BlogHer '09 In Real Life I'll freely admit that I have thought of little else besides BlogHer in the past few weeks. Seriously. I think that I last felt like this when I was...
Is a Vegan Diet the Key to Weight Loss and Good Health?
There is a lot of talk nowadays about a vegan diet, and it isn’t uncommon to have least one friend or family member who has sworn off milk and meat. People worry that adopting a vegan diet will not provide them with the right kind of vitamins and minerals. You may be concerned that going vegan may mean giving up favorite foods like cookies, lasagna, or burgers. Many people stay vegan long-term, while others start the diet and drop it later. The popularity of a plant-based diet may arouse curiosity, and it is a topic that interests many people.
Will Becoming Vegan Help Me Lose Weight?
One of the myths about a vegan diet is that it is “rabbit food” or involves eating just vegetables that have almost no fat. The truth is that a plant-based diet contains a healthy amount of the right kind of fat that can promote weight loss. How does fat help you lose weight? Isn’t fat what you want to avoid? The reason many people drop diets not long after starting is that they are too strict, and deprive them of the fats, proteins and nutrients they need as well as flavors. The secret to steady, sustainable weight loss is to replace saturated fats with “good fats,” many of which are plant-based.
Eating nuts instead of chips, tofu instead of burgers, and using almond butter instead of real butter gives your body the fats and proteins it needs to function. Munching on carrot and celery sticks and drinking only water can cause someone to drop pounds dramatically, but that weight will return, because the body will be starved of healthy fats that provide energy. The aim of a diet that incorporates whole foods is not just to lose weight, but also to promote health. It is a slow and steady way to win the health and weight loss race.
What Are the Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet
A plant-based diet focuses on whole foods, or foods that are close as possible to their natural state. When foods are processed, important nutrients and roughage are removed. So often, people think about certain foods as containing specific benefits; people feel they need to drink milk for calcium, eat eggs for protein, and consume carrots for beta carotene. A food, however, contains numerous benefits that are not always measured, such as roughage, and components that need to be consumed together for the greatest benefit. For instance, peels on apples and carrot may provide additional fiber and nutrients. People peel these vegetables to avoid consuming pesticides, but one can eat the peel with organic vegetables that are free of chemicals.
Another reason people are looking to whole, organic and natural foods is that people want to know what is in their food. Pesticides, GMOs, growth hormones, and other chemicals are entering our food, and we may not have a way to track it. More people are shopping at natural supermarkets and stores so they can feel confident that their products are free of pesticides and other harmful ingredients. Even though organic, natural and plant-based products may cost a bit more, they are becoming more popular because of the health benefits they provide.
Is It Hard to Go Vegan?
First of all, not everyone needs to go vegan to enjoy healthy food. Too much animal fat has been linked to health problems, and it may be worthwhile simply to reduce the consumption of meat and dairy rather than cut it out completely. Others use these replacements as a transition toward becoming vegan, which means avoiding eating animal products entirely. It’s never been easier to find alternatives to dairy and meat. Companies like Hampton Creek develop a large number of products that will keep you from missing your favorite foods. Hampton Creek foods Wikipedia details popular items, such as Just Mayo and Just Cookies that contain all-natural plant-based ingredients.
There is no need to go to extremes, at least not at first. Many of your favorite foods have plant-based alternatives. You can eat pizza, brownies, and even versions of your favorite burgers with the help of plant alternatives. Powdered egg substitutes sold in health food stores can be used for baking. Nut butters are a great replacement for oil in chocolate chip cookies and add a nutty flavor, while applesauce can replace fats in cakes. Imitation cheeses made of soy are readily available and can be used for pizza and lasagna. Seitan is a popular meat replacement, or try grilling Portobello mushrooms for a special kind of burger.
No one should try to guarantee that a vegan diet will cause you to shed pounds in weeks, but the point of a plant-based diet is to promote total health rather than just weight loss. You can become a total vegan or simply make replacements from time to time to reduce meat and dairy. A vegan diet means concentrating on whole foods consuming foods in their natural state while avoiding unhealthy additives and saturated fats.