The vegan diet is one of the healthiest and most beneficial to the planet when it is done right. However, not all vegans are doing it right. And this brings me to writing about what vegans should eat to be in the best shape of their lives and as a side benefit live as long as possible to continue their good works.
Veganism as a diet is in and of itself healthier than the SAD (Standard American Diet) that most of us are eating or grew up on.
Why is this? Well if for no other reasons than a vegan diet excludes all animal foods and products made from animals or their secretions. Because animal products are the only products within the human diet which provide cholesterol, it doesn't matter what you eat as a vegan you are guaranteed not to be ingesting any cholesterol.
Despite what some of the dissenters might say, cholesterol does lead to heart disease. The American Heart Association admits as much and that is why they keep encouraging folks to limit their cholesterol consumption.
Recent research by some preeminent researchers have even suggested that there is NO safe level of cholesterol ingestion for humans. This is the reason why the Institutes of Medicine has not set tolerable upper intake levels for saturated fat, trans saturated fat and cholesterol, because there is NO tolerable upper intake. That is to say that any amount of those 3 ingredients creates adverse affects on your cholesterol and heart health.
So a vegan eating a junk food vegan diet is getting no cholesterol and they are therefore on a healthier diet than an omnivore eating a junk food diet.
But eating potato chips, dark chocolate and soda pop with donuts for dessert is not a healthy diet. It might be healthier than what most Americans are eating but it sure isn't healthy by any means. Most Americans are out of shape, obese and in ill health generally.
So what should vegans eat to be healthy? Well, I'm going to tell you right now and give you examples of some healthy vegan meals you could start eating right away. I call it the vegan rainbow diet and you'll understand why in just a minute.
One of the great side benefits of eating a healthy whole foods plant based diet is that it is cheaper too. You'll save money not only at the grocery checkout isle but through your health care bills over time as well.
Let's take a look at this rainbow diet and see exactly what it's all about.
Eating rainbows for ultimate vegan health
If you remember your elementary school science class at all you're probably familiar with who I like to call Mr. ROY G. BIV. He is the acronym for the colors of the rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.
Ah, you do remember Mr. ROY. Excellent. But now you're wondering what on earth does the rainbow man have to do with what vegans should eat? Everything my impatient friend. Everything. Let me explain.
If you remember only this one rule to eating healthy as a vegan you'll do better than 90% of vegans out there. The key is to eat at least one serving of either fruits, veggies, grains or legumes that represent one of the colours of the rainbow.
Let's take a look at it in practice.
For breakfast I chose a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and on the side I had a banana. Before even getting to work I've already chomped on 2 colours of the rainbow. Blue from my blueberries and yellow from my banana.
For lunch I have a large salad of mixed greens with chopped cranberries and walnuts with a light vinaigrette dressing and a Gardein soy chicken breast. Now I've eating of the colours red, green and violet. Violet and indigo you need to use some imagination for. I use violet in my mixed greens, because some of the greens you'll see in a salad like that are a deep purple almost violet. Radicchio and endive leaves come to mind.
For dinner I have a hearty bowl of black bean soup with a generous hunk of whole grain bun and a side salad. The black beans are more indigo or violet so I can mark that off of my vegan rainbow calendar.
As I'm finishing up my day, the only colour of the rainbow I haven't eaten from is orange. But really, that's a gimme. I'll just have an orange as a snack. Bada bing bada boom.
That my friends is how you eat a healthy vegan diet in a nutshell. If you take away nothing else from this article it should be this. But we aren't quite done. There are some fine tuning we should do to really take our health to the next level and beyond.
Tweaks to take you from meek to strong
With the above advice to encourage you to eat your veggies choosing from the rainbow we've essentially added to our diet. But adding is not always the only thing we want to accomplish. Sometimes a little subtraction goes a long way too.
Just adding in healthy foods to a bad diet is good, but it's not great. We want great, robust health and this is how to do it.
Ideally, a diet is a zero sum game and by that I mean that as we add we also need to subtract so that we end up at zero. Or to put it another way, adding calories and in effect creating a calories excess in the diet is going to make you fat. So we need to add in healthy calories but at the same time take away some of the unhealthy calories too.
Here is where you can fine tune your diet to create the best possibility of health and longevity. Let's take out some junk from the trunk.
The first thing I'd like to take out of your diet is liquid calories. I don't care if its orange juice, soy milk, a soda or a glass of wine. Take it out. You don't need any of it. And don't think you'll get away with drinking diet pop. That's practically poison.
I am not from the school of thought that thinks a glass of red wine is beneficial. In fact, much of the red wine research has recently been brought into question over suggestions of fraud. It might not be harmful though I believe ingesting alcohol (a toxin) is not going to be harmless.
So no liquid calories. Except perhaps if you don't have teeth. But even then, get yourself a good pair of dentures and start masticating your food.
And lastly my vegan colleagues, please, oh please stop eating junk food. Let me spell it out for you. If you have to deep fry it or load it up with sugar or salt it is junk food. I'm not saying never, I'm just saying hardly ever.
For the best vegan diet you want to avoid chips, chocolate, donuts, fries and vegan candies. There is more to becoming vegan than caring for the animals. We need to care for our own bodies too. After all, we are animals too!
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