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Benefits and Challenges of being a Vegan

With over 1 million vegans worldwide, there must be some amazing health benefits associated with adopting this lifestyle. After all, vegans consume no animal products whatsoever. This includes butter, cheese, eggs, or anything containing gelatin. Veganism takes the vegetarian diet one step further. Some people adopt a vegan diet due to their love of animals, while others eliminate animal products for other reasons. There are several health benefits associated with veganism, although there are challenges as well. Read on to discover both!

Benefits

When you eliminate animal products from your diet, you’re also eliminating many saturated fats and incorporating more sources of healthy fats, and fruits of vegetables. This diet has countless health benefits and here are just a few.

1.  Lowers Cholesterol

One of the main causes of high cholesterol is consuming foods high in saturated fat. And a primary source of this is red meat and other animal products. High cholesterol can cause several health complications including heart disease and obesity. When you eliminate animal fats from your diet, you’re instantly lowering your risk of developing high cholesterol. There are also natural supplements available to help lower cholesterol.

2.  Increases Your Daily Dose of Vitamins

One of the greatest benefits of a vegan diet is the boost in daily vitamins and minerals you’ll likely experience. That’s because much of your diet is comprised of vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts, which all offer plenty of essential vitamins most people lack. Increased levels of magnesium, iron, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins B12, A, and C are just a few of the nutritional benefits you’ll find from adopting a vegan diet.

3.  Forces Your Body to Properly Use Carbohydrates

Your body uses carbohydrates for energy. Truth be told, a vegan diet contains a good dose of carbohydrates, both in the form of fruit and whole grain breads, pastas, and rice products. When your diet doesn’t include enough healthy carbohydrates, your body will start burning muscle tissue for energy, which means a reduction in lean muscle mass.

4.  Regulates Your Protein Intake

Too much of a good thing can be bad. This is true for many foods and protein is one of them. While protein is important for building muscle and both build and repair tissues, it’s actually the source of protein that can causes complications. Most people get protein from red meat and other unhealthy sources. Vegans only get protein from nuts, legumes, lentils, and soy products, which is a much healthier form.

5.  Keeps Certain Diseases Away

Not only does a vegan diet improve your overall health but it can actually help keep certain diseases at bay and boost your body’s ability to fight them. These diseases range from different types of cancers to diabetes, arthritis, and cataracts. While veganism isn’t a proven cure for these diseases, your risk of developing these and others like it (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease) are significantly reduced.

6.  Provides Increased Energy

If you’re feeling tired and worn out, instead of grabbing for another cup of coffee or an energy drink, try adopting a vegan diet. The foods you eat are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, helping your mind and body work harmoniously to provide you increased energy and positivity throughout your day.

7.  Promotes Weight Loss

More often than not, when someone turns to veganism, they inherently lose weight. That’s because your diet is comprised mostly of low-calorie foods. Another reason veganism promotes weight loss is because you’re eliminating almost all processed foods and those high in saturated fat – two leading causes of weight gain and obesity.

8.  Strengthens Hair, Nails, and Skin

With all those vitamins packed into your diet, it’s no wonder that vegans have especially healthy hair, nails, and skin! Vitamins A and C are responsible for giving skin that healthy glow, while your hair and nails will feel stronger and healthier due to an overall healthier state of being.

Challenges

Adopting a vegan diet isn’t without its challenges. Eliminating all animal proteins and products from your diet can leave your body lacking in important nutrients and minerals. Read on to learn what to keep in mind before going vegan.

1.  Weight Gain

That’s right. Not all vegans are at a healthy weight. In fact, for some, a vegan diet can have the opposite desired effect, resulting in weight gain rather than weight loss. But why is this? Because it takes time for your body to adjust in the significant drop in calories you’ll be eating. This leaves people hungrier and more susceptible to intense cravings. And the worst part is, you’ll crave all the wrong foods like sugars, complex carbs, and other fatty foods that don’t belong in a healthy diet (vegan or otherwise). The best bet for success when adopting veganism is to ease into it slowly and gradually. This will help you develop a tolerance for this new way of eating and won’t leave you feeling deprived.

2.  Digestive Issues

Any change in diet can affect your digestive and gastrointestinal system. After all, you’re changing the components of what you’re putting into it. Your system will need time to adjust to these new foods. Alternate forms of protein such as legumes and grains can leave you feeling bloated and gassy. The best way to address this is to make sure you hydrate while your body adjusts to these new forms of protein.

3.  Lack of Variety

New vegans might find themselves eating the same meals over and over again. It can be difficult to find a wide variety of vegan-friendly foods that you enjoy. The good news is, more and more restaurants and eateries are accommodating vegan patrons. You can also get creative with vegan recipes and make some delicious and versatile meals.

4.  Consuming Unhealthy Protein Alternatives

Not only can the healthy protein alternatives get your guts in a twist, but you may find you’re snacking on “high protein” pre-packaged items such as protein bars, cookies, or other treats. While these are okay in moderation or in a pinch, they shouldn’t become the main staple in your vegan diet. Too often, people rely on these types of vegan-friendly snacks when they don’t have another alternative. That’s why learning how to cook as a vegan is important for success.

5.  Difficult Social Situations

Lastly, don’t be surprised if friends and family don’t understand your vegan lifestyle. You may need to bring your own food to social gatherings or parties. Not everyone knows how to accommodate a vegan, making some social situations uncomfortable. But they don’t need to be. Explain your dietary choices and bring along some healthy alternatives. Don’t make it a big deal and neither will your host.

While a vegan diet isn’t for everyone, it definitely offers some amazing benefits. If you’re considering veganism, do your research beforehand and start off slow. Begin by eliminating all animal proteins in the meat form (chicken, pork, beef, etc.) before eliminating all dairy or other food items. This will help your body and mind adjust to the change.

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