What Do Vegans Eat?

What Do Vegans Eat?

People might confuse veganism for vegetarianism and vice-versa. I have met people who think that both words are synonymous to each other. However, that is not true. Veganism is different from vegetarianism. Yes, both of these are diets that prefer eating vegetables and other plant-produce while avoiding meat, fish and poultry but veganism takes it to the next level.

Vegans do not eat and use other animal derived products such as eggs, dairy milk, fur, and wool just to mention a few. Vegans also avoid cosmetics and other products that have been tested by animals and those that have animal-based components. In a way, vegan is a philosophy or a specific world view about life.

People have their own reasons for becoming a vegan which could be their personal belief to promote a more sustainable planet, health reasons and/or for ethical reasons such as avoiding animal-produce because of how inhumane animals are treated in farms. These people might raise eyebrows and doubts from others because those who are non-vegan might be puzzled at what then do vegans eat?

The answer to the question is “what do vegans eat?” is a simple one. There are several alternatives to animal-products and by-products which are able to provide the necessary nutrients. This article will provide you vegan food sources that are good for fat, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and iron.

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Although people have the preconceived notion that all fat is bad, it isn’t. Fat is an important substance in our body because it allows the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and K, it also promotes good brain functioning, supports good health, protects the body, and allows your body to have energy.

With the increase in processed food, people automatically associate fat as bad but these fats that are not good for the body are called saturated fats, trans-fat and other derivative. However there are fats, called unsaturated fats, which occur naturally. These are found in avocados and coconuts. It is important for vegans to incorporate these in their meals but not all the time since, as the saying goes, “too much of anything is bad.”

soy milk

Vitamin D is probably the most special among the vitamins needed by the body because it is not normally found in food. The best way for the human body to receive the needed amounts of Vitamin D is through a ten to fifteen minute walk under the sun. These numbers wouldn’t be a problem to those who live near the equator which are called tropical countries because the sun is ever present for the most part of the year.

Recent studies have shown that anyone who lives north of Atlanta Ga. in the US are probably not getting enough vitamin D from the sun and might be deficient. Thus drinking vitamin D fortified soy milk and rice milk can augment this. In regions of minimum sunlight, or for someone who is restricted to indoors a good vegan vitamin D supplement is in order.

broccoli

Calcium is important for bone growth as well as making sure that the teeth are strong. In general, calcium is building block of the skeletal system and it also plays important roles in blood clotting, nerve function, muscle contraction and cell signaling. There is a common perception that calcium can only be found in dairy milk and other animal-based products, this is not correct.

Vegans and those who are in plant-based diets also have sources of calcium such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potato, chick peas and many more. Vegans more than enough sources to acquire the necessary calcium needed by the body.

legumes

Another important nutrient in our body is zinc. Zinc is responsible for keeping the body’s immune system up and about. It is involved in the cells’ division and growth, healing of wounds, and breaking down carbohydrates. It is also important for the sense of smell and taste.

It is noted that zinc is not found in large amounts within plants but there are good sources of zinc such as legumes, nuts, seeds, and oatmeal. If an individual has deficiency with zinc, he or she will have problems in overall growth as well as in wound healing and generally, functioning of the immune system.

nuts & seeds

Iron is a very important nutrient because it is important in helping red blood cells transport oxygen to the different cells in the body, as well as nutrients. Whether vegan or non-vegan, there are a lot of sources for iron yet iron deficiency is very common in North America. It is not uncommon for doctors to find both meat eaters and vegans who are deficient in iron in their daily practice.

Among the great sources of iron are legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, vegetables, blackstrap molasses, and prune juice. It is also highly suggested when eating iron-rich meals, vitamin C rich foods should also be a part because it allows better absorption and caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee should be avoided one or two hours before and after meals.

Sources:
http://www.nomeatathlete.com/iron-for-vegetarians/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/249138-what-are-the-functions-of-fat-in-the-diet/
http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/zinc
https://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm#common
http://pcrm.org/health/diets/vsk/vegetarian-starter-kit-calcium

Images: flickr  flickr  flickr  flickr


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