adopt plant-based diets include everything from nutrition to a dislike of the meat production industry as well as reasons involving combating climate change.
Don’t Expect a Vegan Diet to Be Easy Right Away
Pulling off a vegan diet is not an easy thing to do–we will be the first to admit this. Certain aspects of choosing a plant-based eating strategy, including modifying it to pursue your goals to lose weight, should be considered before you commit to such a lifestyle choice.
Get Ready to Learn
First, many people don’t know the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian. Next, it’s important to understand a thing or two about nutrition. After all, meat contains many nutrients that your body needs. If you cut that source of nutrients out of your diet, you will need to make sure you’re replacing them from another source. This is perfectly possible, of course. However, if it hasn’t been a part of your lifestyle until now, it may not come naturally to you right off the bat.
Be prepared to learn about your vegan diet before diving in head-first. This can start with a discussion with your doctor. Your physician can help you to know how to design your meals and snacks to suit your unique physical and mental health needs. You may even find yourself consulting with a nutritionist or dietitian who can help to advise you regarding making the right meal choices and ingredient substitutions for both nutrition and enjoyment – which is a part of food that should not be ignored.
Vegan Diet Versus Vegetarianism
There are many different definitions of veganism and vegetarianism. We’ll be using some of the most commonly accepted versions, though you may find that some people identify as one or the other with some alterations to the rules here and there.
Essentially, a vegan is a vegetarian to the fullest degree. When you are a non-vegan vegetarian, you eat plant-based ingredients but not meat. Sometimes that means that you also won’t eat foods made with meat byproducts, as well. There are many forms of vegetarianism, including:
- Pescatarian – No meat but fish is eaten
- Ovo vegetarian – No meat but eggs are permitted
- Lacto vegetarian – No meat but dairy products are consumed
- Pollotarian – The only form of meat consumed is poultry
- Flexitarian – A personally defined version of vegetarianism in terms of what is and is not included in the diet.
As you can see, vegetarianism has many different degrees and versions, depending on the individual.
When you choose a vegan diet, you go a step further and eat no animal-based products at all. Nothing that is a part of an animal or that is produced by an animal is included. This means that you don’t eat meat, eggs or fish, either, nor do you drink milk or consume gelatin. It may seem an extreme dietary lifestyle, but people who are serious about vegetarianism may at some point consider a vegan diet for any of several other possible reasons.
Some vegans will permit animal by-products when they can detect no harm to the animal producing it. For instance, many vegans will not consume honey, as it is produced by bees. However, others will allow it, as bees are allowed to go about their lives as they usually would and are not believed to be harmed when the honey is collected. Some vegans consider this a diet-only strategy while others will also not wear leather, wool, or use other products from an animal source even if it is not a matter of food. Again, definitions vary depending on the individual.
The vegan life is a choice that may be prompted by a number of different motivations. For some, it stems from their hatred of cruelty to animals. Such vegans may feel strongly that they are paying due reverence to animals by not eating them or, at least, that they are respecting animals properly by refusing to support the ways in which animals are raised or killed for eating. For some, veganism has spiritual implications: eating animal products may be against their religious practices, or avoiding such foods may simply be a way to cleanse themselves for a certain right of passage. Most of the time, here in the West, veganism is adopted for dietary and fitness purposes. A vegan lifestyle is not a bad way to go, in those respects; but there are important things to know before you start to become any kind of vegetarian, let alone a vegan.
For example, your physical health needs a close preliminary look. Your blood glucose, metabolism, hormones and blood gases need to be checked and in good order before you start to deprive the body and its systems of protein and complex carbs that it needs to run those systems–most especially, your electrolytes, which you need to keep your heart beating and your lungs and other organs working right.
Choosing a vegan diet to lose weight does work, and you will lose weight and actually get in shape. However, you can’t just use it as an excuse to lose weight and then go back to your usual eating habits. Once you take meat and other animal protein out of your body, you lose the ability to digest it and could feel sick if such foods are reintroduced. Therefore, make sure you are serious about vegetarianism or veganism before beginning such a diet.