Last day, good friend of mine asked me how come lots of people that are vegan are still overweight. A very interesting question. People often connect being vegan to living healthy, saving the animals, keeping care of the environment and so on. Many vegans, especially in the west are often overweight. Let’s talk about the major reasons for that.
- Not eating enough protein
- Processed foods
- Soy products
- Too many carbs and sugar
The main problem with a vegan diet is, that people tackle it the wrong way. People start looking for meat replacement which they find in soy products. Soy products are not healthy for you, since all soy is genetically modified, the only exception is if you have access to quality organic soy which is GMO free. You also have to eat more, since your food isn’t as rich in protein, as is a diet that includes meat.
Getting quality protein is also a challenge with a vegan diet, especially if you are into sports, and you live a very active lifestyle. Best protein sources on a vegan diet are tofu, nuts, beans, lentils … For example, 1 egg has 13g of protein, 1/2 half cup of lentils has 8.84g of protein. If I eat two eggs for breakfast, that is 26g of protein. I would have to eat 1 and 1/2+ cups of lentil to make up that protein. Counting in the costs, you pay more for good organic lentils than for free-range eggs.
Vegans tend to eat a lot of bread, pasta – unhealthy carbs in general. The whole wheat alternatives are healthier, but more expensive. You also compensate with carbs, because you don’t have fish, meat or any other protein source on your plate.
When should you consider going vegan ?
As I stated above, going vegan can be very healthy for you, if you do it the right way. The majority of your meals should consist out of veggies and fruit with legumes as your main source of protein, mix some nuts in there as well. If you have access to organic soy, even better. You should consider that going vegan takes a lot of preparing and time-investment. Being vegan really is more a lifestyle than a diet. The biggest downside to me, personally, is the time investment and planning.
You can’t go out to dinner to every place you want. Many restaurants serve terrible vegan food of low quality. You never know if the vegan menus are really made separate, it’s very time-consuming, especially in the western world. You also have to consider taking some food supplements, that will cost you extra. Many vegans don’t, but I don’t know much about that topic, so research it on your own.
In short, if you are on a budget, have a busy schedule, have a physically demanding job, I don’t recommend you going vegan.
The best way of going vegan is if you grow your own food, especially grains and veggies. If you are a farmer, have your own piece of land to grow veggies, or know some farmers. That way you have access to quality foods, that are unprocessed and have all the nutrients you need.
As I stated before going vegan in the western world is not that great, because the quality of food, especially of soy products, is very low. You also have to consider that in the winter time, in many of the Northern Hemisphere areas, you have limited access to fresh local veggies and fruits. Yes, you can buy groceries at the supermarket, but it’s not the same quality as fresh, I always recommend eating fresh food.
Now if you live in Asia, Australia, Oceania, Southern America, you have access to fresh food all over the year. You can eat fruits, veggies all around the year, that makes its much easier going vegan. Parts of Asia, like India, Pakistan have great vegan dishes, and access to great soy products. People from Asia told me, that soy milk from South Korea or Japan is miles better than soy milk from Europe.
I would recommend going Vegan if you live in a warmer climate, if not, be prepared to have a bigger food budget. Your schedule is not that busy, you can plan your day for multiple meals.
You have many superstar athletes that go vegan (Novak Djoković, Chris Paul)but the thing you have to consider is, they have access to the best quality food. Their lifestyle is training their body, and they live off that. People that work a 9 to 5 job don’t have the time, neither the resources to buy the best quality of food. So if you are heavy into sports, going vegan and doing it the right way is definitely going to help you yield better results. Be prepared to invest some money and additional preparation.
In short the answer is yes, if you have the lifestyle, the finances to do it the right way.