The Vegetarian And Vegan Lifestyle – Are They Truly Living Healthier & Happier?
Here we come to the question of how healthy a meatless diet is, and how people who lead a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle nourish themselves?
Vegetarians abstain from meat, vegetables can supply most of the required vitamins and minerals to the body.
So, what foods do vegetarians and vegans exactly eat to keep their nutrients well-balanced if they forego meat?
Furthermore, vegans also consciously abstain from using animal products such as milk, honey, eggs and gelatin (since this is made from animal bones). Can deficiency symptoms occur here and how can one prevent this? I know you’re curious, thus, I have collected facts for you that are worth knowing.
Nurturing yourself the vegetarian and vegan style
Although meat contains proteins, dairy products provide calcium, phosphorus and vitamin B12, that alone is no reason to eat meat in order to stay healthy.
Even on a meatless diet, you can provide your body with excellent sources of all the essential micro and macronutrients. Most vegans and vegetarians consume more folic acid, vitamin C or beta carotene than the “regular eater” does.
Thanks to the use of plant-based foods, we can easily cover our iron and calcium requirements, thus avoiding deficiency symptoms.
Plant sources of iron, calcium, protein and wholesome fatty acids
Calcium: Almonds, arugula, spinach, dried figs or kale are all highly fortified with calcium.
Iron: We find iron in dried apricots, peaches, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, oatmeal, amaranth.
Proteins: Soy, legumes and whole grains got you covered with proteins.
Unsaturated fatty acids: Good suppliers include avocado, nuts, flaxseed.
Rapeseed oil: It contains valuable omega-3 fatty acids.
Almonds contain plant-derived calcium and are also available as almond milk. It is also a great substitute for cow’s milk.
For this, you can also use coconut milk. Speaking of coconut, did you know that one can literally use coconut water for plasma.
Yes, it is so powerful and healthy that they already used it as an effective emergency replacement fluid. Amazing, right? And this is just one small example of how much mother nature looks out and cares for us.
Vegans and the vitamin B12 deficiency
Vegans may be suffering from vitamin B12 deficiency. Because mainly animal products contain vitamin B12. However, you can prevent the deficiency, for example, if you are taking dietary supplements or using a B12-enriched toothpaste. Because we also absorb vitamin B12 through the oral mucosa, toothpaste is an elegant solution.
Vegan diet for toddlers?
Experts agree: Small children should not be vegan nourished. In order not to jeopardize their growth and development, they rely on nutrients derived from animal products, including milk, cheese, yogurt or eggs. With a balanced diet, however, nothing speaks against nourishing them lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
Do vegetarians and vegans live longer?
Unfortunately, one cannot answer this, as too many factors play a role in a long life span. A justified question, however, is if vegetarians live healthier than meat-eaters? And if vegans eat healthier than the vegetarians?
It is important that the human’s eating menu is well-balanced, varied and fully nourished. If vegetables, fruits and wholesome carbohydrates outweigh the meat consumption, then even an occasional meat consumer can eat healthily.
People who are eating meat only about once a week are Flexitarians, by the way. I wrote a very informative article regarding this diet form.
You’ll find the link just below. It’s worth a read. Nevertheless, meatless life is definitely “healthier for the environment”, thus, sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Because vegans and vegetarians tend to be more involved in their diets, it is believed that they eat healthier than the average person.
They also buy and choose their groceries more consciously. Among experts, veganism is even healthier than vegetarianism. Because vegans do not eat cholesterol and consume much less saturated fat.
Tofu, Lupins (Lupin beans are the seeds of the lupine plant). Not only in health food stores, but also at the discount store, we find more and more different meat substitutes. What are all the vegan sausages, cold cuts and patties based on?
- Tofu: soya mass or soy cheese
- Soy granules: crushed soybeans – suitable as a minced meat substitute
- Lupine: Lupine seeds are often processed into sausages.
- Tempeh: cooked soybeans inoculated and fermented with mold, suitable for steaks and solo as dumplings.
- Seitan: wheat protein, suitable for patties and steaks
- Quorn: bound, fermented mold fungus mycelium, similar to the taste and texture of chicken meat.
While many people can imagine how to eat vegetarian food, they get stuck with vegan cooking. But it’s not all that hard to cook vegan: Risotto or pasta with vegetables are considered full-fledged, vegan dishes.
Instead of butter, you use high-quality oils. For sugar, you take coconut blossom sugar, and you replace cream with a substitute based on soy.
Do you and your loved ones love ice cream, but want to stay guilt-free and healthy at the same time? Yes? Then I guess I have something for you.
Let me share my personal favorite, healthy and quick ice cream with you. It fits into a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle and diet alike.
Vegan Banana Ice Cream
Recipe for 2 people
For each additional person add 1 banana and 1 tsp of almond/ cashew or peanut butter.
1. Cut peeled, ripe bananas into pieces
2. Put them into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 24 hours
3. Transfer the frozen bananas in a blender
4. Add a heaped teaspoon of cashew, almond or peanut butter for each banana and puree
5. Serve immediately and enjoy
It tastes heavenly and is very healthy!
While some want to become vegetarians or vegans because of a healthy diet, others wonder if they will be provided with all the essential nutrients when eating meatless food in the future.
Whether vegetarian, vegan or omnivorous: It is important that we eat a balanced diet and use fresh, seasonal products.
Motives for vegans and vegetarians
As diverse as the people are, as different are their motives when it comes to leading a meatless diet. Here are a few important reasons why most opt for this lifestyle:
Conscious lifestyle: This includes the awareness of one’s diet and favors of good quality, preferably locally produced food. Meat consumption mostly does not fit here anymore.
Healthy diet: Meat, especially red meat, is not very wholesome. Thus, meat-eaters, too, should enjoy it only very reserved.
There are many supported studies that show that meat consumption is the number one cause of chronic diseases.
Animal welfare: Many people cannot and will not support problematic meat production. I know, personally, that my conscience and soul do not agree with it.
Sustainability: Scientists agree that our meat consumption pollutes the environment and the climate through the masses. That leaves many people without meat, anyway.
Religious reasons: Buddhists, for example, reject any violence against animals – and, therefore, they eat vegetarian food as well.
A healthy meatless lifestyle
Those who eat a balanced diet and follow the recommendations of the food pyramid or the mixed diet will eat all the important nutrients, even without meat.
Eggs, legumes, whole grains and soy products provide important vegetarian proteins. Plentiful fruits and vegetables ensure the supply with all relevant vitamins and minerals.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, arugula or spinach are known to contain a lot of iron. For better absorption of vegetable iron, combine it with vitamin C.
You can get vitamin C from various citrus fruits, kiwis and berries, as well as vegetables, such as red and green pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, etc.
Regular vegetarians obtain their daily required B12 vitamins, calcium and potassium amounts from dairy products and eggs, Ovo-vegetarians, however, don’t eat dairy.
Thus, they need to take supplements for calcium. Facto-Vegetarians, on the other hand, don’t consume eggs. Therefore, they require to supplement with vitamin B12 in order to prevent a deficiency.
Vegans, need to supplement with vitamin B12 and calcium, as they don’t eat any of the above-mentioned nutrients providers. Also, it is best for both groups alike, vegans and vegetarians, to get an extra amount of protein into their daily diet.
You can easily implement this in the form of a specially designed protein powder, which keeps you healthy and helps building your muscle during exercise.
Nuts, avocado and cold-pressed oils contain healthy fats and omega-3 acids that we otherwise find in greasy fish such as salmon or tuna.
We find the indispensable folic acid in whole grains, as well as in plenty of fruits and vegetables. Particularly rich in folic acid are spinach, legumes, such as peas or chickpeas, cherries and cereals, such as oats and quinoa.
The key is that we put our meals together in a varied way and that proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates are a balanced part of our menu, as well.
How do I cook healthy vegetarian meals?
In order for us to eat a healthy diet, there are a few things to keep in mind for vegetarian cooking.
- We avoid prepared meals – they usually contain a lot of sugar and unnatural additives. Therefore, they do not fit the health-conscious kitchen.
- We use fresh products that fit the season.
- We make sure that all the important nutrients are contained in a meal.
- A vegetarian entree contains fresh vegetables for vitamin intake, proteins in the form of legumes or soy products and carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice or pasta. Vegetable curries with beans or vegetarian curry with chickpeas and cumin are quite simple, yet delicious dishes.
- We garnish our salads with nuts, sprouts and avocado like the avocado salad, so we consume enough of the good fats. Plus, we do not purchase salad dressings. At least we don’t at our house. We make it ourselves, so we know what’s in it.
- We drink lots of fresh fruit/vegetable juices and green smoothies.
Leading a healthy lifestyle begins with lots of research. You need to know what is in the food that you are consuming.
When in doubt, leave it behind. Go home, log on to Google and find a homemade recipe. You can prepare many things, such as dressings, in advance.
They will stay fresh for a longer time because of the spices and herbs you are using. So, you can do this on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Perhaps together with your spouse or partner. What a unique type of bonding time is that?!
Personal note to my co-creators
Now, my friends, it’s your turn to get yourself heard. What are your thoughts about consuming meat, the vegan/vegetarian diet and adopting a healthier lifestyle altogether? Are you up for it?
You already know that you don’t have to go and switch to a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle cold turkey. Remember, there is always the flexitarian diet. Go, check it out, it’s valuable reading material.
It will help you to gradually eat less meat without causing cravings or hunger attacks. That’s how I started, too, and it taught me how to evenly balance my nutrition and choose my food more consciously.
Please, feel free to leave a comment below with your personal story, thoughts, questions, opinions or requests for a topic you want to read more about. We are always open to your suggestions and very delighted to hear from you.
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Sending you much love
Keep in mind that you are beautiful, precious, unique and endlessly loved regardless of what others might say. Thus, keep on shining.