The Vegan Diet — A Complete Guide for Beginners

The vegan diet has become very popular.

Increasingly more people have decided to go vegan for ethical, environmental or health reasons.

When done right, such a diet may result in various health benefits, including a trimmer waistline and improved blood sugar control.

Nevertheless, a diet based exclusively on plant foods may, in some cases, increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies.

This article is a detailed beginner’s guide to the vegan diet. It aims to cover everything you need to know, so you can follow a vegan diet the right way.

What Is the Vegan Diet?

Veganism is defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether for food, clothing or any other purpose.

For these reasons, the vegan diet is devoid of all animal products, including meat, eggs and dairy.

People choose to follow a vegan diet for various reasons.

These usually range from ethics to environmental concerns, but they can also stem from a desire to improve health.

BOTTOM LINE:

A vegan diet excludes all animal products. Many people choose to eat this way for ethical, environmental or health reasons.

Different Types of Vegan Diets

There are different varieties of vegan diets. The most common include:

  • Whole-food vegan diet: A diet based on a wide variety of whole plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
  • Raw-food vegan diet: A vegan diet based on raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds or plant foods cooked at temperatures below 118°F (48°C).
  • 80/10/10: The 80/10/10 diet is a raw-food vegan diet that limits fat-rich plants such as nuts and avocados and relies mainly on raw fruits and soft greens instead. Also referred to as the low-fat, raw-food vegan diet or fruitarian diet.
  • The starch solution: A low-fat, high-carb vegan diet similar to the 80/10/10 but that focuses on cooked starches like potatoes, rice and corn instead of fruit.
  • Raw till 4: A low-fat vegan diet inspired by the 80/10/10 and starch solution. Raw foods are consumed until 4 p.m., with the option of a cooked plant-based meal for dinner.
  • The thrive diet: The thrive diet is a raw-food vegan diet. Followers eat plant-based, whole foods that are raw or minimally cooked at low temperatures.
  • Junk-food vegan diet: A vegan diet lacking in whole plant foods that relies heavily on mock meats and cheeses, fries, vegan desserts and other heavily processed vegan foods.

Although several variations of the vegan diet exist, most scientific research rarely differentiates between different types of vegan diets.

Therefore, the information provided in this article relates to vegan diets as a whole.

BOTTOM LINE:

There are several ways to follow a vegan diet, but scientific research rarely differentiates between the different types.

Vegan Diets Can Help You Lose Weight

Vegans tend to be thinner and have a lower body mass index (BMI) than non-vegans.

This might explain why an increasing number of people turn to vegan diets as a way to lose excess weight.

Part of the weight-related benefits vegans experience may be explained by factors other than diet. These may include healthier lifestyle choices, such as physical activity, and other health-related behaviors.

However, several randomized controlled studies, which control for these external factors, report that vegan diets are more effective for weight loss than the diets they are compared to.

Interestingly, the weight loss advantage persists even when whole-food-based diets are used as control diets.

These include diets recommended by the American Dietetics Association (ADA), the American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP).

What’s more, researchers generally report that participants on vegan diets lose more weight than those following calorie-restricted diets, even when they’re allowed to eat until they feel full.

The natural tendency to eat fewer calories on a vegan diet may be caused by a higher dietary fiber intake, which can make you feel fuller.

BOTTOM LINE:

Vegan diets seem very effective at helping people naturally reduce the amount of calories they eat, resulting in weight loss.