Plant-Based Diet Perks: How and Why to Go Vegan

Vegan
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What does it mean to go vegan? Does that lifestyle result in endless variations on tofu? Should you ban leather from your life? Get the facts and myths on a vegan diet here.

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Defining Vegan
Some choose to go vegan for reasons beyond their health. They want to protect animals and the environment, and so choose to extend their veganism philosophy "beyond the plate ("I won't eat anything that has a bladder or a mother") to not wearing animal products (leather, suede, fur, wool, silk, feathers), and avoiding products with animal ingredients or testing ("cruelty-free" labels)," reports Readers Digest.

WebMD defines it more simple: "The practice of avoiding the ingestion or use of animal products."

Make it Work
Here are some considerations about following a vegan lifestyle, according to the Readers Digest experts:

  • Vegans and those who avoid animal products (even part of the day, or part of the week) often have low rates of obesity. On average, they weigh 5 to 20 percent less than meat eaters. Vegetarian diets on the whole are linked to lower BMIs, reduced risk of type II diabetes and lower incidents of cardiovascular disease.
  • You can get enough protein from plant-based sources. According to traditional dietary standards, a 140-pound woman should have 50 grams of protein a day, and for a vegan that might come from a cup each of cooked spinach (5 grams), lentils (18 grams), and tempeh (a soy product with 41 grams)
  • You can save money. Vegan diets can be extremely economical. Many vegans center their diet around grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds, all of which can be purchased cheaply in bulk.
  • You don't need to stock up on supplement, with one exception. "To help with brain and nervous system functions, vitamin B12 is key. Since B12 only occurs naturally in animal-sourced foods, vegans can instead eat fortified nutritional yeast and often sprinkle it over pasta, tofu ricotta, or fresh popcorn for a buttery taste."
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