If you are thinking beginning vegan lifestyle there are some things you should know.
Most great apes consume a wide variety of plant food.
The Western lowland gorillas who live in the Central African Republic, for example, have been observed to eat over 200 different plants and more than 100 varieties of fruit.
Many of these plants foods are low in calories, so that the great apes must eat large quantities of them. It would be impossible for us to emulate them as we would have to spend all day munching, as apes forage, on a huge variety of plants and fruits
The human ape is an exception
With the emergence of Homo erectus about 1.8 million years ago, a transition took place towards diets that were nutritionally dense, which facilitated a significant expansion in brain size. Another factor that facilitated a further increase in brain size was the introduction of cooking about 250,000 years ago. When they started cooking, human beings benefited not only from easier mastication, but also from a greater digestibility of, and an increase in energy derived from, food
Whereas cooked foods did not only include animal products, it is thought that our gathering and hunting ancestors may have obtained more than half of their daily energy from animal foods As animal foods provide more energy than plant foods per unit of weight
When our ancestors started farming about 10,000 years ago, there is substantial support for the predominance of plant foods in hunter-gatherer groups living in areas where plants could grow
Whereas no milk other than human milk may have been consumed before farming was introduced, there is sufficient evidence to support the view that hunter-gatherer societies consumed a greater proportion of animal foods than subsistence farming communities later did
Without modern technology, it was difficult for most sedentary populations to adopt dietary patterns that contained large quantities of animal foods.
The vegan diet seems to be linked to better general health, with some fears about vitamin deficiency; living vegan lifestyle
We need to take these fears away, or get to know the long-term consequences. This could make more people interested in taking up the vegan diet for health reasons.
It will take a couple of years, before research is done to understand the mechanisms behind how a vegan diet affects our health, as it will require more controlled studies.
But despite the lack of data on the vegan diet specifically, researchers say existing evidence on diet and health generally points to a few trends;
Vegans have a lower body mass index (BMI) which means better cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
The vegan diet is much like any other. It can help to lower your risk of disease, or increase it – depending on the foods you eat.
If you compare a plant-based diet with an unhealthy diet that includes meat, the plant-based diet is certainly better.
But if you follow a relatively prudent omnivorous diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fruit, vegetables, legumes and low in meat, there’s evidence to suggest this type of omnivorous diet is at least as healthy as a vegan diet.
There’s a lot more digging to be done before we know for certain if veganism can be healthier than any other diet – especially when it comes to long-term health effects. In the meantime, experts advise that the best vegan diet is one that includes lots of fruit and vegetables, and B12 supplements, and less vegan junk food.
What is a Junk Food Vegan?
A junk food vegan is a vegan who regularly consumes highly processed foods which are primarily made in science labs. Some popular choices are the famous Oreo biscuits as well as a variety of vegan “cheeses.”
Don’t assume that because you’re vegan, you must be healthy. Many people that have adopted the vegan lifestyle are not healthy.
You can be vegan and still have a very poor diet. Ideally, your diet should consist of mostly whole plant-based foods which include vegetables, legumes & beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, super foods, healthy fats, grains and fermented foods.
With the rise of junk food options in our supermarkets, cafes and fast food chains like McDonald’s and Domino’s, it’s becoming harder for vegans to embrace a whole foods diet.
These diets can be very healthy, but like anyone, vegans and vegetarians need to be mindful of nutrition deficiencies. For instance, dairy products are a major source of calcium and vitamin D, so vegans and ovo vegetarians should eat lots of dark leafy greens (another good source of calcium) and choose foods that are fortified with calcium. If you go vegan, you may also want to consider vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin B12 is necessary to prevent anemia, and because it’s only naturally found in animal products, vegans in particular may want to consider vitamin supplements or foods fortified with the nutrient.
FOODS TO EMBRACE
Luckily, vegans and vegetarians don’t suffer from a lack of nutritious and delicious foods. Vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts and beans are suitable for both diets when they’re prepared correctly. And vegans can choose from a huge variety of products made with plant-based dairy substitutions.
FOODS TO AVOID
Because many people don’t realize how many seemingly animal-free foods actually contain small amounts of animal products, becoming vegan or vegetarian can come with a lot of surprises. For instance, non-fat yogurt and candies often include gelatin, which is made with animal parts, and some orange juice brands are fortified with omega-3 from fish.
For vegans and vegetarians, it’s important to ask questions about how restaurant food is prepared before ordering it. Many soups and sauces that don’t seem to contain meat are made with chicken or beef stock, tortillas are sometimes made with lard, and fried foods may be made with animal fat.
Vegans have to carefully read the ingredient labels of any new foods. For instance, some chocolate is vegan, but other types include milk.
For some vegans, this extends to honey, because it is produced from the labor of bees. Honey-avoiding vegans believe that exploiting the labor of bees and then harvesting their energy source is immoral. Personally I find this stance somewhat excessive. They are missing out on one of the healthiest foods on earth
Religious and moral aspects
Vegetarianism can be traced to Indus Valley Civilization in 3300–1300 BCE in the Indian subcontinent, particularly in northern and western ancient India
“Eudoxus of Cnidus, a student of Archytas and Plato, writes that “Pythagoras was distinguished by such purity and so avoided killing and killers that he not only abstained from animal foods, but even kept his distance from cooks and hunters”One of the earliest known vegans was the Arab poet al-Maʿarri (c. 973 – c. 1057). Their arguments were based on health, the transmigration of souls, animal welfare, and the view—espoused by Porphyry in De Abstinentia ab Esu Animalium (“On Abstinence from Animal Food”, c. 268 – c. 270)—that if humans deserve justice, then so do animals”
Jainism is an ancient religion from India that teaches that the way to liberation and bliss is to live lives of harmlessness and renunciation. The essence of Jainism is concern for the welfare of every being in the universe and for the health of the universe itself. Before partaking of meals, every morsel of food is examined to ensure that not the tiniest living creature is present, to avoid the karma attached to killing
VEGETARIAN VS. VEGAN: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
For people who don’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, the difference between them can seem murky. Sure, neither diet includes beef, but what about brownies, yogurt and pizza? And what about all the different variations of vegetarianism? While following these diets takes care and plenty of research, understanding their differences is actually pretty simple
THE CORE DIFFERENCE
Vegans eat no animal products, while vegetarians don’t eat animals, but may eat products that come from them (such as dairy and eggs). People typically choose these diets because of health concerns, religious restrictions or moral concerns about harming animals.
Although all vegans tend to follow the same set of clear cut guidelines – eat nothing that came from an animal – there are a few different types of vegetarian diets.
Lacto-ovo (or ovo-lacto), from the Latin words for milk and egg, is the most common type of vegetarian. As the name suggests, people who follow this diet eat dairy products and eggs but avoid meat, poultry and seafood.
Lacto vegetarians eat dairy products but no eggs, meat, poultry or seafood.
Ovo vegetarians eat eggs but no dairy products, meat, poultry or seafood.
Pesco vegetarians, or pescatarians, don’t technically meet the common definition of vegetarian. People who follow this semi-vegetarian diet eat fish and other seafood but no poultry or meat.
Vegans who choose this diet for moral reasons tend to be passionate about animal welfare, so many avoid wearing leather and suede because they are made from animal skins. They may also avoid any fabrics that are made from animal byproducts, including wool and silk, because the animals used to produce these materials are often harmed in the process. Many vegans also look for cruelty-free cosmetics and beauty products.
You don’t have to make the switch at once
You won’t just wake up one morning magically vegan. It takes work, so it should also take time. Start by adding more plant-based foods to your diet, while at the same time cutting back on animal products, especially those that are non-organic, and more importantly processed, refined foods. Making gradual changes and assessing how you are feeling along the way is key.
My wife made the transition almost sub consciously. She suddenly did not feel like meat anymore, then fish, then chicken. Sometimes your body tells you what to do
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I was born on an African farm in the then British colony of Tanganyika, now Tanzania.
I have a great love for animals and nature. I am a celebrity chef and hence my very profession does not allow me to become vegetarian in the true sense. My own diet is vegetarian but I have to work with animal products. I just try to put out of mind the suffering when I am cutting into meat The poor lobsters in the tank, alive, out of their natural environment, just waiting to die.
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