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Vegan Diet

A vegan diet is many things, but boring is not one of them. People who are unfamiliar with the vegan lifestyle may be scared to try it, because it seems restrictive. This could not be farther from the truth. There are vegan substitutes or variations for every food out there. Not only do the foods taste amazing, you can get all the nutrition you need from a vegan diet, including protein, calcium, iron, and Vitamin D.

Many people associate protein with meats, eggs, and dairy products so it is no surprise that people would think it would be hard to find in a vegan diet. However, there are many sources of protein for a vegan, including non-dairy milks, tempeh, tofu, leafy green vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, nut butters, zucchini, broccoli, sprouted bread products, and quinoa.

You also can naturally produce more proteins by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Many fruits and vegetables contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. When the body processes these amino acids, they will be sent to build protein and complete their other bodily processes.

At one time, it was believed by most that milk was an important part of health because it contained calcium, which is essential for strong bones and teeth. While calcium is important, milk is not the best source to get it from. Aside from the exploitation of cows in the dairy industry, milk contains casein, a protein which is known to leech calcium from your bones so it can counteract the acidic area created by drinking the milk.

Vegans do not drink milk, but it is easy to find calcium through dietary sources, such as dark leafy greens, fruits and vegetables, beans, and grains. If you eat a cup of rhubarb, dried figs, or collard greens, you receive as much calcium as you would from drinking a glass of milk. You may also find fortified tofu and 'milks' that contain calcium.

To get the same amount of iron found in 100 calories of spinach, you would have to eat 1,700 calories of sirloin steak. This shows that iron found in vegan sources is of higher quality than that found in meat. The best sources of iron include dark green leafy vegetables, beans, lentils, tofu, dried figs and apricots, raisins, cashews, sunflower seeds, legumes, soybeans, mushrooms, baked potato, prune juice, oatmeal, breads, quinoa, cereals, and grains.

Another benefit for iron in a vegan diet is that vegans often intake large amounts of Vitamin C. This is important because Vitamin C increases iron absorption by nearly 6 times its usual amount. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables.

A common misconception is that a vegan diet cannot contain Vitamin B12, since this vitamin is said to be produced by animals. However, B12 is not naturally produced by animal species, but transferred when the animal eats plants from the ground. This is because B12 is produced as a waste product of certain kinds of bacteria (which are helpful to the body, not harmful). The best vegan sources of Vitamin B12 include fortified foods like alternative milk products, breakfast cereals, vegan spreads, yeast extracts, and nutritional yeast flakes.

Aside from these nutrients, you also need to have a well-rounded diet with other essential macro- and micro-nutrients. As someone who eats a lot of fruits and vegetables and who varies their diet, you will find you feel healthier than you ever have in your life.


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