Vegan Diet: What is it? General Considerations, Permitted Foods, Sources of Nutrients, Meaning and Benefits

Whether by belief or following the example of many celebrities, not eating meat or food of animal origin is a trend that has been increased in recent years.

Vegan diets are those in which only vegetables are consumed, such as vegetables, nuts, grains and fruits. The vegan diet does not include foods of animal origin, nor dairy products nor eggs.

For a vegan diet to be healthy, it must contain all the nutrients the body needs and must be balanced and varied.

General considerations

  • Eat at least five servings of varied vegetables and fruits every day.
  • Foods based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other carbohydrates with starch and whole grains.
  • Dairy alternatives such as soy drinks with low fat and less sugar.
  • Grains, seeds and other proteins .
  • Oils and unsaturated fats.
  • Eat small amounts.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, and more than 6 glasses of water a day.
  • Eat foods and drinks rich in fat, salt or sugar in small amounts.
  • The only age group for which this diet is not suitable are children under two years of age, because they have different nutritional needs.

Foods allowed in the vegan diet

  • Fruits: Without limits, they are the source of natural sugars.
  • Grains: Wheat (bread, pasta and rice), couscous, farro and barley.
  • Legumes: Beans, beans, peas.
  • Nuts: Nuts, peanuts and almonds.
  • Tofu y tempe.
  • Oils based on plants.
  • Natural sweeteners: coconut sugar, maple syrup and agave.

To obtain all the necessary nutrients and vitamins, mineral absorption and intestinal health, fermented foods should be added.

As are seaweed, kimchi, sauerkraut and miso paste, in addition to a source of vitamin B12 as the nutritional yeast.

Sources of nutrients

When you eat the right nutrients you can make a healthy and balanced vegan diet.

If not planned properly, with the vegan diet you can lose nutrients, such as calcium, iron and vitamin B12.

Vegan sources of calcium and vitamin D

The calcium necessary for the health of teeth and bones. The source of natural calcium is obtained from lactic products (cheese, yogurt and milk), but can be obtained from other foods such as:

  • Beverages based on soy, oats and rice.
  • Tofu.
  • Tahini and sesame seeds.
  • White and integral bread.
  • Nuts, raisins, figs, prunes and dried apricots.

Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These are necessary for the maintenance of bones, teeth and muscles. The sources of vitamin D are:

  • Expose to the sun.
  • Cereals and soy drinks without sugar (with vitamin D added).
  • Vitamin D Supplements.

The reference of the origin of the product is made on the label of vitamin D supplements.

Vegan iron sources

Iron for obtaining red blood cells is essential. It can be obtained from:

  • Bread and wholemeal flour.
  • Cereal fortified with iron.
  • Green leafy vegetables, such as watercress, broccoli.
  • Nuts
  • Dried fruits such as prunes, apricots and figs.

Sources of vitamin B12

The body requires vitamin B12 to keep the nervous system and blood healthy.

Vitamin B12 can only be found naturally in foods of animal origin.

Plant-based foods are limited and a vitamin B12 supplement is needed.

The sources include:
  • Cereals fortified with B12.
  • Sugar-free soy drinks fortified with vitamin B12.
  • Yeast extract fortified with vitamin B12.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in blue fish, help to keep the heart healthy and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Linseed oil (linseed).
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Soybean oil, soy-based foods, such as tofu.
  • Nuts

Vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids sometimes do not have the same benefits but it helps to eat at least five servings of varied fruits and vegetables every day, reducing the amount of saturated fats and salt.

Pregnancy and lactation in the vegan diet

The vegan regimen during pregnancy and lactation should ensure that enough vitamins and minerals are obtained for the baby to develop healthily.

Vegan regimens are not recommended before two years and during growth should ensure the varied diet of foods that provide the necessary energy and vitamins.

Processed foods

There are foods that despite being of vegetable origin can be made with foods of animal origin such as:

  • Certain breads: the shiny upper crust is obtained with a mixture of eggs, the masses can be mixed with honey, eggs or even proteins of animal origin.
  • Condiments, dressings, sauces: They may contain anchovies such as Worcestershire sauce, eggs in mayonnaise, dairy products in ranch sauce.
  • Sugars: honey and refined sugars.
  • Fried foods: The onion rings are made in a dough with eggs or fried in animal fat.
  • Rubber candies, gelatin, marshmallows: These sticky sweets get their chewable texture from the gelatin that is of animal origin.
  • Toasted Salted Manis: Gelatin is used to help salt stick to peanuts.
  • Certain alcohols: Beers and made with fish gelatin.
  • Juices: Omega-3, or fortified with vitamin D can be obtained from fish oil and lanolin derived from sheep’s wool.

Meaning of the vegan diet

A vegan diet aims to consume foods and beverages based on vegetables to eliminate the use and damage of living beings.

The vegetarians eat dairy products and eggs, vegans eliminate all animal products or byproducts.

It is thought that veganism is a complete lifestyle, which goes beyond food.

They include clothes, makeup, personal care items, medications and even entertainment options that include animals or use products of animal origin.

There is an element to be vegan linked to compassion, and the argument is that not consuming meat frees the animals from slaughter and suffering.

On the other hand, the adoption of diets based on the consumption of vegetables such as veganism have shown that they contribute to the reduction of water waste.

As well as deforestation, emissions of greenhouse gases and climate change, which are secondary effects of large-scale meat production.

Benefits of the vegan diet

The healthy effects of adopting a vegan diet are:

  • Weight loss.
  • An improved blood pressure.
  • Low cholesterol levels
  • Less risk of diabetes or heart disease.
  • Improves digestion.
  • Improve sleep
  • Lighter and healthier skin.
  • A longer life