Why you should follow a vegan diet

As fickle as our Fitness Correpondent Ross Edgley's food choices sound, let him explain his reasons to take up a weekend vegan diet

By Ross Edgley, GQ

Once a month I become a weekend vegan. A part-time participant in the veganism movement, I can’t claim to be a fully-fledged member of the “Vgang” like friend and founder of the vegan charity Ethics and Antics Tim Shieff. Instead, I’m a nutritional nomad who sporadically dips in and out of this world with a spoon in one hand and a spinach, sweet potato and lentil dhal curry in the other. But as fickle as my food choices sound, let me explain my four reasons to take up a weekend vegan diet.

What is Veganism?

Before we begin, a quick definition of the vegan diet. It’s essentially a nutritional approach adopted by people who refuse to view animals as commodities that we can freely exploit, eat and use. Not only for food, but also for such things as clothing, sport or entertainment. In short, breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are often plant-based and all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey are banished from kitchens, cupboards and dinner plates. Which is all something I strive to adopt for one weekend, once a month. Here are my reasons why…

I refuse to follow a diet

For many people food is black and white. You’re either vegan or you’re not. You’re either low carb or high carb. You’re either paleo nor not. The list goes on. Basically when it comes to our nutrition we’re encouraged to adopt, “Polarised Thinking” which is a fallacy of thinking that our food is either black or white, good or bad, all or nothing.

I refuse to accept this binary solution to diet!

I don’t want to eat through pie charts and checklists. In a large-scale study in which many diets were analysed, the International Journal of Obesity found there was no perfect nutrition plan. Instead they concluded, “Regardless of assigned diet, 12-month weight change was greater in the most adherent,” adding, “These results suggest that strategies to increase adherence may deserve more emphasis than the specific diet.” Basically, the diet you're on doesn’t matter, enjoying it and adhering to it does.

Count nutrients, not calories

People dieting the world over have become obsessed with calorie counting. It stems from our basic understanding that if we increase our calorie intake we become fat. But if we reduce our calorie intake we become thin. This is why the University of Colorado emphatically stated that body fat can't change if, over a specified time, energy intake and energy expenditure are equal.

Basically, it’s the old “energy in" and "energy out" approach to dieting. But what’s interesting is as junk food invades every area of our cupboards our diets become more calorie dense and less nutrient dense. The result — as reported by The New England Journal of Medicine — is obesity coupled with malnutrition. It sounds like a contradiction, but people are eating more yet not getting the vital vitamins, minerals, enzymes and micronutrients they need to fight of disease.

Yet, generally speaking, vegan diets are higher in dietary fiber, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin E, and phytochemicals and lower in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. Vegans don’t count calories, they count nutrients and in many ways embrace the work of scientists at State University of New York Downstate Medical Centre who say: "Attacking the obesity epidemic will involve giving up many old ideas that have not been productive, 'A calorie is a calorie' might be a good place to start."

Compete on carbs, fats and fuel

We need protein to repair and regrow. Considered our, “body’s building block” our organs, skin, hair, muscles and nails are all built from it and if you’re an athlete research in the Journal of Sports Sciences states that, "A considerable amount of evidence has accumulated during the past 15 years which indicates that regular exercise does in fact increase protein needs". This is why the kitchen of many vegan athletes comes stocked with lentils, nuts, soy protein and maybe even specially made vegan protein powder.

But on a weekend before a marathon or triathlon I will usually go vegan. This is because my body doesn’t need copious amounts of protein to repair and instead carbohydrates and fats that are densely packed with plant-based vitamins would be a welcome form of fuel. To quote research published by Nutrition Focus New Zealand Limited, "the number of gruelling events that challenge the limits of human endurance is increasing. Such events are also challenging the limits of current dietary recommendations."

Basically in my own small way my dual-fuel, vegan weekend is challenging the, “limits of current dietary recommendations.”

Practice Mindful Eating

Lastly — but many would argue most importantly — becoming a weekend vegan teaches you mindful eating. This is eating with intention and attention which realigns our turbulent relationship with food. A lost art form in our calorie-abundant, diet-obsessed culture where people will reach for the cookie jar and pizza box without thinking where it came from or its nutrient profile. But mindful eating is an ancient practice that has profound modern implications for resolving this troubled love-hate relationship we have with food.

It’s also something veganism seems to inherently embody. Everything a vegan puts on their plate and in their mouth they have researched and know its source and origin. Something that can’t be said for certain meat eaters who buy cheap, processed, low-grade sausages made from 10 different parts from 10 different animals (including but not limited to snouts, ears and other parts that will remain nameless).

In summary, there’s nothing wrong with being a nutritional nomad or part-time vegan. Take your taste buds on a different tour across foreign foods and you might discover the above 4 points and more. Refuse to be bound by rules and regulations and never eat through a checklist or pie chart ever again.
Food & Drink,Fitness,Health



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U.S. Daily News: Why you should follow a vegan diet
Why you should follow a vegan diet
U.S. Daily News
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