The Vegan Food Pyramid

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Using the Vegan Food Pyramid

Vegans are those who have chosen not to eat meat or any animal byproducts. If you are a vegan or thinking of becoming a vegan, it is important to use the vegan food pyramid to make sure you are eating enough protein and other nutrients to stay healthy and keep your energy levels up.

When you first look at the vegan food pyramid, it is sort of similar to the one that you might be familiar with. Breads and grains form the base of the vegan pyramid, followed by fruits and veggies one level up. However, if you look at it closely, you see that milk and dairy have been replaced with other calcium-rich foods like fortified soya milk. Meats have been replaced by legumes, which include beans, nuts, peas and lentils and tofu. On some versions of the pyramid, legumes and calcium fortified foods are grouped together, on others that are placed side by side the way meat and dairy appear on the regular food pyramid. In any case, they are important to the vegan diet because these foods contain most of the protein that vegans consume.

At the top of the food pyramid is the Omega 3 fatty acid group. Fatty acid may sound like a scary term to those who are used to hearing that Americans need to cut down on the fat that they consume, but these fats are an important part of the vegan diet. These fatty acids, found in nuts, seeds and other sources within the vegan diet, provide nourishment to hair and fingernails. They also help to support the immune system as well as help a person maintain a healthy weight.

In addition to the foods that are in the vegan food pyramid, vegans are also advised to use supplements to get vitamin B12 as well as vitamin D. Vitamin B12 is primarily in meats, so it is necessary to supplement this vitamin if you stop eating meat. Vitamin B12 is important because a lack of the vitamin can lead to problems like anemia, fatigue, nerve damage and other conditions.

Vitamin D is usually formed by the body during exposure to sunlight. However, for vegans who do not get a lot of direct sunlight or who use sunscreen, it is important to supplement this nutrient as well. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which is essential for strong bones. Those who do not get enough vitamin D may find themselves more prone to rickets and other brittle bone conditions.

If you feel intimidated when you first look at the vegan food pyramid, you are not alone. Many people wonder how they can possibly eat all of the recommended servings of food every day. However, there are foods in the pyramids that can fall into more than one group. For example, green leafy vegetables definitely fit in with the vegetables, but many people do not know that they are rich in calcium as well. Therefore, they can be grouped with "fortified soya milk and alternatives", which are the calcium foods in the pyramid.

By Martha D

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Source by Martha D