Deciding to become vegan isn’t a decision that many people take lightly. Some people have been vegans their entire lives due to being raised that way by their parents while others made the conscious choice and decision to become vegan on their own. There are also those that have become vegan due to dietary needs or dietary restrictions.
Becoming vegan is much more than a change in your diet, it’s a change in your entire lifestyle as well.
What does being vegan mean?
Being vegan means that there is no consumption of any type of animal products.
People often get vegans and vegetarians confused but they are actually quite different. Vegetarians don’t eat meat but still may eat items that have meat products in them while vegans strictly stay away from anything containing anything dealing with animals.
What are the benefits of becoming a vegan?
Those who live the vegan lifestyle tend to eat less fat and calories than those who don’t which can aide in staying within a weight goal. Some people say that becoming vegan has helped them feel better overall since they are eating more natural and organic type foods.
The Vegan Food Pyramid
The Vegan Food Pyramid is set up just like the regular food pyramid followed by millions of people from all over the world. The difference? There are no animal or animal products in any of the categories on the vegan food pyramid.
Learning about the vegan food pyramid
There are 5 different areas of the vegan food pyramid to make certain are added to your diet each and every day. The base layer is grains, followed by vegetables, fruit, legumes and nuts and seeds at the very top.
In order to break down the food pyramid, let’s take a look at each section of it to understand what can and should be eaten during the day.
Grain section of the Vegan Food Pyramid
Eating whole grains is an important foundation to the vegan diet and is the biggest and most needed part of the day. Rice, bread, and pasta are all great choices to eat daily from the grain section of the food pyramid. While many people may think that eating cookies or sugary bread may fit into this category, these are not healthy components for a healthy lifestyle or food pyramid. Keep in mind that anything made with sugar or sweets doesn’t fall into any of these categories because foods are altered to become more dessert-like.
Vegetable section of the Vegan Food Pyramid
Vegetables are an extremely important aspect of everyday life. Keep in mind that as long as vegetables are being consumed, they can be eaten either raw or cooked. Steaming vegetables, grilling vegetables and even baking them are all a great way to get your daily veggie intakes while also potentially bringing out some new flavors as well. Green beans, spinach, salad, and broccoli are all great contenders to include into your daily diet.
Fruit section of the Vegan Food Pyramid
Fruits can actually have a dual role in the life of a vegan. Eating fresh fruit or dried fruit is great for the overall health of your body, but keep in mind that fruit is also a wonderful way to kick that sweet tooth craving as well!
If you feel as though you just have to have something sweet, grabbing some dried or fresh fruit can help overcome and combat those urges and feelings. Dried prunes, fried apples, and even dates are a great way to feel as though you’re eating something sweet when you’re fueling your body with good, sweet fruit instead of overly sugary carbs and processed foods.
Legumes section of the Vegan Food Pyramid
Don’t forget the beans! Since you aren’t consuming meat or other animal products, you’ll need to make certain that you’re fueling up with beans, tofu or even lentils to get the protein that your body needs.
This is one portion that vegans tend to overlook in the beginning stages of becoming vegan because bodies do need protein to function and stay healthy. While the protein doesn’t have to come from animals, you do have to introduce outside food into your body that can give you that protein.
Nuts and seeds section of the Vegan Food Pyramid
Introducing nuts into your diet is good, but just be careful about the number of nuts. Nuts and seeds, in general, are typically very high in calories, so this can have an effect on your weight and caloric intake if you are eating too much from this category. (hence the reason why it’s at the top of the food pyramid and not at the bottom)
Most nuts are fine to eat during the day but just make certain that you’re always reading the ingredients of the nuts that you’re eating if they aren’t raw. Some are fried in oils which can increase the caloric intake as well.
How many calories should you be eating daily on the vegan diet?
Understand this. Every single person is different.
While there are different levels an amounts of calories that are set forth by doctors and physicians that “blanket” sexes and ages, you also need to remember that your calories and your food intake are what fuels your body. In knowing this, make certain that whatever calories you are choosing to eat are calories that your body can then burn and use.
Eating a piece of cake that is 500 calories is way different than eating 500 calories worth of raw veggies and nuts. Your body would be able to burn and use much more of the nuts and veggies than it would of the cake.
Understanding the Vegan Food Pyramid is important when you are living a vegan lifestyle.
While it may be a little different to get used to in the beginning, overall it isn’t all that different from a regular food pyramid except for the fact that it’s omitting out the meat products.
Ultimately, you know your body and your food needs and using the Vegan Food Pyramid as a basis and guide is an excellent well to fuel your body with delicious and healthy food options.