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What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet only contains plants, and foods that are made from plants. Vegans do not consume any animal products whether they are the meat or a by product of animal manufacturing; such as meat, eggs, honey, cheese and milk. Instead a vegan diet would include; fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses and starchy carbohydrates such as bread. Many vegan diets also include dairy and meat alternatives; however these can be high in fat and sugar, so best to be used in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
Does being vegan help with weight loss?
Weight loss and a vegan diet tend to go hand in hand, only if you are a healthy and balanced vegan diet filled with the nutrients and energy that your body needs. If you’re following a healthy vegan meal plan you should expect to lose weight, however there are many processed vegan foods on the market that contain high levels of sugar, salt and fat that should be eaten infrequently. There are also numerous restaurants and shops that sell junk food items such as vegan ice cream, mac and cheese or burgers which seem healthy as they are vegan, but in fact can be high in calories.
Portion control is also important when it comes to a vegan diet. You may have to adjust the size of your portions either to ensure you are getting enough calories or to stop you having too much. The key to weight loss is following a calorie controlled diet and having regular exercise, find out more about how to lose weight healthily here. Also to support your body and give it exactly what it needs, it is recommended that you drink 6-8 glasses of water a day to keep you hydrated.
Is a vegan diet good for me?
If you’re keen to adopt a vegan diet in order to lose weight, then you need to make sure that your meals and snacks are high in protein and essential vitamins. Protein helps your body to grow and repair muscles, and protein rich foods will keep you feeling fuller for longer, these include; quinoa, soy, beans and rice. Thanks to the amount of vegetables included in most meals, a vegan diet is also packed with vitamin C, folate and fibre. It can be difficult for vegans to get enough Vitamin B12, as it is typically found in animal products, this can lead to a B12 deficiency, however many vegan alternatives are fortified with this vitamin. Read labels, and check the packaging to see where you can increase your vitamin b12 intake.
What would a typical vegan meal plan look like?
When embarking on a weight loss plan or changing your lifestyle, planning ahead is key, make sure to talk to other vegans and do your research. This will allow you to get a realistic and clearer picture of what veganism entails and what your new meals could look like. Creating a meal or diet plan is especially helpful when you go to the shops to buy ingredients for new recipes and meals, as you’ll know exactly what you need and what foods can be included.
For example a daily meal plan could look like:
Breakfast: porridge made with almond milk topped with berries, linseeds and a tablespoon of peanut butter or smashed avocado on wholemeal toast topped with nutritional yeast, kidney beans and chilli flakes.
Lunch:roasted tofu and kale served with a hearty lettuce, black bean, carrot, cucumber salad drizzled with tahini or a jacket potato accompanied by baked beans, vegan cheese and a side salad.
Dinner: tomato based chickpea and spinach curry served with rice, and roasted cauliflower or seitan stir fry, served with rice noodles and bean sprouts.
Snacks: vegan yoghurt with fresh plums, cashew nuts and seeds or hummus and carrot sticks.
There are lots of healthy vegan recipes for you to try from frozen banana ‘nice’ cream to curried cauliflower soups and everything in between – your meals should be a rainbow of colour and an explosion of flavour and textures. All these healthy vegan recipes and the new dishes you create based on plants can help you to lose weight, especially when paired with regular exercise.
If you’re looking for fast weight loss, a vegan diet could be for you, however fast weight loss is not always safe or sustainable. Following a healthy diet will enable you to lose weight gradually and help you to keep the weight off in the long run. Read our healthy weight loss article to find out more.
Vegans do not eat any foods produced or sourced from animals, this includes, meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. Vegetarians do not eat meat or fish, however they might eat foods sourced from animals such as eggs, honey and dairy products including milk.
There are plenty of plant based foods that are high in protein that you can easily add to your diet to aid your weight loss and overall health. Tofu, quinoa, lentils, beans, chia seeds, edamame beans, broccoli, almonds, chickpeas and peanut butter are all great sources of protein. Find out more about high protein vegan foods here.