So, it’s 2022, and the pandemic is over; hopefully over for good. If you’re like hundreds of millions of other people on earth, you probably spent some of your lockdown time considering ways you could improve your immune system and overall general health.
Research unambiguously supports the idea that eating a mostly – if not exclusively – plant-based diet is the smartest plan for everything from maintaining a healthy body weight to healthy aging. That’s why, according to vegan statistics, tens of millions of people have come to the inescapable conclusion that they are going to have to go vegan.
For some folks, the transition is simple. One day they’re eating chicken nuggets, and the next day they’re happily munching on tofu and beets. For others, however, it’s not quite so simple. Some worry about getting enough nutrition, while others become sad at the idea of never being able to enjoy a juicy steak again.
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Well, we’re here to tell you that 1, getting enough nutrition as a vegan is relatively simple if you know what you’re doing, and 2, you won’t have to give up the juicy textures and flavors of the meat.
Some readers are wondering if the last sentence was a typo, while others are wondering if the next sentence is going to be something promoting a new veggie burger that “tastes really good,” according to some reviews.
No, it wasn’t a typo. And yes, we are talking about meat substitutes…but nothing you’ve seen or tasted before. Startup companies primarily based in Israel have convinced enough venture capitalists to fund them and gotten enough experts on board – including food scientists, computer programmers, butchers, barbecue experts, and many others – and created vegan meat. Alt meat could be described as a new species.
Many find animal meat delicious for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that it has a range of mouthfeel sensations as you eat it. One spot might be a little tougher while another spot melts in your mouth – one area will have a bit of fat, while another area will have more muscle.
And so that’s what the startup companies are doing – recreating exactly those elements of meat. It’s being done with AI algorithms and special 3D printers that create layers of ‘alternative’ everything: ‘alternative fat,’ ‘alternative muscle,’ etc. When this is distributed across the piece of vegan meat with the aid of AI software, the result is astonishing.
So honestly, you won’t have to suffer too much even if you’re really fond of meat as this technology is getting better by the day – and also cheaper. Before long, it won’t be surprising if even die-hard meat lovers choose the plant-based version because it’s cheaper, healthier, and readily available.
So, now that we’ve alleviated the “missing meat” concern what about the nutritional aspects? You’re replacing meat, poultry, and seafood as well as – if you’re going full vegan – dairy products. How do you get enough calcium? How do you get enough protein?
Well, for starters, many of the fears folks have about protein and other nutritional concerns related to veganism are generally unfounded. It’s pretty easy to get what you need from simply eating healthy fresh vegetables. Food made with soybeans can become a common vegan choice (and it should be noted that research suggests soy is safe). But research also shows there are plenty of other plants offering similar nutrients.
Some simple online research will help you come up with recipe ideas for home vegan cooking. Take potatoes, for example. For a non-vegan, potatoes might be seen as starch that adds to their waistline, but for a vegan, potatoes are a huge source of potassium. Potatoes have more potassium than bananas and are also a good source of iron and vitamins – while also being fat-free.
Figs have as much or more calcium as milk, but figs beat milk by also being a good source of fiber. They do have a lot of sugar and pack a lot of calories, so you probably don’t want to overindulge – but figs solve your calcium problem immediately. And that’s just one of many options.
Various berries are going to be important sources of vitamins and nutrition, and these include blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries which are actually not berries but rather tiny fruit clumps that grow together.
And speaking of things that are or are not fruit: tomatoes are fruit, as are avocados, while bananas, grapes, and kiwis are berries. Of course, it doesn’t matter if they are berries or fruit – what does matter is that these common yet delicious natural fruits and berries are well more than enough to sustain you in the vitamin department.
If you have concerns, you should speak with a professional dietitian or doctor before beginning your vegan quest, but don’t let perceived hardship get in the way of what is almost certainly one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
Ditching meat – especially bacon, deli meat, or hot dogs – immediately has a positive effect on your cholesterol, and you will soon likely experience less overall inflammation. Your gut as a vegan will hopefully be filled with fiber-rich foods that are perfect homes for good bacteria, which again helps lower inflammation and reduce bowel trouble.
Those who say they tried being vegan but were just too tired all the time likely didn’t get enough iron and protein – both of which give us energy. And while it may be true that the body has evolved to absorb more iron from animal meat than from other foods, animal products are not the only choice.
You can get tons of protein from beans, seeds, nuts, soy, lentils, and green leafy veggies – especially spinach. But if your doctor or dietitian suggests doing so and you agree, some vegans do take a multivitamin or a supplement to boost iron levels.
Good luck on your journey to lower cholesterol, lower risk of diabetes, better overall health, and even more money in your pocketbook. One report indicated that you can get 2,000 calories of fruit and veggies for under US$3 a day.
All tolled up, going vegan has a whole lot of pros and very few cons.