Vegan here, vegan there – this term appears more and more frequently in the media and in everyday life. Some people advertise the vegan diet as the ultimate solution to climate problems; others perceive it as a great waiver and an unimaginable limitation. The reasons for a purely plant-based diet can be varied. Some do it for health reasons, others for ethical or environmental reasons.
But what exactly does it mean to eat vegan? What else can a vegan eat and what are the risks associated with this diet? You can find out this and more in this article, which has plenty of information and tips for beginners in particular.
This is how vegan nutrition works
Eating vegan means cutting out all animal products from your menu. This includes not only meat and fish, but also eggs, milk, butter, yoghurt, cheese and honey. All foods containing such animal ingredients are also avoided. This is the case with numerous finished products.
Exact questioning of the ingredients is also necessary for other foods that appear vegan straight away. For example, numerous types of chips contain milk powder as a flavor carrier and many gummy bears contain gelatin, which is obtained from beef or pork bones.
What foods is vegan?
You might have guessed it already: eating a purely plant-based diet means taking a close look at the list of ingredients and informing yourself. Sometimes it is even necessary to contact the manufacturer to get certainty about the ingredients and / or production.
Many are appalled by the list of foods that a vegan no longer eats. In their mind’s eye they see a fully set table, where they have to gradually take everything away and in the end nothing remains – except maybe a glass of water. But of course vegans do not eat grass or stones, as is often jokingly claimed. There are numerous foods that are vegan in and of them and therefore continue to end up on the plate, for example rice or durum wheat pasta.
Bread, on the other hand, is a little trickier. At first glance, you may think its vegan. However, some bread is made with back ferment and this is often made with honey. Such breads are – strictly speaking – no longer vegan.
Fortunately, there are some foods that you can be sure are vegan.
For example, this applies to the following:
- Cereals (e.g. millet, quinoa, rice, oatmeal, bulgur, corn)
- Durum wheat noodles (be careful, there are also some with egg)
- Dried fruit
- Legumes (e.g. beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas)
- Coconut milk
- Agave syrup
- Dark chocolate
- Nutmeg (e.g. from peanuts, cashews, almonds)
- Tahini (Sesammus)
It goes without saying that fruits and vegetables are vegan. However, if you buy a smoothie in the supermarket, you should check whether milk products or honey have been added.
The list of vegan ingredients doesn’t end with the foods mentioned above. There are many others, but most are less known.
These include, for example:
- Plant-based dairy products (e.g. from oats, almonds, rice, soy)
- Seitan (a meat alternative made from wheat protein)
- dried soy
To make shopping easier for vegans, some products are marked as vegan with a seal or lettering. If this is not the case, then you have to sift through the ingredients yourself for unwanted ingredients.
Incidentally, more and more food producers are taking up the desire for vegan products. You can now find vegan ice creams, vegan spreads, vegan sweets or vegan cheese, sausage and meat alternatives in many German supermarkets.
Is vegan healthy?
Many people associate milk, fish, meat, eggs and cheese with the fact that they are healthy and necessary for a balanced diet, If you do not do this, vitamins and minerals are inevitably missing, so the widespread idea. But is that really true?
Let me turn the thought around: if you eat all these things, you live the other way around healthy and you lack nothing.
This assumption is spoken by the fact that many people suffer from deficiency symptoms or special illnesses due to wrong eating habits. So eating animal products is no guarantee of health, eating vegan, but not either. So that the diet contains all the important nutrients and vitamins, you have to do something about it. Anyone who only consumes fast food and sweets lives unhealthily. It doesn’t matter whether you’re vegan or not.
For example, with a purely plant-based diet, it is necessary to take vitamins D and B12. Vitamin D is mainly found in animal foods, but can be produced by our body itself. All he needs is enough sunlight, and then he produces the hormone himself. However, the sun is not equally strong all year round or the person is not outdoors enough. It can therefore make sense to take vitamin D as tablets, for example.
The same applies to vitamin B12. With this too, it is difficult to cover it purely with plant-based foods. Most vegans therefore take it as a tablet, ampoule or syringe. It is important that it is dosed as high as possible.
Now you could get the idea that it has to be completely unhealthy if you have to add vitamin B12, for example. But the meat eater would also have to feed it if it were not already being fed to the animals. Accordingly, there is too little of it in the food and you take it up just as artificially, but not with the tablet that you swallow yourself, but with the animal that was later swallowed on the plate.
Personal tip from me: Don’t expect it to taste like what you want to replace. Perceive it as something completely new.
So that your vitamin and mineral balance is well covered, you should start at the very beginning vegan food pyramid based. It shows you at a glance which foods you should eat a lot or less.
For example, while you can eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, a serving of 30 g per day is enough for nuts. Also vegetable oils are important to some of the recorded vitamins can ever handle. Your body also needs proteins. This is among other legumes contain, so you should install as regular as possible in your food this. For example, lentils can be used to conjure up not only stews, but also delicious spreads and salads.
How an ideal vegan meal is put together is shown on the vegan diet plate clearly that builds on the food pyramid.
My personal experience with vegan nutrition
At first, it may look like vegans can actually eat nothing but fruits and vegetables. I also had this fear before switching from vegetarian to vegan. The idea of drinking my coffee without milk was a nightmare. And I was sure that I could never do without cheese.
But instead of imposing bans on me, I took it easy. I took the liberty to do one or two exception days a week from the vegan diet if I feel like it. But then I found it so fun trying new things that I found it easy to switch. Today I don’t lack the milk in the coffee or the cheese on the breakfast bread. I now do some spreads myself and experiment with a lot.
Gradually, the supposedly empty dining table overlaps with other delicious things that you may not have known before.