If you’re a patient of medical weight loss, you may have already tried all sorts of ways to lose weight or improve your health on your own. In modern times, new diets, exercises and unusual solutions for problems of all shapes and sizes seem to pop up every day, while the Internet makes accessing this information as simple as typing a Google search and clicking your mouse.
However, the vast majority of silver bullets, miracle cures and quick fixes are exaggerated. The ubiquity of these things provides proof enough that they usually don’t work—why do we need a new miracle cure if the previous one was supposedly so effective?
In the simplistic and immortal words of author and renowned food advocate Michael Pollan, the true secret of the perfect human diet is this: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Despite the dietary hoops that the typical fad diet will have you jumping through, the reality is that the path to both a slimmer waistline and a nutritionally-sound body is to be more mindful of how much we eat and fill our diets with what provides the most nutritional benefit: fruits and veggies.
Veganism: A Logical Choice?
With celebrity endorsements from Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Clinton and the advantage of Pollan’s guileless logic, veganism has caught on as a healthful alternative to the Western diet that has made obesity so prevalent in our culture. Research from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) has shown that those who follow vegetarian and vegan diets have a lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and risk of hypertension, a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, lower cholesterol levels, less body fat and an overall reduced risk of cancer.
Low in saturated fat and cholesterol but high in fiber and crucial minerals like potassium, folate, magnesium and vitamins C and E, the vegan diet has especially clear benefits for patients hoping to lose weight, but its potential value to all people can easily be seen. Though many choose to go vegan for ideological reasons, like reducing the environmental impact and cruelty of widespread animal farming practices, many others choose veganism for the simple fact that it can be a very healthy way to live.
Many people may be scared away from veganism for its stringent dietary demands, but may not see the benefit that these rules have. Because vegans must pay such close attention to every food they eat to avoid animal products, vegans tend to be more mindful of everything they put in their bodies. There’s a discipline among vegans that may not be found among those who subscribe to other diets, but is likely familiar to patients of medical weight loss.
In part, this could be due to the fact that vegans need to make their diets nutritionally balanced. The mere act of avoiding animal products will not make your diet bulletproof on its own. Vegans need to take particular care to get crucial nutrients like protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, calcium and others that may be missed by eschewing animal products.
Still, the ADA’s research has shown that the typical vegetarian or vegan actually consumes more protein than those who eat meat and dairy, proving the power of mindfulness that many vegans possess. Forced to find new plant foods that provide the nutritional value they need, vegans often become brave explorers and try many new foods. Though they may not be able to eat meat, vegans may seek out unusual options like quinoa that provide balanced protein and a ton of other nutrients.
Of course, trying out a whole bunch of new health foods can get expensive, but veganism doesn’t have to be. At its basic level, the vegan diet consists of a mixture of fruits, vegetables, soy foods, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts. Though some of these options can come with a high price tag, especially when you explore so-called superfoods or specialty products aimed expressly at vegan consumers, the cash-conscious vegan can easily thrive on a relatively cheap diet of vegetables, dried beans and simple grains.
If you’re one of the many who have written veganism off as a hippie fascination or celebrity phenomenon, it might be time to reconsider your position. A vegan diet is as nutritious, flavorful and expensive as you make it, but the benefits can be huge.
Have you tried a vegan or vegetarian diet? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.