by Matt Weik
Vegan has become one of the hot buzzwords these days. Don’t believe me? Go search around on Instagram, and you’ll see it in plenty of bios. Each day more and more people are shifting towards a vegan diet for various reasons such as health, environmental concerns, animal welfare, and many more.
According to The Economist, in 2015, only 3.4% of Americans were vegetarians, of those, only 0.4% were vegans.
As per a study published by the Vegetarian Times Magazine, the percentage of vegans in the USA is rising fast. The percentage of vegans in the US went up from 0.4% to almost 3.5% in the last two years.
Currently, there are approximately 9.7 million people in the USA following a vegetarian diet, of which around 1 million people lead a purely vegan lifestyle.
Now you might be wondering if there is any real difference between a vegan and vegetarian diet? And the answer is “yes.”
A vegan diet is actually part of a vegetarian diet and lifestyle. Or we can say that veganism is the minority of another minority, for example, vegetarianism. It’s like the CrossFit of the fitness community. Though both vegans and vegetarians do not consume meat and fish, a vegan diet is stricter as compared to a vegetarian diet.
A vegetarian consumes grains, plant-based protein sources, nuts, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and dairy products, whereas a vegan avoids consuming any animal products or byproducts altogether.
Let’s take a closer look at the vegan diet, its benefits, and the various types.
What is a Vegan Diet?
More than a diet, veganism is a lifestyle choice. A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet that contains only plant-based foods, and all the food options from animal sources are excluded. Keeping in mind the environmental benefits, people who choose a vegan diet also generally avoid clothes, soaps, and many other products that are made from animals and their byproducts.
What are the Benefits of a Vegan Diet?
Below are some of the main reasons why people choose to follow a vegan diet and lifestyle.
1. Nutrient-Rich Diet
A balanced vegan diet includes fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, and various other plant-based foods. The diet is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help to maintain and promote overall health. Also, a vegan diet helps with improving the metabolic rate while also eliminating many harmful toxins and chemicals from the body.
2. Promotes Heart Health
A vegan diet helps in reducing the risk of heart disease as it contains low saturated fat and cholesterol. Food items like meat contain saturated fat that can contribute to potential heart problems. Therefore, cutting those foods out of their diet can actually help lower the chances of strokes.
3. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Plant-based foods are free from cholesterol. High cholesterol levels restrict the blood flow that may lead to heart disease. So, switching to a vegan diet can help in avoiding all of those types of issues.
4. Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
A vegan diet helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Apart from that, it also helps avoid the risk associated with diabetes from factors such as obesity. Moving to a vegan diet and lifestyle may help you to shred a few pounds simply by shifting away from certain unhealthy foods you may have consumed in the past.
Different Types of the Vegan Diet
Here is where things can get a little shuffled in the mix when talking about a vegan diet. It seems like using the term “vegan diet” is an umbrella statement. There are actually many different types of vegan diets that are utilized by many. Below are some examples of what you may encounter if you ask different people about their vegan diet.
1. Raw Food Vegan Diet
A raw food vegan diet contains raw fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and other raw plant foods that are basically cooked below the temperature of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Whole Food Vegan Diet
The whole food vegan diet is entirely based on plant-based foods like whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables, etc.
3. The Starch Solution Diet
This type of diet mainly focuses on food that contains starches like potatoes, corn, rice, etc. It is a low-fat and high-carb vegan diet.
4. 80/10/10 Diet
This type of diet is also known as a low-fat or fruitarian diet. It majorly consists of raw fruits and soft greens and utilizes healthy fats from things such as avocados.
5. The Thrive Diet
The Thrive Diet is one that utilizes plant-based food that is either raw or minimally cooked.
6. Raw Till 4
This type of diet is inspired by the Starch Solution Diet and 80/10/10. Here the raw foods are consumed until 4 pm with a choice of having cooked food for dinner.
7. Junk Food Vegan Diet
This type of diet contains vegan desserts, cheese, and other processed vegan food.
Which is Right for You?
Unfortunately, that’s a loaded question and not one that we can push onto you. Only you know which vegan diet is right for you. Maybe you combine bits and pieces from many of them into your lifestyle? It’s completely up to you.
Moving to more of a vegan diet may seem to be daunting initially, but with so many simple and tasty options available, it will get easier. But make sure to include all the key nutrients like vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium, and others that people consume in animal products.