Millions of people in the United States and around the world are switching to a vegan lifestyle. Statistics have shown that there is a 600% rise in the number of vegans in the past three years in the US alone. The main reason for this massive shift to veganism is the health benefits provided by the plant-based diet.
Studies have shown that a vegan diet can provide more essential nutrients than a non-vegetarian diet. Some people also choose a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons. But there is no doubt that a vegan diet helps in maintaining a healthy body and preventing several health disorders.
However, beginners may not have enough knowledge about the vegan diet and the foods that they can and cannot consume while following a vegan diet. This guide will help you to understand some of the common mistakes that vegan beginners do.
Here are some of the common mistakes that you should avoid while following a vegan diet.
Assuming Vegan Foods Are Healthier
You need to understand that just because it is labeled vegan, that doesn’t mean it is automatically healthier. Almond milk is a very popular plant-based milk that vegans usually consume. However, it is not healthier than cow’s milk and often enriched with essential minerals and vitamins.
One cup of sweetened almond milk contains 16 grams of sugar. Most of the plant-based products, like vegan nuggets, vegan burgers, and some meat alternatives contain several artificial ingredients. Therefore, those vegan foods are not healthier than non-vegetarian foods. Most plant-based alternatives to milk and meat are low in fiber and other essential nutrients. These products only ease your transition to a vegan lifestyle.
Replacing Cheese With Meat
Many people who are in transition to a vegan meal plan remove meat from their diet and replace it with cheese. This swap works well when it comes to adding flavor to the dishes. However, cheese cannot replace the wide range of nutrients present in the meat even though cheese itself has a good amount of proteins, vitamins, and essential minerals.
The amount of iron present in one ounce of iron is four times the amount of iron present in one ounce of cheddar cheese. The amount of protein in cheese is also less when compared to meat. Therefore, you should include a variety of plant foods that offers a wide range of nutrients instead of replacing meat with cheese.
Drinking Less Water
Drinking enough water is essential for staying hydrated. It is usually recommended to drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water every day. If you are eating a lot of fiber-rich food, you need to drink plenty of water. Vegetarians usually eat more fiber-rich foods than non-vegetarians. Vegans consume around 41 grams of fiber daily.
Drinking enough water when you eat fiber-rich food is essential because it helps in the movement of fiber through the digestive tract and prevent digestive problems like gas, bloating, and constipation. Consuming more fiber will help in decreasing the risk of stroke, obesity, and diabetes. You can also eat fruits that have enough water content to stay hydrated.
Consuming Less Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is one of the most essentials vitamins for your body and it plays an important role in the creation of DNA and red blood cells. One main problem is that meat, poultry, eggs, and milk products are some of the main sources of vitamin B12. That means vegans are at a great risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which may lead to fatigue, numbness, and memory loss.
A high intake of folate masks the deficiency of vitamin B12. It will hide the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency until the damage it causes become irreversible. Vegans have to take B12 supplements to avoid vitamin B12 deficiency.
Consuming Fewer Calories
It is very challenging for vegans to meet the calorie needs because most of the foods that are rich in calories are off-limits for vegans. Studies have shown that the calorie intake of vegans is comparatively lower than that of non-vegetarians.
Calories are essential for your body as it is the main source of energy and your body needs it to perform several functions. Inadequate calorie intake can lead to fatigue, slower metabolism, and nutrient deficiencies.
Consuming Less Iron
A vegan diet may not contain enough iron that your body needs because the main source of iron is generally meat. Heme iron, a type of iron that your body easily absorbs, is present in high quantities in meat. In plant-based foods, non-heme iron is present in high quantities and our body cannot absorb this type of iron easily.
This can increase the risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia in vegans. Therefore, you need to plan your vegan diet well by including more iron-rich plant foods.