Contributed By Jessica Robert
Many people are consciously turning towards vegetarianism or veganism for health reasons. It is commonly believed that a vegan diet will help to extend your longevity because it keeps you healthier and fitter. Whatever your reasons for becoming a vegan, it is important that you know exactly what a vegetarian diet entails and what precautions you need to take in order to supplement the nutritional deficiencies that may arise from such a diet. Research has proved that most illnesses and cancers are predominantly caused by diet and when you follow a vegan diet; you can actually reduce risks of chronic degenerative illnesses like obesity, high blood pressure, different forms of cancers, coronary heart diseases, diabetes etc.
What to know before becoming a vegan:
Protein intake: A diet rich in proteins is absolutely essential because these are needed for cell growth and repair. Your daily diet will lack animal proteins when you choose to become a vegan. So, you need to ensure that you eat substantial amount of plant-based proteins like whole grains, lentils, beans, soy and quinoa, seeds and nuts, legumes, leafy green veggies, fresh fruits etc.
Vitamin B12: Since Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal proteins, a vegan diet is likely to be deficient in this essential nutrient. You may therefore need to take Vitamin B12 supplements because this vitamin is responsible for keeping your blood and nerve cells healthy. Without this vitamin, you are likely to suffer from fatigue and constipation, appetite loss and nerve problems.
Iron supplements: You may also need to take iron supplements when you have chosen to become a vegetarian. Iron is found in two forms called heme and non-heme. The former is found in animal foods that get absorbed by the human body easily. However the non-heme that is found in plant foods does not get absorbed as easily. Good vegetarian iron sources are sunflower seeds, dark green leafy veggies, legumes and dried raisins. All foods rich in vitamin C like citrus, broccoli and red peppers help to absorb iron.
Avoid junk: Animal products should not be replaced with junk foods when you have chosen to become a vegan. You should not try to replace meat with packaged foods or white pasta and bread. Processed foods will offer hardly any nutritional value besides empty calories.
Control soy product intake: Just because soy is a great vegan protein source, you must not take in excess amounts of it. Incidentally, there are many studies that prove that taking in a lot of soy products is perhaps even worse than eating high-protein animal products. The healthiest soy sources are tempeh, tofu, miso, soy milk etc.
Food labels: When you want to take up a vegan diet, you must be careful to read food labels. Simply because you think that a food is glaringly non-vegetarian does not make it necessarily suitable for a vegetarian.
Make the change slowly: Turning into a vegetarian overnight is not recommended. You should make this transition slowly by adding some additional plant based foods in your daily diet. This should be followed by reducing your intake of animal proteins and doing away with refined and processed foods.
The key to becoming a vegan is to make the changes in your diet slowly. This allows the body to adapt to the changes better. Moreover, if you are considering vegan diet mainly for weight loss, you can use the services of recognized meal delivery companies that include vegetarian diet plan. For instance, Nutrisystem, which is an accredited meal delivery service, offers a vegetarian diet plan for those who seek weight loss through consuming only vegetarian foods. They also encourage having a lot of fruits and vegetables additionally to make your diet nutritionally balanced. Nowadays, with the vegan diet becoming popular, you can also enjoy a variety of exciting menus in every restaurant.
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