Vegan Diet: Is It Good For You?

Ellen DeGeneres credits her figure to her vegan diet. The 52-year-old television presenter admits her youthful looks and toned physique are thanks to her long-time decision to not eat meat and avoid sugar.

She said: "No cake, no cookies, no candy. No animals, no diary, nothing processed; a lot of soup, veggies, rice, beans, legumes. I want to be on my toes; I want to have energy. And as much as the diet seems like a sacrifice, it's helping me."

Vegan diets have become increasingly popular over the last decade with a bevy of celebrities including Alicia Silverstone, Zooey Deschanel, Tobey Maguire and Ginnifer Goodwin all choosing to follow the lifestyle philosophy.

Vegans seek to exclude the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. That means their diet is void of any meat which can lead people to question whether vegans get enough protein.

“When I made the decision to turn vegan I was constantly bombarded with one question: “Where are you going to get your protein from?!” says Jessica, editor of http://thewellnesswarrior.blogspot.com/. “Everyone thought I was going to become a sallow, weak, incoherent shell of my former self if I stopped eating foods like meat and dairy.”

So is a vegan diet actually good for you?

“Following a diet without any animal products can and is a healthy way to eat if the focus is on the reason why one made the decision initially, not fanaticism or extremism,” says Naturopath and nutritionist, Janella Purcell, www.janellapurcell.com.

“Vegans, as well as vegetarians, need to be very well informed about nutrition to ensure they're getting all the nutrients the body needs. For the most part this is possible if one is mindful where they're getting omega 3 fatty acids, iron, protein and calcium.”

Caitlin Reid, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Exercise Physiologist, www.healthandthecity.com.au, agrees. “For good health, it’s important that vegans enjoy a wide variety of foods including breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, calcium-fortified soy products and products fortified with vitamin B12. Seaweed can also help vegans meet their iodine needs, while algae is a vegetarian source of long-chain omega-3s.”

If you’re considering following a vegan diet, it’s always best to consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian to ensure you are meeting your nutritional needs, but some great vegan foods to keep in mind include:
• Beans
• Grains
• Nuts
• Seeds
• Spinach
• Lentils
• Chickpeas
• Quinoa
• Broccoli
• Asparagus
• Bamboo shoots
• Brussels sprouts

Do you have any great vegan recipes you can share?

For info on good fats versus bad fats click here!
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