miércoles, 12 de noviembre de 2008


The vegetarian lifestyle has been promoted alongside the green lifestyle for the last several years. However, the vegan lifestyle has recently gained the spotlight — for better or for worse.

Vegans don’t eat meat, dairy products, eggs, honey or any foods with any type of animal remnants — they only eat food of plain origin, according to passionatevegetarian.com

Due to the strict diet options, the vegan choice may be considered the most demanding of any lifestyle, whether it be vegan, vegetarian, lacto-ovo, pescetarian, vegetarian sympathizing or carnivore.

All the facts and information for such a decision must be researched, and talking to a professional nutritionist, dietitian or doctor is suggested, according to Karen Moses, the director of wellness and health promotion at ASU (Arizona State University). Also, at Campus Health Services at ASU, students can schedule an appointment with a dietitian.

“There are many cookbooks available and Web sites dedicated to strictly vegan recipes,” says Caitlin Joseph, a secondary education and biology senior.

Joseph is president of the VegAware club at ASU. “ Vegweb.com is my favorite [vegan Web site]. Changing Hands Bookstore has a lot of vegetarian cookbooks for cheap prices,” Joseph says.

There are benefits and risks associated with the most extreme vegetarian lifestyle, but this is true for any life-changing decision.

Risks of becoming vegan include an inadequate intake of certain vitamins that cannot be found easily or at all in plant-based foods such as the vitamin B-12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, riboflavin and protein, according to Moses.

“Some groups suggest that vegans may have increased protein requirements because of the lower digestibility of plant proteins. However, some research studies suggest that there is not a need for increased protein in the diet for vegans,” Moses says.

Therefore, it is up to the discretion of vegans to decide about their protein intake.

Some possible protein sources can be found in tofu and other soy-based products, legumes, seeds, nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers, according to sites for the FDA Consumer and www.happycow.net

Certain vegetables, fruits and grains should be consumed in order to ensure an appropriate iron intake as well, especially for women during menstruation.

Without enough iron and B-12 in a vegan diet, there can be a risk of anemia and irreversible nerve deterioration, according to www.living-foods.com

If the risks are adhered to, then the vegan lifestyle can be a healthy choice.

“It is certainly possible to choose a vegan eating style and be healthy. [However], there are certain practices that a person should include in a vegan eating style to ensure that they receive all the nutrients needed for good health,” Moses says.

Moses gives some of her own tips to avoid risks associated with going vegan.

“It would probably benefit vegans to take a daily multivitamin supplement designed for vegans, and to ensure they eat plenty of legumes for protein, e.g. soy protein,” Moses says.

One factor to take in consideration when going vegan is that not all plant-based and vegan foods are low in fat and calories.

“Oils and frying and other sources of fat in the diet — even though it’s from a vegetable source — add calories,” Beverly McCoy, a family nurse practitioner and clinic manager at ASU’s Polytechnic Campus, says.

Another possible risk associated with the vegan lifestyle is the loss of energy and inability to participate in vigorous activities.

Without the necessary nutrients and vitamins, anyone can have a difficult time with energy loss and physical activity. However, there is no reason why vegans who are knowledgeable about their diet should have problems.

“A vegan diet can meet energy needs for exercise and daily activities,” Moses says.

Some benefits of becoming vegan include “offer[ing] many of the substances that preserve health, and lack many of the substances implicated in heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases of this era,” Moses says.

Other benefits include the decreased likelihood of becoming overweight and a lower rate for cardiovascular disease, according to Moses.

Despite the benefits, there is also the issue of many vegan-friendly foods costing more than regular foods. Various vegan foods found at specialty stores tend to be high priced, but basic vegan foods like rice and beans are generally cheap, especially in bulk.

“If you look at the menu at Chipotle, for example, a vegetarian burrito with beans and rice and veggies is about a dollar or more cheaper than a meat burrito and provides sufficient amounts of protein and other nutrients with even less saturated fat and sodium,” Joseph says.

Opinions of people on the vegan diet will generally differ, regardless of what information is available to support or reject the vegan lifestyle.

“The healthiest eating style for most people will be mostly plant-based,” Moses says. However, she said that low-fat dairy products, fish, white meat from poultry and lean meat are healthy to consume in small quantities.

“[A healthy diet] can be achieved without the fats, sugars, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that are in many meat and animal food products,” Joseph says.


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