The Road to Becoming A Vegan
Upon making the decision of becoming vegan, the very first step towards a vegan lifestyle is research. This is probably the most important step because it’s crucial to be educated about both the health benefits and health risks that come with a vegan lifestyle. What is a vegan or what does being a vegan mean? A vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products. A vegan diet is strict on including only plant-based foods, thus meaning, no eggs, dairy, or animal products of any kind. After doing some research, I found that vegans survive off of the most basic of foods such as beans, rice, pasta, fruits and veggies. Each of these foods are relatively inexpensive to purchase, this breaks the myth that a vegan lifestyle is more expensive than any other.
After a lengthy research session, I discovered that there are many health benefits including nutrition, disease prevention, and physical benefits. (in blog, create a chart to display the health benefits on this list: http://www.nursingdegree.net/blog/19/57-health-benefits-of-going-vegan/)
Some of the health benefits that caught my attention and peaked my interest was the reduced risks of several variations of cancer and cardiovascular disease. A vegan diet containing nuts and whole grains while eliminating both dairy and meat can reduce the risk of both heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. The reduced risk of colon cancer is also attributed to a vegan diet. The reduced risk for breast cancer revolves around the vegan diet not consisting of meat, studies have shown that there is a higher breast cancer rate in countries where women consume more animal products, opposed to less. On a physical scale, studies have shown that vegan diets promote weight loss, higher levels of energy, healthy skin, hair, nails, and more rare, a reduction of bad breath.
A health risk of the vegan diet is that vegans are proven to have lower body mass indexes. Studies show that they may be more vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies such as B12, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A and D, iron, zinc, and calcium.
There are also several types of vegans. I stumbled across a blog titled ‘Mindfully Bliss’ by a web user named Katrina. (Article: http://mindfullybliss.com/the-types-of-vegans/) The post, titled ‘The Types of Vegans‘ breaks down four types of vegans. The first is the ‘regular full fledged vegan.’ This is your typical and most common vegan who does not eat any animal by-products, nor wear any clothes made from animals. A ‘plant-based vegan’ eats natural whole plant based foods. They do not eat anything processed, greasy, or refined. Plant-based vegans also will not eat any form of a meat substitute. A ‘junk-food vegan’ meets all of the requirements of being a ‘full fledged vegan’ but is not a vegan for health reasons. A ‘junk-food vegan’ may typically snack on unhealthy foods such as Oreos, twizzlers, white bread, chips, fries, faux cheese, and faux meat. ‘Junk-food vegans’ may also smoke or drink alcohol. A ‘raw vegan’s’ diet consists of raw fruits and vegetables that are not cooked above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Some of the health benefits of raw veganism are weight loss, more energy, clear skin, and improved digestion.
In the article titled Reality Check: 5 Risks of Raw Vegan Diet written by Christopher Wanjek, a handful of myths and misconceptions about raw veganism are dissected. (Article: http://www.livescience.com/26278-risks-raw-vegan-diet.html). Misconception number one is that cooking destroys nutrients. “Sure, raw foods can be nutritious. But cooking breaks apart fibers and cellular walls that otherwise would be unavailable from the same raw food.” Many vegans spiritually believe in the concept of life energy in raw food. This claim is not supported by scientific facts, but rather debunked in the sense that science proves the concept to be false.
The second misconception of raw veganism is that cooking destroys enzymes. The fact is, heat absolutely destroys enzymes in food, but our bodies create our own enzymes that help us large food enzymes for digestion. The third, the misconception that raw foods are detoxifying. As explained in the article, there are two organs in the body that often need detoxification: the colon and the liver. A healthy detoxification method could be juicing or fasting without adding excess toxins to your body over the two or three day period. This method along with balancing of water can help your organs remove toxins more effectively. The debunking factor to this myth is that no specific amount of food of herbs will magically remove toxins from one’s body. Misconception number four: raw veganism is healthful. As found in some of my previous research, nutritional deficiencies are present when following a raw vegan diet of plant-based foods.
The last misconception listed in this particular article is that raw-only foods are natural. An interesting point that was made in this segment was the notion that, “a child raised on a raw, vegan diet without proper supplementation would likely develop severe neurological and growth problems due to a lack of vitamin B12 and other nutrients. Adults who have eaten animal products for more that twenty years, by contrast, have the benefit of relying on bodily stores of certain key nutrients.”