Are you thinking of converting to veganism? In the last years, following a plant-based diet has become increasingly popular – and that for good reasons. Where as ten years ago, people would shrug their shoulders when asked what a ‘vegan’ is, these days, plant-based food alternatives like the Beyond Burger are popping up everywhere in big supermarket chains, making a plant-based diet increasingly accessible. At Mahakala, we believe in vegan diet and its benefits and, therefore, every single one of our retreats is a fully plant-based yoga retreat.
Questions, questions, questions… But what’s the real deal?
But is a strictly plant-based diet really healthier than a carnivore diet? Reasons to go vegan for the animals and the environment are nowadays commonly accepted and backed up by science. However, going vegan for health reasons has been a pool for criticism. Questions like “Where do you get your proteins from?“, “What about your iron levels?“ and “Have you thought about your omega-3’s?“ belong to the daily struggles of a vegan. In the following, we discuss the benefits of a vegan diet, but also common misperceptions and things to consider when adopting a plant-based lifestyle.
The fascinating benefits of the fresh and nourishing vegan diet
Despite saving the environment and animals, the elimination of meat and all animal products can also have a lot of positive benefits for our health. Various scientific studies have shown how a plant-based diet effectively decreases the chance of heart diseases and strokes and lowers blood sugar levels tremendously.
These results can be seen as very promising results, since both cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are in the top 10 causes of death in the United States, with heart diseases even being the leading cause of death in the USA. So can a change to a plant-based diet lower or even eliminate our risk of dying from heart failure, diabetes and possibly even cancer? Many researchers suggest that this is exactly the case. A diet rich in plant-based foods including a lot of vegetables, fruit and fibers and cutting out meat, processed foods and sugary drinks can lower the risk of heart failure by over 40 percent. That’s only almost half the risk of a person eating meat!
Be the hero by saving the animals & yourself!
Other benefits of vegan lifestyle that are not as essential for survival but are also worth considering the switch to a plant-based diet are its absence of antibiotics, which are commonly found in meat and dairy products. Many farmers feed their animals with antibiotics to eliminate diseases. However, when consuming meat, these antibiotics then end up in the human body, where they can create a resistance against certain antibiotics. Other benefits of a plant-based lifestyle include better digestion through an increased intake of fibers, a diet rich in antioxidants (that fight free radicals and aging), promoting weight-loss as well as clearer skin. These are all reasons why our plant-based yoga retreat does pure miracles to you!
The misunderstandings can get you confused..
Whereas a vegan diet can definitely be healthier than one including meat, dairy products and eggs, there are of course also things to be cautious of when adopting a vegan lifestyle.. What to be careful of when adopting a plant-based diet? Most vegans and vegetarians with a healthy, balanced diet are perfectly healthy. There are however, some important things to keep in mind when opting for a plant-based lifestyle to make sure that you get all the necessary nutrients your body needs.
Proteins – the critical part of our survival
Since most meats, dairy products and eggs are rich in (animal) proteins, it is important to substitute these when switching to a plant-based diet. Proteins can be found in many sources like legumes (most beans, peas, chickpeas and lentils), various nuts as well as soy products like tofu, tempeh and miso. Make sure to incorporate these healthy and nutrient rich ingredients in your meals and you won’t lack any proteins. If you are working out and want to give your body an extra protein kick, try adding hemp seeds or hemp protein powder to a smoothie.
Iron is found quite easily, and not just in meat products
Another common misperception is that vegans and vegetarians lack iron in their diets. Our bodies need iron to keep us energized and our immune system healthy. If our body gets insufficient amounts of iron through food, it can lead to iron deficiency anemia, a condition where our blood lacks healthy red blood cells. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, cold hands and feet and pale skin.
Iron from meat is very easy for the body to utilize, but also certain plant-based foods contain high amounts of iron. Iron rich foods include beetroots, oats, spinach, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, chard, strawberries and legumes. For our bodies to absorb the iron optimally, it is advisable to consume vitamin C at the same time.
The marvellous vitamin B12 is so important that you should take it form the jar
The third nutritional component to be aware of when following a vegan diet is vitamin B12. This vitamin is unfortunately found almost exclusively in animal products like meat and dairy. Some nutritional yeasts contain the vitamin and it is nowadays often added to plant-based milk and cereals.
Our body needs B12 to make red blood cells and keep our neurological system in proper function. When deficient, it can lead to tiredness, muscle weakness, lack of appetite and even depression. Hence, since B12 is such a vital component to keep us healthy and it is hardly found in plant-based foods, it is recommend to take a supplementation when adopting a vegan lifestyle.
The bottom line of the magically healing vegan diet
A plant-based diet, when ensuring adequate nutrition, has many benefits, not only for personal health, but also for the health of the animals and our planet. These days we simply do not require animal products for sustenance anymore. Our constant desire of wanting more has led us to the production of an excessive amount of natural resources, which are being used to support raising animals we then kill to eat for pleasure. However, this also annihilates our environment, burning down forests for pasture. In the face of climate change, veganism is a fundamental and crucial lifestyle switch that could ensure our survival as a species.
A plant-based lifestyle can be as healthy or even more beneficial than a carnivore diet. By being conscious about our food choices and basing our diets around balanced, nutrient rich whole foods, we ensure that our personal nutritional needs are met and maintain optimal health while at the same time also protecting the environment and animals. If you are thinking about making a switch to a plant-based diet or are already passionate about vegan food, come and join us at one of our completely plant-based yoga retreat, where we also offer cooking classes to inspire you and nutrition talks to provide you with more knowledge on the benefits of veganism. Our plant-based yoga retreat will leave you feeling fully nourished and rejuvenated!