For years people thought what you ate in your diet had no bearing on your health. Now we now that is a fallacy getting us heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and even cancer. So let’s look at some of the needs of your body in relationship to food as a vegetarian or vegan. What should a vegan eat?
The basic nutrients for anyone are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and micro-nutrients. Each of these groups have subcategories, i.e. carbohydrates which include starch, sugar, and fiber. The foods we eat have some or all of the different groups, i.e. pinto beans have some carbohydrates, lots of protein, and some fat, such as the best plant based meats. So the healthy vegetarian needs to eat a balanced diet based on these foods.
Animal protein has some big draw backs on our health. Too much saturated fat, too much cholesterol, hard to digest causing acidity problems and much more. Not to mention all the disease and hormones now prevalent in animals raised for food. Many doctors now recommend a diet free from animal products.
Fat, good or bad which is it? The fat in plant foods is good, just like God designed them. But saturated fat, such as in chicken or beef, is not helpful to our bodies. It adds calories without adding benefits. Trans fat is another bad fat that is especially harmful, they are NOT found in foods naturally. They are created by high temperature and chemical processes, such as in hydrogenated foods. Excess fat is a major factor in heart disease. Without limiting animal products it is very difficult to avoid too much fat.
We should aim for 15 to 25% of our calories in fat. Essentials If we eat a variety fruits and vegetables we will get most of the vitamins and minerals we need. But there are some we should be extra careful about such as vitamin D which doesn’t come from plant foods. (And is VERY limited in animal products.) The best way to get Vitamin D is to get sunshine. Calcium is also a very important mineral we should be sure to get enough of. Calcium is found in tofu, almonds, sesame seeds, and green leafy vegetables.