Dietary veganism — the practice of abstaining from eating animal products — is a lifestyle rife with mystery, myths and misconceptions, and is often erroneously regarded as a dietary regime for extremists. In fact, amid copious health-and-wellness benefits, the vegan diet is far more mainstream today. This is exemplified by the number of vegan restaurants and vegan dishes at traditional restaurants increasing exponentially, as well as the high-profile personalities that have adopted a vegan diet.
Perhaps the vegan diet officially “arrived” when Oprah Winfrey went on a vegan diet for 21 days in 2008, and in 2011 reportedly asked her 378 production staff to do the same for one week. Reports also noted that former U.S. president Bill Clinton adopted a vegan diet in 2010 after cardiac surgery, while his daughter Chelsea was already a vegan. In November 2010, Bloomberg Businessweek stated that a growing number of American CEOs were becoming vegan, such as Steve Wynn, Mortimer Zuckerman and Russell Simmons.
Here are 6 “vegan revelations” to provide fundamental key facts and clarify misconceptions about the vegan diet and lifestyle:
Most people think a vegan diet means tasteless food and poorly disguised fake meat. While in the past this may have been true, vegan recipes have evolved, and today there is a wealth of vegan fare bursting with flavor, from barbecue classics and chili to lasagna and other Italian favorites that are prepared with a heightened health factor since fresh vegetables, fruits nuts and seeds are often key ingredients. Spices, herbs, sauces, fresh ingredients and inspired culinary vision have made the modern vegan diet quite tasty!
Those trying to reduce dietary sugar are reluctant to eat a lot of fruit, but the vegan diet allows for as much fruit as you desire. If you minimize or eliminate the consumption of complex carbohydrates like bread, rice and pasta, which all break down to sugar, you can add more fruit to your diet — also beneficial since fruit contains fiber and enzymes that help you maintain a regular functioning system, while the starchy carb counterparts can clog you up and slow your metabolism.
It’s been shown that releasing meat from your diet — as vegans do — can protect you from many degenerative diseases. Meat quality remains an issue in the marketplace, while issues of toxicity, contamination, and excessive hormones and chemicals abound. Even if you happen to eat the best quality meat products when dining at home, fast food and other restaurants are generally not as discriminating.
The vegan lifestyle causes less environmental damage and consumes fewer resources. Organizations like PETA point out that animal agriculture is linked to climate change, water pollution, land degradation, a decline in biodiversity and that a commercially available animal-based diet uses more land, water and energy than a strictly vegetarian one. With this in mind, a striking report out of the University of Chicago found that switching from the standard American diet to a plant-based one reduces more greenhouse emissions per person per year over switching from standard sedan like a Toyota Camry to a hybrid Toyota Prius, proving that what you choose to eat could do more to offset greenhouse gas emissions than what you choose to drive. So if you want to reduce your carbon footprint, go vegan, even for just 10 days.
The vegan lifestyle is not about deprivation. You can still enjoy favorite treats like ice cream, cheesecake and many other desserts. Of course, as with any wellness regime, those with a sweet tooth must still heed the calorie and fat consumption.
The vegan diet tends to be higher in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and phytochemicals, and lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. Eating vegan has proven to control allergies, PMS and depression. This is helped, in part, by avoiding the hormones, antibiotics and antidepressants, among other chemicals found in meat products. The vegan lifestyle also promotes healthier hair, skin and nails since mineral absorption is optimized with an animal-free diet. And it’s been well-reported that eating more fresh fruits and veggies reduces the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease and other deadly conditions.
Koya Webb is an internationally recognized holistic health and wellness expert, author, motivational speaker and consultant who is helping revolutionize the vegan cuisine and holistic living landscape. Her book "Koya's Kuisine: Foods You Love That Love You Back!" helps individuals make positive lifestyle changes that maximize their ability to lose weight, increase energy, reverse life-threatening conditions and experience optimal health and vitality through a fit, active lifestyle. Reach Koya online at KoyaWebb.com.