Veganism is a way of living characterized by practice of abstaining from the use of animal products as far as possible, particularly in diet, to avoid all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.
The vegans eat only foods of plant origin for example vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and so on. But there are some moot points as well e.g. the use of honey because it is obtained /stolen from honey bees.
Why a Vegan?
- Detention of captive animals (livestock industry)
- Animal cruelty and exploitation of animals for entertainment (dolphinarium, zoo, circus, bullfights, fights involving animals)
- Various experiments on animals (testing of drugs, cosmetics).
- Production and use of items made of leather, wool and fur (clothing, footwear, leather goods).
People may become vegans for many other reasons, including concern for personal health and the environment, economic and world hunger concerns, food preferences, or spiritual reasons. People may become vegans for one reason, and then later on adopt some of the other reasons as well.
Foods from plant source are somewhat more common among adolescents with eating disorders and the others with obesity, diabetes, hypertension etc than in the general population. According to the ADA position paper on vegan diets, however, “recent data suggest that adopting a vegan diet does not lead to eating disorders, rather that vegan diets may be selected to camouflage an existing eating disorder.” Make sure you fully understand your own reasons for choosing veganism.
Veganism is not just eating vegetable diet; it is a philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. Health of a vegan is at stake if he/she doesn’t maintain a balanced diet because vegetarian diet is lacking in some of essential nutritional components which the animal may have in abundance. Just because plant source foods are low in calories and fats and completely cholesterol free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Although chances are the most vegan things will be better for you than what the typical American eats. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says a vegan diet is only healthy if it is well rounded and planned out. If you one is considering going vegan for health reasons, he/she might also want to consider buying organic. If it’s not, you are missing out on vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to maintain a good health.
According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009, vegan diets tend to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat, cholesterol, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.
So, the deficiency of these may result into a number of diseases for example megaloblastic anemia, weight loss, neuropathies, bone weakness and pathological fractures, muscle weakness and twitching, reduced immunity and opportunistic infections. These diseases may be found in isolation or in groups.
Palatable Vegan Foods
Vegans commonly take plant foods like oatmeal, stir-fried vegetables, lentil soup, salad bar items like chickpeas and three bean salad, fruit smoothies, popcorn, dates, apples, macaroni, cereal, toast, orange juice, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, frozen fruit desserts, spaghetti, vegetarian baked beans, guacamole, chili, etc. But with time it may become difficult to live with limited dining options. Therefore, making new and palatable recopies is a good option. This not only makes the food more palatable but also improves the nutritional value of the meal.
Dr. Lisa MD, Readers Bureau, Contributor
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