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Developing a Whole Foods Vegetarian Diet

Article by Cruz Short

A short time ago as the two of us were discussing our diet requirements I asked a really dumb question. “What’s the difference between vegetarians and vegans? Are they one in the same or are there differences in the way they approach veggies?”Without any hesitation my wife retorted that vegans don’t consume dairy products. Imagine my horror when I thought that ice cream was suddenly an endangered species in my diet.Within minutes I fired up Google and launched a search to curb my curiosity about veganism. Is this a bunch of weirdos…holdovers from the Hippie movement? Are they members of PETA? Or…are they onto something that I have just missed out on in my years of gorging myself?After all, since we have adopted a healthier diet and lifestyle it seemed only reasonable that I find out more about the vegan diet. What can a vegan eat? Would a vegan diet plan be in our best interest?A typical vegan diet includes legumes, seeds, soy products, nuts, fruits and vegetables. OK. I’m with you so far. That’s what we eat.A typical daily routine includes fruit for breakfast. The midday and evening meals consist of fresh salads and vegetables and steamed or saut??ed vegetables and grains.The vegan diet plan excludes foods that are high in saturated fats, animal protein and cholesterol yet includes foods high in potassium, carbohydrates, fiber, magnesium, and calcium.So that’s an overview of what they do eat and what they don’t eat. But what are the benefits? Check this out. A vegan diet helps to reduce the risk of serious health problems like those diseases we all want to avoid…cancer, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, gout, kidney problems, high blood pressure, and even aging.There is however a word of caution that comes with the vegan diet. What you give up…meat, eggs, milk, etc., removes important nutrients from your diet. Therefore, if you’re not careful to gain a really good understanding of how the vegan diet works you could do some serious damage to your body. It’s not the kind of diet that you just jump into and learn as you go. You may even need to count calories for a while just to make sure that you are getting enough fuel for your body.Vegan proponents suggest doing your homework first. Learn the principles associated with the diet before committing to it. Then ease into it slowly rather than just stopping your old diet “cold turkey.” Pardon the pun.Meat and fish provide our bodies with necessary protein and omega 3 essential fatty acids. Finding substitutes for these nutrients present a challenge. Therefore it is necessary to learn all the vegetarian substitutes for the nutrients obtained from meat and other non vegetarian food products. The most common replacement foods for meat are tofu, seitan and tempeh.You probably know about tofu but may be unfamiliar with sietan and tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented product (made from soybeans or legumes) originally from Indonesia with a slightly rubbery texture and a strong flavor. Sietan is wheat gluten and is also known by the names wheat meat, Mock Duck, and gluten meat.There are also varying approaches to the diet. For example, there are some who eat as much as 75% of their food raw. No doubt that would be an extreme challenge for most of us but it is in fact the healthiest way we could possibly eat.For many of us veganism is a new thing but it has actually been around for a long time. The vegan diet plan is routed in ancient Hinduism and has been a common fixture in the Indian lifestyle since well before the Christian era. Indeed, for some, the diet is seen as being ideal for spiritual progress.We have a tendency to reject that which we don’t understand and I would guess that many people reject any diet that eliminates good old meat and potatoes. However, we would do well to give the vegan diet a closer look.As I compare notes from what I have learned about healthy eating in recent years with what I have learned about the vegan diet plan I believe that it is one of the healthiest diets on the planet.

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