Vegan Diet

  • 2 Minutes Read

There are many eating plans available for weight loss and health enhancement. What is the Vegan Diet and is it nutritionally adequate and effective for weight loss?

Vegan Diet

A vegan diet is based only on plant foods. Vegans avoid eating any foods of animal origin:

While the vegan diet is a popular topic in the mainstream media, in reality few people are strict vegans. In developed countries, surveys show that from 0.5% to 2% of the population follows a strict vegan diet. But many more people may be part-time vegans, because of concerns about environmental sustainability or animal welfare. In some countries, such as India, veganism is mainstream, and has religious and cultural roots.

Foods Permitted on a Vegan Diet

Legumes, soy foods and nuts must be emphasized at meals every day to ensure adequate protein intake.

Pros

Cons

Sample menu

Breakfast: oatmeal with walnuts, raisins; soy milk
Lunch: burrito with refried beans, salsa and chopped vegetables
Snack foods: nuts, fresh fruit, hummus and vegetables, energy/granola bar
Dinner: brown rice, tofu stir fry with vegetables, fresh fruit

Vegan Diet Summary

Is it healthy?

A vegan diet can be both a lifestyle choice and a health strategy. It is associated with lower risk for numerous chronic diseases, although contrary to popular myths, it does not guarantee longevity. Vegan diets are associated with easier weight control, but this isn't a given. You can eat a high calorie and even high fat/high sugar vegan diet, depending on your choices. "Vegan" does not equal "healthy". It's all about your choices.

Is it viable long term?

Yes, but it requires dedication and planning. Many traditional cultures and religions have been using vegan diets for a very long time. If properly planned, vegan diets are nutritionally complete.

Do I like this diet?

I eat many vegan meals by default, but I am not a strict vegan. While a well-planned vegan diet can be healthy and delicious, knowledge and planning are essential. I am not a fan of fake meat products, and while these foods may be useful on a vegan diet, they should not be the basis of the diet. A healthy vegan diet should be based on whole foods.

Resources

The Vegan RD
The Vegetarian Resource Group (sections on veganism)
The Vegan Society
Vegetarian Nutrition dietitian group (vegan handouts)
International Vegan Association
Meal Planning & Diets->Vegetarian Weight Loss->Diets
Mar 13, 2019
Donna P Feldman MS RDN is author of Food Wisdom for Women and "Feed Your Vegetarian Teen". She writes about food and nutrition at Radio Nutrition.

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