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Bridging the Gulf for Vegans: Transcending Nutritional Deficiencies in Plant Based Diet Systems

Well balanced vegan diets are deemed suitable for all phases of life, including during infancy and pregnancy according to the American academy of nutrition and dietetics and the Harvard school of medicine.

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With World Vegan Day being celebrated on the 1st of November, Veganism is the deliberate practice of refraining from the use of all animal based products especially in diet. Well balanced vegan diets are deemed suitable for all phases of life, including during infancy and pregnancy according to the American academy of nutrition and dietetics and the Harvard school of medicine. 

Plant based diets  essentially revolve around grains and other seeds, legumes (especially beans), fruits, vegetables, edible mushrooms and nuts. Milk and egg are replaced by plant based milks such as soy milk, almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk etc and tofu respectively.

Medical researchers have revealed that a plant based  diet may bring down the risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and coronary artery disease. While vegan diets are replete with higher amounts of dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C and E, iron and phytochemicals, they tend to be lacking in dietary energy, saturated fat, cholesterol, long chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12. Vegans ought to chart out their diet with proper planning and balance so as to overcome the inherent nutritional inadequacies which may otherwise negate the benefits of a vegan diet.

Therefore it is important to follow a vegan lifestyle guide so as to gain maximum benefits out of the vegan diet. This includes the following:-

●      Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in such a way there is an explosion of contrasting colors on the plate. Different colors denote different nutrients

●      Vegans should include plant based protein sources in their food like legumes, peas, peanuts, black beans and grains such as quinoa, brown rice, corn barley etc. They can also include a plant protein supplement as majority of the people in India miss on this basic macronutrient

●      Select high fiber starchy foods such as oats, sweet potato, wholemeal bread and pasta and brown rice 

●      Consume seeds and nuts on an everyday basis as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acid.

●      Food that is rich in calcium such as fortified plant milk, kale, collards and raw garlic as a normal vegan diet faces increased risk of calcium deficiency as compared to vegetarians and meat eaters.

●      Vitamin D is a major nutrient that is primarily absent from regular vegan diets and must be supplemented through fortified foods or plant based dietary supplements

●      Vegan diets usually have trace amounts of iron and zinc due to the limited bioavailability of these minerals

●      Make sure that there are enough dietary substitutes for vitamin b12 and iodine in a vegan diet either through fortified foods or supplements

●      Practitioners of a vegan lifestyle ought to go for full body health checkups after every six months or so as to cover ground regarding any nutritional deficiencies

Veganism is slowly spreading across the planet due to the irrefutable positive impact that it has on the environment. Plant based diet while being favored by the human digestive system due to its relatively easier assimilation also leads to less environmental and economic degradation. 



 


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