Going vegan is a way of life, with increasing numbers of people making the switch for health, moral and environmental reasons. While a vegan diet can have ample health benefits, it’s important to know what to expect beforehand. This collaborative post takes a look at just three things to be aware of.
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It seems as though vegan diets have become increasingly popular recent times. The number places to eat out, menu options and vegan brands in the supermarkets have all expanded, giving consumers more choice. Going vegan certainly isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. But if you’re curious about veganism or are debating taking plunge, you need to be aware of what to expect. Here are just 3 potential issues that may need to be managed on this type of diet.
1. You’ll Need A Mix Of Protein Sources
The essential macronutrient protein is vital building block for the body’s tissues and muscles, while also being an important source of fuel. Protein is made up of 20 amino acids, 11 of which are made in the body. This leaves 9, the “essential amino acids”, that we need to get from our diets, and if a food contains all 9 of these it’s referred to as a ‘complete protein’.
Meat is one of the largest sources of protein while also contain all 9 of these amino acids. Because is a complete protein source, cutting this out of the diet can leave you struggling to obtain enough complete protein regularly. The good news is that you can achieve the same thing by eating different protein sources.
There has been a lot of research into proteins and amino acids, with plenty of information, advice and suggestions that can be found online for how to mix and match your food sources to obtain an optimal intake. Sources of protein suitable for vegans and vegetarians include the likes of lentils, chickpeas, tofu, seitan, tempeh, oats, nuts, chia seeds, green peas, spirulina and nuts.
2. You Might Experience A Lack of Iron & B12
Iron and B12 are found in a lot of vegan un-friendly foods and drinks, like meat and cow’s milk. As such, it’s harder to get these vital components on a plant-based or basic vegan diet. Iron deficiency anaemia and B12 defiecny can cause various symptoms, with people experiencing anything from a gradual lack of energy and lightheadedness to issues with weakness, brittle nails and a rapid heartbeat.
Over time, B12 deficiency can increase levels of homocysteine, increasing the risk of stroke and heart disease. One study of vegan participants discovered that 92% had B12 deficiency.
It’s worth investigating good vegan sources of iron and B12 to ensure you get those in your diet, such as leafy greens, fortified cereal, fortified soy, nutritional yeast, and marmite. It’s worth getting a blood test to check your levels and speaking to your GP if you have any concerns. It’s also worth considering regular supplements, like taking vegan friendly iron tablets daily, to support your diet.
3. The Vegan Diet Can Be Gassy
When you switch to a new diet, your body takes time to adjust. In fact, it’s often not recommended that you go from a meat-eating diet straight to a vegan one overnight. Instead, give your body a chance to adapt by gradually reducing your meat and dairy intake. This puts less stress on your digestive system and can prevent a host of digestive problems.
However, the vegan diet is naturally high in foods that can cause bloating and gas. It’s also worth noting that fibre, which is prevalent in a plant-based diet, doesn’t suit everyone. Again, this should get better over time as your body becomes used to digesting these foods, so if you’re concerned and having problems with extensive bloating, upset stomach or constipation, speak to your doctor.
Even if your body digests and works well with fibre and the vegan diet, being gassy and bloated at times is quite common. You might be able to counteract this with ensuring you eat slowly and chew well, or taking digestive enzyme supplements and probiotics, as both can be beneficial for aiding your digestive system.
[ This is a collaborative post ]