For many years, different schools of thought have emerged trying to modify various of our habits, considered by a part of the world population as harmful to our very existence.

In this context, a movement arises with the intention of modifying our eating habits, beyond its benefits to human health, and it develops to protect animal species, thus giving rise to the vegan diet.

In this article, we describe what the vegan diet consists of, its main characteristics and how it is done.

What is the vegan diet?

The vegan diet is a diet based solely on the consumption of foods from vegetables, completely excluding all foods from animals and their derivatives. (1)

In itself, the vegan diet is not a vegetarian diet , since the latter can include eggs, honey, and dairy products from animals, whether vertebrate or invertebrate. (two)

The consumption of micronutrients and macronutrients, coming only from vegetable foods, suppose to a great extent benefits to human health, however, this must be done progressively, since it requires a process of adaptation of the organism.

Important: Following a diet with these characteristics requires constant advice from people specialized in nutrition.

How is the vegan diet made?

To get into this type of lifestyle, certain guidelines and procedures must be followed to achieve an adaptation of the organism to this new eating habit. Here we describe how to do it:

1. Progressively reduce the consumption of meat and animal products

The carnivorous nature of man is not a simple whim, but there has been a close relationship between the consumption of food of animal origin and the development of the brain, and this comes from prehistoric times. 

It is therefore recommended to gradually reduce the consumption of red meat , after fish, and replace them with other vegetable forms that provide the same nutrients as animal products.

You should know: This reduction in the consumption of meat of animal origin reduces the supply of vitamin B12, an important micronutrient for the body, so other alternatives for its consumption should be considered .

2. Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables

Another of the strategies that must be assumed is the progressive increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables for various reasons, among them, allowing our digestive system to adapt to the vegan way of eating and the increase in the amount of healthy nutrients. (3)

To highlight: The consumption of broccoli , kale, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, among others, are foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds that reduce oxidative damage to healthy cells, a very important benefit for our health. .

3. Include vegetable proteins in the diet

One of the main macronutrients provided by the animal kingdom are proteins of high biological value , essential molecules for many metabolic functions. In this sense, the inclusion of legumes such as soybeans or lentils is recommended to compensate for this deficiency of quality proteins or the consumption of its derivatives such as tofu in vegan diets.

Note: The advice of a nutrition specialist is necessary to guide you on the variety of vegetable options to supply the body with quality proteins. (4)

4. Opt for plant-based drinks

The priority for this line are beverages of vegetable origin, when beverages such as milk and others whose ingredients include additives of animal origin are excluded.

To highlight: Among these alternative options are coconut drinks , almonds, soybeans, rice and oats, for example. These are deficient in nutrients such as calcium and vitamin D, in which case nutritional strategies must be developed and supplemented.

5. Consume nuts and seeds

To replace the energy intake of fats of animal origin such as fish, rich in essential fatty acids, you should resort to the consumption of nuts such as almonds or walnuts and others such as flax seeds, which also provide omega 3 fatty acids . and 6 , considered healthy fats and sources of immediate energy. 

What are the benefits of the vegan diet?

Due to the decrease in the consumption of fats of animal origin and the incorporation of valuable micronutrients in the vegan diet , it leads to many health benefits that we describe below:

1. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular and brain diseases

The decrease in the consumption of saturated fats and the abundant intake of foods rich in minerals and vitamins of this vegan diet, prevents the appearance of cardiovascular and cerebral diseases caused by the increase in cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. (5)

Note: We must also add the presence of foods rich in vitamin C , an important antioxidant that is involved in the prevention of diseases of the circulatory system.

2. Controls blood sugar levels

The high consumption of vegetables provides the body with large amounts of dietary fiber , including soluble fiber , which regulates the absorption of sugar through the intestines , maintaining optimal levels of glucose in the blood.

Likewise, the decrease in the consumption of lipids favors a better secretion of insulin in the blood, also collaborating in the control of blood sugar levels. (6)

3. Improves digestive functions

Another of the benefits of following a vegan diet is that it favors the transit of food through the intestines, helping good digestive health thanks to dietary fiber.

You should know: Foods from vegetables are easier to digest than animal products such as meats, making digestion faster.

4. Eliminates toxins from the body

The foods allowed in the vegan diet include antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that favor the work of the liver , an important organ that is directly involved in purifying the body. 

They also favor kidney function, as they contain water, potassium, calcium and magnesium , essential elements in the process of eliminating toxins in the body.

5. Increases physical energy

This diet provides the body with enough nutrients to increase physical energy, among which are B complex vitamins, vitamins such as A, C and E, minerals such as iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium and the presence of essential fatty acids, which allow both the contribution of fuel and the necessary elements for its metabolization.

6. Helps lose weight

Due to the change in eating style, the vegan diet provides more healthy nutrients from vegetables, less saturated fat and other chemical elements from food from animals, which due to their excessive consumption are harmful to health. 

This change helps to reduce the accumulation of adipose tissue in the body and to progressively eliminate the fat that is already accumulated, favoring the loss of body weight.

Note: A well-planned diet in this type of vegan diet can promote the health of many people due to the variety of healthy foods it includes.

7. Promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails

Another notable feature of this diet is that it greatly favors blood circulation, due to the reduction of fatty plaques in veins and arteries, it also provides nutrients with vasodilator properties.

To highlight: These aspects contribute to the good oxygenation of all the cells of the organism, including their nutrition, allowing on the one hand the health and good development of hair and nails, and on the other to the preservation of the good condition of the skin.

8. Prevents some types of cancer

The contribution of a large amount of antioxidant compounds in this diet prevents oxidative damage caused by free radicals to healthy cells, preventing the appearance and proliferation of some malignant cells that can cause cancer. 

Important: Studies show the protective potential of the consumption of fruits and vegetables in the prevention of some types of cancer. (7)

What are the risks of the vegan diet?

One of the main concerns of this diet is the low contribution of certain nutrients that are found in abundance and of high quality in foods of animal origin. 

For example, most foods rich in calcium come from dairy products, vitamin B12 and minerals such as iron that promote the production of red blood cells come mainly from meat.

You should know: A good planning of this diet is very important , which guarantees the body the necessary nutrients for its proper functioning and thus avoids the appearance of diseases due to a lack of vitamins or minerals, for which the intake of nutritional supplements is recommended. (8)

Key Findings

  • The vegan diet is characterized by the restricted consumption of foods of animal origin and their derivatives.
  • The vegan diet is not a vegetarian diet.
  • This dietary regime favors circulatory, cardiovascular and digestive health mainly.
  • Well-planned strategies must be created so that the deficiency of some nutrients in this diet does not affect human health.
  • You must ensure the advice of a nutrition specialist, for the progressive disincorporation of foods of animal origin and the equally progressive inclusion of foods from the plant kingdom.

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