At the first glance, vegan cooking can well look like a quite restrictive diet. Well, in fact, it is one. All animal products are banned from the vegan menu. That’s basically one and a half of our five main food groups: half of the protein rich foods (the meat) and all dairy products. And in general, all food groups are meant to be part of our diet, and all of them provide us with important nutrients.
Does then the vegan diet not rob us of foods and nutrients that we need badly? Can such a restrictive diet really be healthy, or is it not much closer to a fad diet that is rather health-harming?
What are the risks of being a vegan?
It is a fact that vegans are more prone to a lack of certain nutrients which we normally mainly get from animal products, especially vitamin B12 which is important for the production of the red blood cells, calcium that we need to maintain strong bones and iron, a lack of which can cause anaemia.
It’s also more difficult for vegans to meet their need of proteins, since they don’t eat animal products which contain all the protein components that our body cannot build itself. Legumes, grains and nuts only contain some of these essential amino acids.
Although it is very important to be aware of these problems when you decide to eat vegan, there is not much need to worry about your health. If you eat a wide variety of foods, your body will still get all nutrients it needs. Make certain you combine at least two of the three food groups grains, legumes and nuts/ seeds so that you get enough proteins.
What are the benefits of vegan cooking?
The vegan diet definitely has a number of health benefits too which we should not overlook. It is:
- low in cholesterol
- low in fat
- rich in healthy foods
Low cholesterol diet If you are suffering from high cholesterol levels, for example, this can be a good way of eating for you. Cholesterol is mainly found in animal products, and consuming excessively much saturated fat (also mainly in animal products) causes your body to build bad cholesterol. Vegans barely eat saturated fat, since vegetables contain mostly the healthier unsaturated fats. For this reason, a vegan diet can be very helpful in controlling your cholesterol level and preventing further diseases like arteriosclerosis which can later on lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Low fat diet
Another great advantage of the vegan diet is that, besides consuming less of the health-harming saturated fats, vegans consume significantly less fat in general. Many “fat traps” vegetarians still face (generous cheese toppings and sour cream) are not an issue for vegans because they are animal products. The vegan diet only allows few foods that contain much fat, like vegetable oils, margarine, nuts, avocadoes and coconut milk. This results in a much lower risk of obesity and its dreadful follow diseases (heart attack, stroke, diabetes and many others).
Diet rich in healthy foods
An unbeatable plus for vegan cooking is that it focuses on many of the healthy foods which should be a part every person’s diet, but which meat lovers often neglect. Vegans eat plenty of fruits and vegetables which ensure they are well provided with vitamins and minerals. Grains and legumes provide a great amount of fibre and contribute to keep the digestive system in perfect working condition.
The benefits of vegan cooking definitely outweigh the risks this way of eating carries. If you are healthy, you don’t even have to use complicated plans and calculations about what to eat to ensure you get all nutrients you need. Simply eat a wide variety of grains, whole grain products, legumes, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, and combine several food groups to get the maximum health benefit out of your diet.