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Know Your Food Series – The Vegan Diet

Veganism is no longer just a trend, but a lifestyle that’s here to stay. It is now being embraced warmly the world over for its health and nutritional benefits. Veganism is also seen as a way of contributing towards the sustainability of the environment and the planet.

But what exactly is veganism, is something, that some of us still need to understand. Veganism essentially, is the practice of abstaining from consuming any kind of animal products, particularly in a diet. So, being vegan would mean saying no to dairy products, eggs, meat, honey and other derived substances. Apart from our diet, it also covers avoiding any such products, in other forms be it clothing, jewelry etc.

Turning vegan though, offers many health related benefits; 

  • Researchers have found that a plant-based diet could potentially improve the health of the majority of individuals, especially people living with type 2 diabetes.
  • Recent studies have also revealed that going vegan facilitates weight loss. A vegan diet helps you replace your existing foods with high-fibre alternatives that are lower in calories and will keep you fuller for longer.
  • People who follow plant-based diet are said to have lower cholesterol, body-mass index, and blood pressure.

However, adapting a vegan diet is not always easy and many times followers of the diet struggle, with maintaining it due to 100% vegan products not being easily available.

Some of the alternatives vegans can consider, in such situations are by substituting animal products with plant-based replacements, such as;

  • Tofu, tempeh and seitan: These provide a versatile protein-rich alternative to meat, fish, poultry and eggs in many recipes.
  • Legumes:Foods such as beans, lentils and peas are excellent sources of many nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. Sprouting, fermenting and proper cooking can increase nutrient absorption.
  • Nuts and nut butters:Especially unblanched and unroasted varieties, which are good sources of iron, fiber, magnesium, zinc, selenium and vitamin E.
  • Seeds: Hemp, chia and flaxseeds, which contain a good amount of protein and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Calcium-fortified plant milks and yogurts: These help vegans achieve their recommended dietary calcium intakes. You should also ideally opt for varieties fortified with vitamins B12 and D whenever possible.
  • Fruits and vegetables:Both are great foods to increase your nutrient intake. Leafy greens such as bok choy, spinach, kale, watercress and mustard greens are particularly high in iron and calcium.

For those of you considering a Vegan lifestyle, make sure you are well prepared for it both physically and mentally and have your kitchen full of vegan foods.

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