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Vegetarianism is a way of life with some while others take to vegan diets to maintain a healthier lifestyle. Ethical and religious values are primary reasons why many people follow a vegetarian diet, devoid of any animal meat or animal products. A person on a pure vegetarian diet eats only plant products. Even dairy products and eggs are taboo. Some vegans eat dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and even eggs but do not consume meat or any animal products. Flexitarians are people who largely follow a vegan diet plan but occasionally eat some meat or fish.
Check out the pros and cons of taking to a vegan diet plan. With astute and skillful planning, you can ensure that your vegetarian diet meets all the body's nutritional needs. Merely restricting oneself to plant-based food will not lead to a healthy diet plan if you consume vegan foods high in saturated fats, full-fat cheeses and fast food devoid of nutritional content!
Vegan diet benefits
A study published in the Diabetes care journal noted that persons on a vegan diet plan, one that favored green and colorful vegetables to animal products and fat tended to experience better weight loss and needed reduced drugs to manage their diabetes condition. It also showed reduction of LDL cholesterol.
Those on a vegan diet plan are more likely to maintain healthy weight.
A vegan diet plan is usually associated with lesser incidence of cancer or cardiac problems.
A vegan diet is most often low on fat and high on complex carbohydrates.
Such a diet plan devoid of animal products may aid in better management of type 2 diabetes.
It may also benefit those seeking to reduce cholesterol levels.
Following a predominantly vegan diet reduces the chances of diverticulitis, gall stones, hypertension and diet-related cancers.
Vegan diet nutrition
The main sources of protein for vegetarians are whole grains, nuts and soy products. Soy flour and tofu can be included in the daily diet. Legumes and pulses are a rich source of plant proteins. A vegan diet includes carbohydrate-rich foods such as rice, wheat, barley and oats. Potatoes and other starchy vegetables are also suppliers of carbohydrates. Leafy greens and dairy products can be a good source of calcium. Vegetables and fruits tend to have lower caloric value and total fat content.
Beans, grains and nuts are choc-a-bloc with amino acids that can be turned into complete proteins by the body. Choose from a rich variety of beans and lentils, from kidney beans and lima beans to black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans. Ensure good intake of vitamin C as it aids the body in absorption of plant-based iron. Since Vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods, persons on a vegan diet may need to take vitamin B12 supplements to prevent deficiency. Vegan foods provide micronutrients such as phytochemicals, antioxidants and much-needed fiber.
Vegan diet tips
You can stick to low fat yoghurt and skimmed milk and reduced fat cheese if you are looking at weight loss. Look for ways to ensure that you get adequate omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, vitamin D, calcium and protein. Do not go in for vegan dishes that are high on butter, oil or sour cream. Don't go overboard on nuts, though they are a rich source of healthy unsaturated fat. Opt for wholegrain breads. Beware of high-caloric vegetarian fast food.
If you thought vegan food was boring and bland, think again! Vegan food can be cooked with the right blend of spices, herbs and textures to appeal to nearly all palates. You can whip up many an exciting salad or soup with the various beans and legumes. Add nuts and seeds while stir frying or tossing salads. The added crunch will add to the texture.
Try ethnic dishes from various regions that are bursting with the goodness of vegan foods. From the stir-fried vegetables of Chinese cooking to the falafel from the Middle East, from the traditional Indian vegetarian curries to aromatic soups and lasagnas of Italy, vegetarian food can promise to pander to even the fastidious gourmet!