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  • 4 min read
Maintaining a vegan diet is not just about concern for animal welfare, although abstaining from the exploitation of animals in the food, beauty and fashion industry plays a big part for some people. You can accomplish so much more, for yourself, as well as doing your part to make the world a better place, by changing the way you eat.

1. It tastes good

A vegan diet isn't all about living on kale and grains, although you can eat as many of these as you like if you are so inclined! Giving up meat and dairy products does not mean you have to miss out on foods such as ice cream, burgers and to join in at BBQs! As the demand for vegan substitutes rises, companies are coming out with more meat-free, and dairy-free produce that taste and look very close to the real thing. Be wary of processed food, though, even processed vegan food can be very unhealthy and contain ingredients such as preservatives, sugar and salt. Don't just replace your animal products with junk food; this can lead to uncontrolled hunger, weight gain and a grumpier mood.

2. It's easier than you think

Switching to a vegan diet will not happen overnight. It's a bit like making the switch to green beauty; you can change one product at a time as your current product runs out. Start by adding more plant-based products to your diet as you reduce your animal produce, especially non-organic and refined foods. Make gradual changes, a simple way to do it is to remove one food group at a time. Start with fish, then dairy, white meat and then red meat, for example. You will not suddenly wake up in the morning a vegan, so don't be too hard on yourself. banner_22Feb17_4

3. For your health

One question you may hear over and over again is "can you get enough of what your body needs on a plant-based diet?" The answer is, yes you can. Here are some simple food swaps to get the nutrients you need:
  • Protein - Eliminating meat from your diet will remove a large dose of your daily protein intake. You can substitute meat with foods such as black beans, tofu, nuts, broccoli and quinoa all of which contain protein.
  • Omega 3 - Mostly sourced from fish, you can replace this source with walnuts or flaxseed.
  • Calcium - Found in dairy products usually sourced from cow's milk, there are several other ways to keep your bones strong and healthy. Collard greens, kale, broccoli, beans, sesame tahini, soybeans, planted-based milk, figs and almonds are all an excellent source of calcium.
  • Iron - this is an easy one! You will find plenty of iron in spinach, so start adding these green leaves to salads, pasta dishes or curries to up your intake. Other iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, chickpeas, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, and grains such as quinoa.
  • Magnesium - Aiding in the absorption of calcium, this essential nutrient is also present in nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens.
  • Vitamin A & E - Vegans will often have good skin health; this is due to the dose of vitamins A and E they consume from vegetables. You may also notice a reduction in blemishes as a vegan and your hair, body and nails to feel stronger due to this nutritional intake.
  • Vitamin B12 - This is very commonly found in animal products and is harder to come by in a vegan diet. Vegans are advised to get their B12 levels checked, it can be found in fortified soy milk, but it is advisable to top your levels up with a supplement.
Following a healthy, balanced vegan diet can ensure a host of health benefits, such as having a lot more energy, more youthful looking skin, normal blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a reduced risk of developing more severe health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

4. Healthy weight loss

Aside from benefiting nutritionally from a vegan diet, healthy weight loss can also be typical of a smart vegan diet. You can attribute much of your weight loss to the fact you will be eliminating the unhealthy foods found in a typical everyday diet that can cause weight issues. banner_22Feb17_2

5. Animal welfare

The best way to do your part in saving animals and to prevent suffering is to swap meat, eggs and dairy products to meat-free alternatives and adopt a plant-based diet. For many vegans, this will be the most obvious way to stand against animal cruelty. Vegans seek high standards of any living (non-human) animal; this includes 'The Five Freedoms': the freedom from hunger, from pain, injury and disease, from discomfort, fear and distress and to be able to express natural behaviour.

6. Environment

Making the switch to a vegan diet may have more of an impact on the environment than you may think. Around the world, the production of meat places a heavy burden on our environment. A vast amount of crops are grown worldwide to feed animals; this is not only a significant contributor to deforestation, habitat loss for animals and endangering entire species, it also takes out of the mouths of poverty stricken populations. According to The Vegan Society, in Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land alone is used to grow soybeans, land which can be utilised by people to grow food for themselves. These points are just a few examples of how a vegan benefit can help both you and the planet. There are many other reasons to adopt this lifestyle, the best way to find out if this is for you, is to try it!

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