Veganism is on the rise, and it’s no longer just esoteric hippies enjoying the benefits of an entirely animal-product-free diet.
Many have chosen to go vegan because of the health benefits, and others for moral reasons pertaining to animal rights and climate change.
It also has a strong celebrity backing, with Natalie Portman, Zac Efron, Ariana Grande, Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Alicia Silverstone and James Cameron all getting on board with the trend.
If you’re considering taking the plunge, but you’re still on the fence, nothing settles the mind more than a ‘pros and cons’ list.
So here it is, via CNN – the pros and cons of going vegan, so that you can make better life choices for yourself and the planet.
Obviously, this is a succinct list, so not every base is covered.
Veganism is mostly mainstream now
Vegan diets have become increasingly mainstream over the years, which means that restaurants and grocery stores are now stocking more vegan options.
There’s also a massive market for plant-based alternatives like the Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. This means that there could be more plant-based protein alternatives heading your way in the future, making the dietary restrictions easier to manage.
The health benefits of veganism
Studies have found that, similar to vegetarian diets, vegan diets lower the risk of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
Vegans tend to have the lowest impact on the environment, which in this day and age, is a big plus.
All of that sounds good, but knowledge is power, and there are some not so lekker things that you need to take into consideration before changing your diet.
Veganism is more than just a plant-based diet
It’s devoid of any and all animal products, including dairy, cheese, yoghurt, milk and butter. Eggs are also off the menu, too, unless you’re a ‘veggan’.
‘Plant-based’ is actually an umbrella term for a range of diets and doesn’t equate to being vegan. You’ll need to do your research to find out what you can and can’t eat.
You’ll need to get creative with cooking
If the only dishes you’re good at preparing involve meat, that’s not going to cut it.
Going vegan means learning a whole new way of cooking that can be a challenge for even the most accomplished home chef. You’ll have to research alternatives to the staple foods that we use in most dishes, like butter and eggs, and sourcing ingredients like cashew cheese and flaxseed meal can be difficult.
Not all restaurants offer vegan options
As mentioned earlier, veganism has become more mainstream, but you might still struggle to find places that cater to your dietary needs. If you find yourself out with friends and there are no vegan options on the menu, you’ll have to learn how to transform something non-vegan into something vegan.
You can do this by, for example, ordering a veggie burrito and substituting the sour cream with guacamole.
Then again, asking for changes and substitutions often makes the chef seethe, so good luck on that front.
Meeting all of your nutrient needs might prove challenging
It takes a fair amount of planning to ensure that you’re meeting all of your dietary needs.
Amy Kimberlain, a registered dietitian, weighs in on what you’ll need to do:
Because the digestibility of protein is decreased on a vegan diet, plant protein needs are slightly higher for vegans than for those eating animal foods…
That’s why it’s crucial to include a protein source at every meal — such as tofu, beans, tempeh, nuts and seeds — even at breakfast.
Calcium is another nutrient of concern for vegans diets. Even though it can be consumed from plant calcium sources such as tofu, almonds, kale and broccoli, you need to ensure that you’re incorporating enough calcium-rich foods into your diet. Other nutrients to keep an eye out for in your food are vitamin B-12 and vitamin D.
It’s a good idea to go for a blood test every now and then to ensure adequate blood levels of vitamins and minerals so that you can keep track of what your body needs.
Lastly, If you’re just starting out, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to jump straight into things.
Now, go forth, and prosper.
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