Foods That Help Depression and Anxiety: Plant-Based

17th January 2021By DZ TeamGoing Vegan, Self-Improvement

Foods That Help Depression and Anxiety - Vegan and Plant-Based

Plant-Based Diet Tips to Combat Depression

In this article we will share some foods that help depression. We also provide some useful general tips to help you improve your overall well-being.

Mental illness is one of the most actively increasing threats to public health, out of which depression and anxiety disorders are rising rapidly. It is proven that diet is correlated with all such diseases. An 18-month study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion stated that a plant-based diet might alleviate depression and anxiety. It also conveyed that specific nutrients help reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.

To find out more about foods that help depression, please read on! ๐Ÿ™‚

Vegan Food Recipes are Super Quick and Delicious

A growing body of research shows that eating whole rich diet, plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains may not only help prevent major depression and anxiety, but also treat it once it has started. Striving to eat a plant-based diet doesnโ€™t have to be boring! ๐Ÿ™‚

You can get portion of greens daily by adding them to soups, smoothies, juices, curries, pasta dishes or simply a good old-fashioned side of steamed greens to retain content of both magnesium and B vitamins.

Boosts Your Mood

Vegan and plant-based foods are a rich supplier of vitamins and nutrients that helps fight illnesses. For example, Vitamin C stimulates your body to produce antibodies and white blood cells that strengthen the immune system to ward off diseases. At the same time, Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that helps combat infections. Thus, a healthy body with lower chances of illness puts you in a good mood without making you feel lethargic or miserable any longer.

Better Quality of Sleep and Reduced Stress

Our bodies demand sleep to rest, restore and to reduce the chances of health issues like elevated blood pressure, and Alzheimer's disease. Magnesium and calcium maintain a more regulated sleeping cycle. In addition to this, the release of serotonin calms your brain. Also, antioxidants found in vitamins A, C and E reduce free-radical damage, at the time of stress. A study published in the Nutritional Journal found showed that participants levels of stress decreased after just two weeks.

 

Foods That Help Depression and Anxiety-Plant-Basedโ€“Diet Zest Blog

List of The Foods That Help Depression

Leafy green vegetables are the nutrient substations. It also comprises several vitamins and minerals. The rich content of folic acid and iron present in these vegetables protects you against dementia and depression.

All nuts and seeds contain tryptophan that is converted into serotonin inside the body. Although different nuts like cashews, Brazil nuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and hazelnuts effectively enhance omega-3 fats. Walnuts are the highest plant-based sources of omega-3, takes over as they support the entire brain's health by keeping the blood sugar level stabilized. A 2019 study found that depression scores remained 26% lower among those who consumed nearly 1/4 cup of walnuts every day. Thus, nuts and seeds are also considered one of the best foods that help depression.

Brazil nut- These are the richest source of selenium. People deficient in selenium usually feel depressed and anxious. Thus, two Brazil nuts per day help restore your mental well-being.

Mushrooms are one of the few sources of the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D for the vegans with minimal tryptophan levels.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and calcium, which helps lower blood pressure and maintain a proper sleep cycle.

Turmeric contains the chemical curcumin, which shows many similar properties to pharmaceutical drugs used to handle anxiety disorders.

Bananas contain rich content of serotonin, for mood balancing and daily body functioning. They also contain Vitamin C and potassium, which enhances nerve and muscle health.

Avocados comprises of almost 20 minerals and vitamins. It also contains tryptophan that promotes a good mood.

Beans and legumes are excellent sources of fiber, vitamins, and protein along with folate and polyphenols that help maintain a healthy gut.

Foods to Avoid

Sugar and processed food are great contributors to anxiety and depression, resulting in inflammation throughout the body and brain. The quick pick me ups- a cup of coffee and processed food stands in for a complete breakfast, and healthy fresh fruits and vegetables replaced by high fat and high-calorie fast foods. This cycle needs to be cracked by incorporating healthy and tasty plant-based Foods That Help Depression.

You can check out some of our recipe ideas and our Personalised Grocery List service.

Also, why not consider joining our communityย  - โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement.

Save Earth: Stop Eating Meat!

10th January 2021By DZ TeamEnvironment

Save Earth: Stop Eating Meat!

Let's Save Our Planet

You may be asking yourself; how can I save Earth by giving up meat? Well, we are going to explain, so read on!

Meat has always been a part of the diet of the majority of humans on Earth. However, we never really consumed it the way we do today. In the past, meat was a food to only be consumed on special occasions, and most families only had it on Sundays. The rest of their diet was made up of vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, and other plants. Eating meat also usually wasnโ€™t an easy feat. It had to be hunted for, or the family had to kill their own livestock.

Contrasting that to today, when we have meat readily available to us 24/7, and some people have it on their plate several times per day. One canโ€™t help but wonder what impact this change has had on the planet we live on.

Getting meat onto our plate is as easy as walking into a supermarket and picking it up off a shelf โ€“ and thatโ€™s exactly what most people do! However, this change doesnโ€™t come without its consequences, especially when it comes to impact on mother nature. Knowing this, what can we do to save Earth from our new consumption patterns?

Save Earth - Stop Eating Meat โ€“ Diet Zest Article

The environmental footprint of meat

Meat pollutes the planet in many different aspects. This is why we have divided its impact into categories of environmental issues and challenges.

Contribution to climate change

Meat has a remarkably high carbon footprint. In fact, data from Our World in Data shows that it isnโ€™t as much where our food comes from that affects our carbon footprint, but what the food is. In meat, many factors contribute to the carbon footprint, but none are as unavoidable as the digestive system of animals.

You may be wondering why it is that beef, lamb, and mutton have by far the highest carbon footprint of all foods. This is because cows and sheep produce methane as they digest (a fast-acting greenhouse gas), thatโ€™s very dangerous in the short run.

Deforestation and habitat destruction

To make space for all the food for livestock, rainforests are often being cut down and replaced with fields to cultivate livestock feed. Rainforests arenโ€™t just places of outstanding natural beauty. They are also home to a wide variety of plants and animals going extinct because of deforestation. Often, other foods get mistakenly blamed for this process, when in fact, animal agriculture is one of the leading causes!

Take this, for example โ€“ one common crop known for being cultivated in areas where rainforests had been cut down, is soy. However, did you know that most of this soy (80%) is fed to livestock?

 

Cause of future pandemics

Most of us donโ€™t remember an occurrence that would negatively impact our lives as much as the COVID-19 pandemic. Did you know that three-quarters of new diseases humans are affected by come from animals?

Factory farms increase the likelihood of disease spreading from animals to humans, but so do other practices associated with meat production. Mainly, itโ€™s the deforestation process caused by the need for livestock feed. As humans are cutting down forests, they come into contact with wild species, some of which could be carrying highly infectious diseases.

While this isnโ€™t strictly an environmental issue, the pandemic has also had a negative impact on the environment. This is due to the increased need for single-use plastic or increase in food waste.

Canโ€™t we just eat organic?

Eating organic, grass-fed meat is often used as an alternative and referred to as more sustainable and ethical. So, canโ€™t we just switch to organic meats to resolve the issue?

The short answer is no. Now, here is the long answer. Grass-fed, organic meat takes a lot more land to produce. This is because the animals need space to run around outside. This is much better for the animals. However, there simply isnโ€™t enough land on Earth to sustain the demand animal agriculture is receiving now. If we want to reduce our impact on the environment and save Earth, we will need to reduce our consumption. Just switching to a more ethical and eco-friendly source is not enough.

Additionally, eating organic doesnโ€™t decrease environmental threats related to meat production at all. For example, all cows will always produce methane as they digest. This cannot be reduced by producing beef organically.

How to stop eating meat?

If you are someone who doesnโ€™t really enjoy meat in the first place, you may find going vegetarian a piece of cake. However, as we all have different likes and dislikes, you may also be someone who eats meat daily, and canโ€™t imagine giving it up. While in that scenario, it may be a little harder for you to stop eating meat, itโ€™s not impossible. It actually makes for a more rewarding experience in the end! ๐Ÿ™‚

In order to save earth, the first thing to keep in mind is that you donโ€™t need to stop eating meat overnight. If youโ€™re someone who doesnโ€™t want to see any more meat after finding out about its environmental impact, certainly do so. However, if you donโ€™t do well with sudden changes (as most of us donโ€™t), eliminate one type of meat at a time, until youโ€™ve stopped eating meat completely. For example, dedicate your first month to quitting red and processed meats. Next, give up chicken and other poultry in the second month. Then, dedicate the third month to eliminating fish and seafood from your diet. Lastly, give up any hidden meat, such as gelatine, in your last month.

There are plant-based alternatives to meat available in many stores โ€“ make use of them to satisfy your cravings. No, they are not going to taste exactly the same, but plant-based food manufacturers are making more progress every day. Keep an open mind and experiment with what you can find in the vegetarian section of the supermarket.

Summing Up

Lastly, always keep in mind why youโ€™ve decided to stop eating meat โ€“ to save Earth. Yes, some steps are going to be challenging, but always keep the end goal in mind!

If you need help to take your next step into a meat free lifestyle, why not check out our Personalised Grocery List service.

We'd also be delighted to have you join our community - our amazing โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement!

Vegan Foods List for Veganuary

4th January 2021By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

Vegan Foods List for Veganuary

Happy Veganuary!

Start your Veganuary off with this helpful vegan foods list, so you can walk in the grocery store with confidence!

Itโ€™s Veganuary again! Itโ€™s time to start the year off with wholesome plant-food goodness. Whether you are already vegan, transitioning, or just trying it out, this helpful vegan foods list will give you some great ideas on what to shop for. Our vegan foods list will provide you with a great variety to make your meals amazing, and not miss out on any nutrients. You will feel better and start your year off great, with nutrient rich food to fuel your body.

 

How to step up your Veganuary

One of the best ways you can fire up your vegan game is by trying out many different plant-based whole foods. This means food that comes in its natural unprocessed form. Nothing is added or taken away. These can be foods like lentils, fruit, vegetables, oats, nuts, and seeds. Make sure to try out new recipes that look interesting and enjoyable for you.

Of course, if you have favorite meat substitutes like veggie sausages, smoked tofu, veggie burgers, keep them. These foods are still tasty, and if they make your vegan experience enjoyable, all the better. However, it is good to use them moderately as many are quite high in salt, refined fats, and other ingredients. The idea is to make veganism fun and delicious. However, make sure to include whole foods with them. They should be a gateway food to more plant-based foods.

Health perks

Plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants and can reduce inflammation in the body. Why is this important? When our body lacks antioxidants, there is an imbalance of free radicals. These free radicals (while necessary for immune and healing functions) can wreak havoc on the body over time. This leads to inflammation which can damage the DNA in our cells, leading to cancer growth.

Plant-based food also has an abundance of fiber. Fiber is paramount, given the statistic that 97% of Americans are fiber deficient. Moreover, fiber is both great and necessary for human health. It keeps our digestive system running smooth, it keeps our heart working at its best, and it keeps us fuller, which can help metabolism and manage weight.

Eating a plant-based diet can improve our longevity, prevent heart disease, diabetes, promote healthy cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels. This can prevent many debilitating and costly conditions, as well as many needless deaths.

Benefits for the environment

Veganuary is gaining popularity due to the lockdowns, people trying new things, and increasing concerns for the environment. A record 400 000 people signed up to the Veganuary pledge last year. This is followed by 250,000 in 2019, and 170,000 in 2018. Restaurant closures have also forced people to cook more at home.

Eating a diverse plant-based diet helps the environment by encouraging a more diverse food supply. Much of the agriculture on the planet is dedicated to growing single crops. A lot of it isn't even for us, but instead is for feeding livestock.

By eating a plant-based diet, you skip the middleman. The food comes straight from the ground to the plate. Eating seasonal and local can help by reducing carbon footprints, getting fresher tastier, and nutrient rich food. It can also help your local farmers with much needed revenue to put back into their businesses and into the local economy.

Try to keep in mind when using the vegan foods list to shop in season. Try to buy local produce whenever possible. If you have farmers markets in your town or city, this makes it so easy to do both. The money goes straight to the farmers making it more profitable to have markets like these.

 

Vegan Foods List for Veganuary - Diet Zest Article

Getting the most out of your food

When using your vegan food list, it is good to shop and eat with plenty of colors. Include foods that are green, orange, purple, blue, yellow, and red. Eat lots of whole grains, healthy fats, and plant-based protein. Lots of ingredients can be swapped for different ones. It is like a create-your-own adventure of plant-based goodness! ๐Ÿ˜Š The vegan foods list will help you check all the boxes with flavors and nutrition.

Vegan Grocery List

Fruits

Fruits are always fun to shop for. There are so many different kinds, and it's exciting to try new ones. You can further diversify your fruit shopping by getting different kinds like berries, citrus fruits, and melons.

Vegetables

Like fruits, it is good to try different kinds and colors. You always want to include dark leafy greens. Also be sure to include tomatoes (even if it is a fruit), starchy root vegetables like yams, and potatoes, and other root vegetables like carrots. Frozen vegetables can be a quick and convenient way to include more veggies in your diet.

Protein

Plant-based protein can be best found from tofu, and legumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas. However, the vegan diet is great because protein can be found in many other things in the vegan foods list like nuts and seeds, greens vegetables like peas, and grains like quinoa, and oats.

Whole Grains

These are good staples to include in your vegan food list. Grains help to include fiber, protein, and complex carbs. This supports heart health and keeps you feeling full throughout the day! Some good grains to include are brown rice, quinoa, oats and farro.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a good source of healthy fats, and protein. Some good things to include on your vegan foods list are almonds, (and almond butter of course), walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and flax seeds.

Healthy Fats

When eating a plant-based diet it is easy to get too much refined vegetable oils like canola oil, palm oil, and vegan margarine. Instead, try to get fats from avocados, sesame oil, extra virgin olive oil, and from the olives themselves of course. You can also include nuts and seeds as a source of fats.

Herbs and Spices

Do not overlook herbs and spices, as these will bring great flavor to your cooking. Fresh herbs are always great to include whenever possible, but the dried varieties are okay too. Some good options to blast flavor into your food are garlic, rosemary, dill, cilantro, and oregano. If you like Indian cuisine, keep a steady supply of turmeric, paprika, cumin and garam masala (or some other curry spice mix). If you are not sure which spices are best, it's always a good idea to read recipes. This will help you to get an idea of which spices go with which foods. Additionally, try to look up recipes for your favorite foods to learn what spices are in them.

You can check out our recipe ideas and our Personalised Grocery List service.

Also, consider joining our community, our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement is growing daily!

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based

29th December 2020By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based

Vegan Vs Plant-Based: So What's The Difference?

Many people ask, what is the difference between vegan and plant-based? Isnโ€™t a vegan diet a plant-based diet? Yes, it is but that doesnโ€™t make them the same.

A vegan diet is different from a plant-based diet, though they are similar. They differ on the premise of the inclusion by choice of animal-based products.
A plant-based diet tends to include foods like fruits, sprouts, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Still confused about the difference between vegan and plant-based? No worries, I will explain further! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based - healthy vegan diet

A Healthy Vegan Diet

In this section, Iโ€™m going to breakdown the basics of a healthy vegan diet. Firstly, it comprises strictly of healthy plant-based foods. All animal products (dairy, meat, poultry, fish, honey, and eggs) are excluded from the diet. That said, some vegans may still consume foods like biscuits, chips, cookies and other junk related foods. It may also consist of processed foods including tofu, burgers, and ice-cream. Though snacks can be consumed a whole based diet is recommended. This will encourage a healthy vegan diet which is high in nutrients. Foods which are often consumed include:

Legumes: beans, split peas, nuts, seeds, soy products (tempeh or tofu). Legumes are known to be packed with fiber, protein, antioxidants, b-vitamins, and essential fatty acids.
Whole grains: wheat berries, millet, oats, brown rice, and quinoa. Whole grains provide a rich source of minerals, protein, fiber, b-vitamins, and antioxidants.
Fruits: Citrus and Berries. They are rich in vitamin C and a great source of antioxidants.

 

What Else Should a Healthy Vegan Diet Include?

Vitamin B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iodine. The are important nutrients.
Vitamin B12: Crucial for the formulation of red blood cells, neurological functioning, and the system of DNA. B-12 sources are best received through methyl cobalamin and supplements. B-12 in the form of cobalamin is found in fortified foods such as nutritional yeast, cereal, and non-dairy milk.
Vitamin D: natural sunlight and vitamin D supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids: (flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, hemp seed oil, tofu, canola oil and dark leafy greens). Omega 3 fatty acids create the adequate balance necessary for optimal brain and heart health. Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for infant/child development. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is omega-3 fatty acid in its original form. This is recognized within the body as DHA and EPA when converted.
Iodine: (navy beans, baked sweet potato with skin, enriched white bread, prunes, apple juice, strawberries and watercress)
Calcium: (almond milk, soy milk, almonds and soya beans)
Iron: (amaranth, navy beans and blackstrap molasses
Protein: (oats, tofu, tempeh, legumes and quinoa)

 

The Vegan Society - Definition of Veganism

The Vegan Society provides a great definition of veganism. They say,

"Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to excludeโ€”as far as is possible and practicableโ€”all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment."

Their definition also contains a specific clause:

โ€œIn dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.โ€

As we explained previously, this means that people who follow a healthy vegan diet will not consume meat, fish, eggs, or dairy products. Additionally, strict vegans avoid all animal-based products, i.e., honey and any foods or non-food products that are derived from animals.

 

Difference Between Vegan and Plant-Based - healthy plant-based diet

A Healthy Plant-Based Diet

A healthy plant-based diet is similar to a healthy vegan diet. In what way? Well, in the sense that it is about avoiding animal-based food products. That said, a person who is plant-based might avoid eating animal products. However, they might still decide to purchase a fur coat!

There are specific foods that some vegans might eat, which would not form part of a healthy plant-based diet. A perfect example is โ€˜vegan junk foodโ€™. This may consist of things like tofu based hot dogs and deep-fried seitan etc. These types of products are not great for your health and they obviously lack nutrition! Obviously, this does not fit in with the ethos of being plant-based.

What is Plant-Based?

Essentially, the focus is heavily placed on eating foods that are rich in plant sources. A healthy plant-based diet primarily includes whole foods. Whole foods are foods that experience little to no processing. Plant-based whole foods include vegetables fruits; whole grains (quinoa, barley, oatmeal); oils (avocado, olive, canola), and nuts and seeds. Additionally, refined foods such as white flour, white sugar, and processed oils are excluded or greatly reduced. Examples of recommended foods are listed below

Fruits: peaches, pineapple, bananas, berries, citrus fruits and pears
Vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, kale, spinach, tomatoes and bell peppers
Starchy vegetables: butternut squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes
Whole grains: Brown rice, brown rice pasta, rolled oats, quinoa and barley
Unsaturated fats: Avocado oil, olive oil and coconut oil
Legumes: Lentils, peanuts, black beans, peas and chickpeas
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, homemade peanut butter and tahini
Plant-based milk (no sugar added): Coconut milk, almond milk and cashew milk
Spices & Seasonings: curry, black pepper, salt, basil, rosemary and turmeric
Condiments: soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, salsa, mustard and nutritional yeast
Plant-based protein sources: Tofu, tempeh, protein powders, no added sugar, or artificial ingredients
Beverages: herbal tea and water

 

Summing Up - "Healing Through Foodโ€

To conclude, I will sum up the difference between vegan and plant-based in the following way:

- Veganism is a lifestyle which seeks to exclude all forms of cruelty, where possible.
- Plant-based is a diet which is about avoiding the consumption of animal products and anything refined, and food products which are not beneficial for health.

It's clear that people who follow a healthy vegan diet and a healthy plant-based diet have lower blood pressure and a lower body fat percentage.
So, now you are aware of the primary difference between vegan and plant-based nutrition, what is your next step?
Need help? No worries, check out our Personalised Grocery List service.

Whether you decide to go vegan or plant-based โ€“you should join our community and be part of our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement!

Go Vegan For The Environment

15th December 2020By DZ TeamEnvironment

Go Vegan For The Environment

Vegan Environment Facts

Are you considering going vegan for the environment? Well, there are various reasons why more and more people choose to go vegan every day. An increasingly popular one is to go vegan for the environment. As more research discovers what the exact impact of animal agriculture is on the environment, and more vegan environment facts come to light, we are finding out that going vegan is one of the best things we can do for our planet.
In this article, we will share some of the most important vegan environment facts, which explain why itโ€™s so beneficial to go vegan for the environment.

 

Vegan For The Environment - Diet Zest Vegan environment facts

The production cycle of our food

In animal agriculture, food grown on farms isnโ€™t consumed directly โ€“ instead, itโ€™s fed to livestock. This requires a lot of livestock feed and the animal product which ends up being made feeds much fewer people than the plants would in the first place. Over 700 million tons of food, which could be consumed by humans, is fed to livestock every year. If we all stopped eating animals, we could even solve the worldโ€™s food crisis!
This means many more resources are needed to produce animal products, in comparison to plant-based alternatives. Ultimately, the production cycle of animal agriculture is unsustainable by design. Even organic farms cannot avoid this characteristic, making going vegan for the environment the most sustainable solution.

Adding to our carbon footprint

Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental issues weโ€™re facing today โ€“ and the vegan environment facts regarding our carbon footprint are truly shocking. Research has found that animal agriculture produces more greenhouse gasses than all of the worldโ€™s transportation combined. There are many reasons why this is the case.

Firstly, livestock, particularly cows and sheep, produce methane while they digest โ€“ a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent in the short run than CO2. However, the good news about methane is that if we reduce our consumption, weโ€™re likely to see the results in our environment much sooner than when reducing our CO2 consumption!

Secondly, slaughterhouses and farms take a lot of energy to power, energy which often comes from fossil fuels. By choosing plant-based options, or deciding to go vegan for the environment, you are not just reducing your energy consumption โ€“ but also the carbon emissions associated with it.

Lastly, to grow livestock feed, forests are often cut down, particularly in the Amazon. As the number of trees which could compensate for our release of greenhouse gasses decreases, so do the effects of climate change. However, climate change is not the only issue deforestation causes โ€“ it also leads to widespread species extinction and soil degradation in the area.

Effects on our oceans

When speaking of vegan environment facts, we often focus on farming of livestock, rather than fishing. However, industrial fishing is one of the most environmentally damaging activities related to the sourcing of animal products โ€“ and an incredibly good reason to go vegan for the environment.

Firstly, the demand for fish and seafood is severely endangering marine species targeted by the fishermen. The fish simply cannot multiply fast enough to keep the population size stable, because so many are being caught. Some data even suggest the oceans could be fishless by 2048 if we donโ€™t take action. Although some steps are being taken to address this issue, we need much more widespread bans on fishing in these endangered areas โ€“ until that happens, the best thing to do for the environment and our ocean is to go vegan.

As if it wasnโ€™t enough that these targeted species are being endangered, so are other sea animals. This is happening because the fishing nets used by industrial fishing are exceptionally large and catch anything that comes in their way โ€“ this includes not just the target fish but also other animals, including dolphins, sharks, turtles and many endangered species. This phenomenon is referred to as bycatch and costs billions of animals their lives annually. Why do the animals die? They often get severely injured in the process and are thrown overboard, dead or dying

 

Vegan For The Environment & Vegan Environment Facts - Diet Zest

Wasting and polluting our water

It takes a lot of water to produce animal products โ€“ we need 100 to 200 more water to produce a pound of beef compared to a plant-based alternative. Besides water for the livestock to drink, a lot of water is also used to clean and maintain the facilities they are kept in.

Animal agriculture is also a big polluter of water, as faecal matter often leaks into rivers and contaminating them. Animal waste runoff is much more common than you may think and one of its most environmentally destructive consequences is the collapse of freshwater supply to the affected areas, leading to people being left without access to safe drinking water.

All the food thatโ€™s wasted

Food waste is another environmental issue we are facing in the 21st century. According to the USDA, 30% to 40% of our food supply goes to waste! While all food waste is highly problematic, it seems to be even more so with animal products.
Firstly, as we mentioned above, it takes more resources to produce animal products than it costs to produce plant-based foods. This means that if the food gets thrown away, more resources will have been wasted.
Secondly, animal products such as meat or dairy have a particularly short shelf life, especially when compared to vegan alternatives. This gives us less time to consume them and makes them more likely to be thrown away. While this does not apply to all animal products, itโ€™s an important factor to keep in mind.

Summing up vegan for the environment

Decided to go vegan for the environment? Thatโ€™s a wonderful thing! We wish you a lot of joy, sustainability, and animal compassion on your journey.

Remember these vegan environment facts โ€“ write them down or save this article. They will help keep you going if, at any point, you encounter challenges on your journey towards veganism.

If you need help to take your next step into veganism, why not check out our Personalised Grocery List service.

Consider joining our community, our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement is growing everyday!

The Vegan Diet – An Easy Guide for Beginners

5th December 2020By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

The Vegan Diet - An Easy Guide for Beginners

A World of Options for Vegans

Our vegan diet guide is filled with lots of tips, tricks, and hacks. This will help you to thrive while transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.

Before starting your vegan journey, it is important to think in terms of abundance instead of limitations. Instead of thinking, โ€œOh, I can't eat all these foodsโ€ it may be more helpful to flip it and instead tell yourself โ€œOh! I get to eat all of these foods.โ€ Not that people don't eat plant-based foods on a standard diet, but the focus changes.

With the vegan diet, you will notice and appreciate new foods and recipes, you can appreciate all the colors and variety in your food. And, you can appreciate how good you feel.

This little mental switch may help you with veganism. Plus, it's just good to adopt this mindset for many other journeys and challenges in life.

 

A Good General Rule of the Vegan Diet

Not all vegan diets are made the same. With growing popularity, there are many vegan products on the market today. While many of them are tasty, they can also be highly processed, unhealthy, and expensive. Many people enjoy these foods, and that is great, especially if it helps you. But having your diet centered on mock meats, and cheeses will defeat the purpose, and you could be missing out on the great benefits the vegan diet has to offer.

With that in mind, it is best to avoid refined oils (like canola oil and margarine), sugars, refined grains, and flours.

When going on a vegan diet it is most ideal to center it on plant-based whole foods. These are foods that are unprocessed and are purchased or prepared in their natural form. These are foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed fats, and legumes. Usually these foods don't come in a package, and if they do, there should only be one ingredient.

Keeping the whole food plant-based diet in mind is the best long-term strategy for eating. This is the way one can prevent, and even reverse many diseases that can kill or keep us from living our full potential. Nutritional science can be so confusing and contradictory. This can be because many industries with different interests fund the studies to make their products seem healthy. Lifelong nutrition doesnโ€™t have to be confusing when you keep those 4 words in mind - plant-based whole foods.

Benefits of a Vegan Diet

The list of benefits for following a vegan diet is long and worthwhile. We will focus on the health benefits for now because this is your journey, and it's about you. Not to overlook the amazing fact that animals don't have to die, and the health of the planet depends on sustainable, localized, plant-based food sources.

Plant-based foods can help manage your weight. This is because plant foods are less calorie dense than animal products. Most plant-based foods are abundant in fiber and are dense in other nutrients. Fiber is low in calories but helps keep us full longer. It also helps with digestion and keeps the heart healthy.

It is also great because you donโ€™t have to worry about cutting calories. You may feel you need to eat more on a vegan diet. There is no shame in that because plant-based food is less calorie dense but holds more nutrients. Eating more can be beneficial and even recommended - A favorite part for many on a vegan diet. Simply listen to your body. If you need to eat more, then do so.

The vegan diet can even be less expensive. Again, by focusing on plant-based whole foods you'll find that foods like beans, oats, rice, potatoes, and many fruits and vegetables are extremely cheap. It always helps to shop in season and locally too.

The vegan diet can keep your mind strong by preventing Alzheimerโ€™s and dementia. It can improve your longevity because plant-based foods are high in antioxidants which protect our body from free radicals and cancer-causing inflammation. Lastly, it has the power to kill the number one killer in the United States: Heart disease.

Following a vegan diet can keep you lean and muscular long term. One thing many worry about switching to a vegan diet is the lack of protein and possible muscle loss. This is not true though as there are many plant-based protein sources, and the vegan diet may even be better for fueling and energizing the body.

How to get Started and Keep on Track

Starting the vegan diet may be a quick transition, or not, but either way it is a lifelong journey. Always take the time to learn new recipes, read new books, or watch documentaries on the subject. It is helpful to learn which foods are the best for your body, and to learn helpful tips from the many who have followed the diet for a long time.

Transitioning does not have to be an all or nothing experience. Start by choosing plant-based whole foods. Many people start off as vegetarian too. Take small steps and go for consistency, and most importantly, have fun.

It is good to have a purpose and a reason why. Maybe if you feel like you're getting off track, or just feeling down, try to remind yourself why you do this. Maybe your reason is a bit different than others, and that's ok. But it is almost always about caring. You care about your body, the animals, and the planet.

 

The Vegan Diet โ€“ Diet Zest Article

Living in Society as a Vegan

Restaurants

Restaurants can be tricky if you live in a smaller city or town and there is only a handful to choose from. However, many restaurants are becoming increasingly accommodating by carrying plant-based meats, and cheeses. If not, you can always look at menus online and even call in advance to ask if they can prepare something or make substitutions.

Gatherings

You can always prepare and bring something you are proud to make. Potluck style gatherings are always a great opportunity to do so. People are usually quite accommodating to their guests. Even meat enthusiasts are usually happy to try to make vegan dishes for their friends.

Travelling

Travelling as a vegan should be an opportunity rather than a limitation. You can visit places that celebrate a more plant-based lifestyle. Or, you can check out Eat List to find vegan restaurants and more. Of course, you can visit local markets and cook food at your place of stay using local produce and ingredients.

Nutrition Myths and Tips

Plant Protein

Plant protein is among one of the biggest myths in the vegan diet. Research suggests that protein deficiency is not a problem in the vegan diet unless one is restricting calories. If you feel you are not getting enough protein, then you may need to eat more. But, eating a variety of plant-based whole foods should be more than sufficient in terms of protein.

B12

Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and not from animals. Due to sterile practices, plan-food does lack b12. However, it is recommended to take a supplement. Nutritional yeast also happens to be packed with it. Just a quarter cup can have 8 times your daily need.

Omega-3

A plant derived supplement can help with this. You can also eat chia, flax seed, hemp, and walnuts.

Iron

The plant based diet contains plenty of iron from sources like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, avocado, tofu, tempeh and potatoes.

Supplements

This not just applies to people on a vegan diet but everyone. It may be beneficial to supplement with Vitamin b12, Vitamin D (if you donโ€™t get much sun), and Omega 3.

You can check out ourย Personalised Grocery List service for more ideas.

Also, join our community, and our โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement, it's growing daily! ๐Ÿ™‚

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and the Vegan Diet

5th November 2020By DZ TeamGoing Vegan

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and the Vegan Diet

Definition, Signs, and Natural Treatment

Overview

In this article, we will explore one particular concern that gets often brought up with the vegan diet โ€“ the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Every year, the number of people who adopt the vegan diet increases. Experts attribute this phenomenon to the health benefits of eating fresh veggies and fruits, while eliminating processed foods.

According to one study, 9.6 million Americans have adopted the vegan lifestyle, which translates to around 3% of the population.
As expected, the rapid increase in the number of vegans raised some concerns. This includes the safety of excluding all animal products and the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies.

 

The physiological role of vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (a.k.a., cobalamin) is a water-soluble compound. It plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and the production of new red blood cells.
Cobalamin is indispensable for the production of new red blood cells, which transfer oxygen to different tissues. Low levels of vitamin B12 causes a type of anemia that primarily presents with fatigue.

Researchers found that vitamin B12 boosts the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This allows your body to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) more efficiently.
Sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 also:

  • reduces the risk of age-related macular degeneration
  • improves symptoms of psychiatric disorders (i.e., depression)
  • prevents birth defects.

The list of vitamin B12 benefits does not end here, since this compound is involved in a myriad of physiological processes.
Normally, we can find vitamin B12 in meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products. For this reason, many vegans are concerned about whether they are getting sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 through their diets.

Vitamin B12 deficiency

The primary organs affected by vitamin B12 deficiency are the nervous system and the circulatory systems.

Unlike iron deficiency, which leads to microcytic anemia (i.e., the red blood cells become smaller), vitamin B12 deficiency precipitates megaloblastic anemia. The latter is characterized by the production of large red blood cells that do not function properly.

Researchers also found that low levels of B12 increase the risk of dementia, depression, paranoia, and certain behavioral changes.

Unfortunately, when the nerve cells get damaged, there is no current therapy that could effectively reverse the process.

Mild symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Balance problems
  • Confusion
  • Poor memory
  • Soreness of the mouth or tongue
  • Numbness and tingling in peripheral extremities (i.e., hands and feet)

By far, the most devastating adverse effect of vitamin B12 deficiency is birth defects, since these are usually irreversible.
Studies suggest that the prevalence of B12 deficiency ranges between 1.5% and 15% of people in the US. The incidence is even higher in vegans.

Vitamin B12 deficiency and the vegan diet - Diet Zest article

The vegan diet and vitamin B12

In general, unwashed organic produce (e.g., mushrooms grown in B12-rich soils, nori, spirulina, chlorella, nutritional yeast) have vitamin B12.

Some vegans believe that including some of these plant foods in their diets means they donโ€™t have to worry about vitamin B12 deficiency. However, research is not aligned with this belief.

Furthermore, the plant foods that seem to naturally contain vitamin B12 might not be active in humans.

To add to the argument, there is no scientific evidence that recommends depending on unwashed organic produce for vitamin B12.

According to studies, people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet have a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiencies, relative to those on a regular diet.

The appropriate vitamin B12 dosage

For adults, the daily recommended intake is 2.4 micrograms (mcg) per day. This number changes slightly during pregnancy (2.6 mcg) and breastfeeding (2.8 mcg).

The recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 for vegetarians and vegans is similar to individuals on a normal diet.

To reach these daily recommendations, vegans must consume large amounts of B12-fortified foods or take dietary supplements.

However, if you are under the age of 50 years and following the vegan diet, it is very challenging to meet the RDI of 2.4 mcg per day.

You see, taking vitamin B12-fortified foods may not be enough. For instance, the cobalamin found in nutritional yeast is light-sensitive, which means it might degrade if you buy the product from a store that uses clear plastic bags.

In one review paper, scientists reported that 86.5% of vegetarians have abnormally low levels of vitamin B12.

Unfortunately, there are no official RDI guidelines for vegans and vegetarians.

However, one study suggested that taking 6 mcg of vitamin B12 per day might be appropriate to keep normal serum levels.

For all the reasons listed above, vegans might not be able to reach the recommended daily intake. This is true, even when consuming B12-fortified foods. To compensate for this, you may want to take a daily supplement that provides 25โ€“100 mcg of cyanocobalamin. Alternatively, a weekly dosage of 2,000 mcg.

If you still have concerns about supplement intake, you can always test your serum levels of vitamin B12. This will allow you to tailor your dietary/supplement needs.

You should also keep in mind that the absorption of vitamin B12 becomes less efficient with age. In fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends that individuals over the age of 51 start consuming fortified foods. They also suggest taking B12 supplementation regardless of whether you are vegan or not.

Disclaimer: before taking vitamin B12 supplementation, you may want to speak with your primary care physician to ensure that it is safe. Your doctor may also order some blood tests to measure serum levels of B12.

Takeaway message

The vegan diet provides a myriad of health benefits to the human body. It optimizes your cardiovascular system, digestion, cognitive functions, and more!

Awareness of the potential nutritional deficiencies associated with this diet will allow you to be one step ahead. This also helps prevent unnecessary complications.

Hopefully, this article managed to shed some light on the importance of supplying your body with vitamin B12.

You can also check out Vegan Diet - An Easy Guide for Beginners and our Personalised Grocery List service.

Why not consider joining our community. The Diet Zest โ€œHealing through foodโ€ movement is growing by the day! ๐Ÿ™‚