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A Vegan Diet Is Not Only About Giving Up On Meat, It’s More Than That!

A Vegan Diet Is Not Only About Giving Up On Meat, It’s More Than That!

Ever wondered what it would be like only eat plant-based foods and completely remove any type of meat from your diet? Then ask a vegan! Veganism is a term that does not really refer to a diet, but rather a lifestyle as being a vegan does not only mean you are avoiding any animal-derived food, but it also means that you are completely avoiding the use of any products that are derived from animals. While veganism and vegetarianism are often associated with one another, it is vital to realize that there is a distinct different between the two. Where vegetarians solely avoid eating meat, vegans completely remove any animal products and animal derived products from their daily lifestyle – this does not only extend to meat and food sources, but also to non-consumable products such as leather handbags. In this post, we’ll discuss what veganism is, where it came from, what you can eat and, of course, what can’t vegans eat.

How does the vegan lifestyle become more popular these years?

The original Vegan Society was founded in 1944, but the first traces of veganism dates back to approximately 500 BCE, as reported by The Vegan Society.[1] At this time, the traces refer to a diet that is more similar to a vegetarian diet, but mentioning this discovery is important as it marks an entry point for the development of the vegan lifestyle. In 1806 CE, the vegan lifestyle became more developed when the lifestyle was promoted to be free of dairy products and eggs. The vegan lifestyle as we know it today, however, was developed in 1944 by Donald Watson – this is also now referred to as the modern-day vegan lifestyle. This lifestyle now includes a healthy diet plan, along with the removal of any items in your life that are made from any kind of material derived from animals.[2] This includes leather, feathers and much more.

The vegan diet has received quite a lot of attention in recent years. Similar to how people have adapted their lives to becoming vegetarian or following particular diet plans, such as the paleo diet, many people have discovered that veganism is a healthy way of living and plant-based foods are still able to provide the human body with essential nutrients that are needed to promote overall wellbeing and longevity.[3] It is reported that at least 2.5% of the entire American population are now following a vegan lifestyle and the consumption of meat are constantly decreasing in the country, with a 12.2% drop noticed in a five-year period between 2007 and 2012.[4]

What foods are included and not included in a vegan diet?

A lot of people are used to consuming meat on an everyday basis, which often leads to the thought that protein and some other nutrients can only be obtained from meat. This, however, is not true. While there is one particular exception that should be considered – being vitamin B12 – all other nutrients can be obtained from a vegan diet at adequate levels to support normal red blood cell production, to keep the immune system healthy, to support a healthy weight and to ensure the entire human body functions properly without any compromises.

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SF Gate explains that the following nutrients are important in a vegan diet, and provide excellent examples of food sources where each of them can be obtained:[5]

Protein – Protein is essential for the well-being of organs, bones and skin. It also helps to keep muscles healthy and plays an important part in the growth of muscle mass. In a normal diet, most protein is consumed through meat and animal-derived products, such as dairy and eggs. In a vegan diet, however, protein is obtained from food sources such as chickpeas, soybeans, soy meat, almonds, seeds, nuts, lentils, black beans, tofu and peanut butter.

Calcium – Calcium is also an important nutrient that is classified as a mineral. This mineral is vital for keeping bones and teeth healthy, and plays other important parts in the body as well. Even though dairy products cannot be consumed in a vegan diet, it is still possible to obtain high amounts of calcium from spinach, broccoli, tofu, soy milk and kale.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Iron – Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Iron are also essential nutrients that vegans consume through plant-based food sources. Vitamin B12, however, need to be consumed through a supplement or through fortified products, such as fortified soy milk or fortified cereals.

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We should not only focus on foods that are included in a vegan diet, but also foods that should be completely avoided when you turn vegan. Authority Nutrition reports that the following foods are no-no’s when it comes to following a vegan diet:[6]

• Any type of meat, including beef, veal, wild meat, organ meat and pork.

• Poultry, seafood and fish are also not part of a vegan diet.

• Dairy products, such as cream, butter, cheese, milk, ice cream and yogurt.

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• Any type of eggs should be avoided, including fish eggs, quail eggs and chicken eggs.

• Royal jelly, honey and bee pollen are also not allowed on a vegan diet.

• Specific additives in some products that are animal derived – these should also be avoided.

• Gelatin is also a product that is not allowed on a vegan diet.

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• Any products that contain casein, lactose or whey.

• Baked goods that contain L-Cysteine.

• Certain candies are manufactured with gelatin – these are also not allowed on a vegan diet.

• Pasta usually contains egg, which means they are also not allowed.

Veganism is not only a diet plan but a lifestyle that promotes the removal of certain products

Becoming a vegan can be a rather tough journey if you are used to eating meat, eggs and cheese. Unlike becoming a vegetarian, veganism also requires the removal of certain lifestyle products, like handbags and coaches made from leather, as these products contain material that is derived from animals. Thus, education about what exactly the vegan diet is should be an essential step towards approaching this lifestyle change as it will allow you to determine whether or not this lifestyle choice is appropriate for you.

Reference

[1] The Vegan Society: History
[2] Consumer Health Digest: Best Diet Plan: 6 Ways to Choose an Effective Diet Plan
[3] Consumer Health Digest: Paleo Diet Plan: Is Paleo Diet Plan a Good Way to Lose Weight?
[4] Top RN To BSN: The Rise of Veganism: Start a Revolution!
[5] SF Gate: List of Foods That Vegans Eat
[6] Authority Nutrition: 37 Things to Avoid as a Vegan

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Katleen Brown

Katleen is a health and beauty advisor.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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