People choose a vegan diet for ethical, health or environmental reasons. But it’s not enough to just cut out animal products and declare yourself vegan. We have to find a way to get the nutrients our bodies need in a different way. And that is certainly not easy. If we don’t do things the right way, we could be setting ourselves up for a lot of health problems that can make our lives quite complicated.
Veganism in a nutshell
It is a way of life that seeks to eliminate all forms of animal exploitation as far as possible. Vegans do not eat:
- Meat, eggs, dairy products or honey.
The basis of their diet is a plant-based diet such as:
- Fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, seeds, mushrooms, herbs and products made from them.
They should also reject fur, leather products and not promote cosmetics tested on animals.
Without nutritional knowledge it won’t work
The idea of leaving out everything of animal origin and that anything of plant origin has the same nutritional value is not true. The stumbling block is often a lack of knowledge about the representation of different vitamins and minerals in food. Unfortunately, nowadays we have to be doubly careful when it comes to searching for information on the internet and social media, as we can come across many lies and myths that can only do us harm.
Animal diets have the advantage of containing large amounts of, for example, vitamin B and minerals (of course, this is a varied and balanced type of diet). This is not the case with a plant-based diet. Some legumes contain this, others contain that, in short it is important to learn how to combine foods appropriately in order to give the body all the necessary substances.
Dietary supplements are necessary
There are exceptions that do not go with a vegan diet to supply the body. Probably the most frequently mentioned is vitamin B12, which affects memory, reduces the risk of heart disease and can damage the body if it is deficient. The way to prevent this is simple – just supply this vitamin regularly. Substances that are at risk of deficiency, such as iron, calcium, magnesium and blood protein levels, can be addressed in the same way.
Everyone will feel differently
When you radically eliminate all animal foods from your diet, it is clear that you will experience some changes in your body and mental state. A lot depends on what your diet looked like before, as ideally half of your portions should always contain vegetables. If you have been eating like this, nothing unexpected will happen. However, if your body was not used to large amounts of fibre and legumes, you may find it harder, at least at first.
If you’ve been an ‘omnivore’ all your life, you have to expect that it won’t be easy. Definitely don’t go vegan overnight, as you might be hungry despite large portions and you might not be used to the taste of some foods. Veganism is also much stricter than vegetarianism, for example. It’s not just about turning down a glass of milk or a steak. You will have to forget about ordinary restaurants and cafes. If you go on a trip, you will have to prepare your food to take with you, as it will not be easy to find a place with vegan food.
A vegan diet is fundamentally different and therefore we should make sure we are doing everything right. The easiest way to do this is to have a blood test arranged by your GP. If we don’t want to do them or learn something new, we should stick to the old, tried and tested way.