Vegan Diet has been gaining a lot of popularity these days. Veganism is a concept of Living in which a person refrains from using or consuming all forms of animal products. So in the diet sphere- this would mean no meat products, dairy or eggs. While this concept is being followed globally by many, it also raises some eyebrows due to the possible nutritional deficiencies it can lead to- due to restriction of certain food groups.
Firstly, why is it surrounded by so much hype?
The USP of Vegan Diet is its association with countless well researched health benefits. It seems to be an answer to the growing Obesity- as Vegans usually have a lower BMI as compared to non-Vegans. Plant foods contains zero cholesterol and saturated fat- hence would obviously pose a lower cardiovascular disease risk as well.
A plant-based diet is richer in Dietary fibre and phytonutrients as compared to the no fibre content of Animal foods- hence vegans also have better gut health. Increased fibre content in diets is also linked with a lower Diabetes and colon cancer risk as well. According to the American Journal of clinical nutrition, Vegans consume more vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and magnesium.
Now, if it is associated with these and many more health benefits, where’s the flaw?
Many people advocate the possible risk of protein deficiency that Veganism can lead to. The main source of high Biological Value protein in the diet comes from Animal foods. Plant foods contain protein but is often lacks one or more essential amino acids.
The news is- Vegan diets can be Nutritionally adequate. You just require careful planning of a variety of plant foods to ensure a sufficient protein intake.
Here are some foods and hacks you should stick to, if you are a vegan or plan to go on a vegan diet!
1. Age old golden method- Pulses and cereal combination
Instead of just consuming pulses for protein- Its better to consume cereals and pulses together- for a higher quality(complete) protein. Pulses are deficient in Amino Acid Methionine and Cereals are deficient in Lysine. But in combination, these perfectly complete each other. So, Dal-Roti, Missi Roti or even a scrumptious Khichdi- Rely on them!
2. Pseudo grains
Pseudo grains like Amaranth and Quinoa provide double the amount of protein as compared to Cereals. The protein present is also of High Biological Value. Replacing regular rice and cereals with with these superfoods is the easiest way to include some extra protein in your plant based diet.
3. Soy foods like Tofu and Soymilk
The perfect answers to the lack of Dairy in your diet. These are rich in protein and would even Calcium as well. The isoflavones in Soy also reduce the risk post Cancers, especially in elderly Menopausal women.
It is a blue-green algae, very rich in protein and a perfect supplement for Vegans. Just one Tablespoon provides around 4g Protein.
5. Nuts and Seeds
A variety of Nuts and Seeds are the powerhouses of nutrients- including protein. In addition, these also cater to the omega 3 and 6 Fatty acids- a deficiency often seen in Vegans.
So, should one practise Veganism? You decide! But it is important to know that it won’t lead to any protein deficiency if planned carefully with diverse food groups!