The Value in Veganism

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I don't believe in going on diets. You know the kind of thing I mean, eating only protein or eating only grapefruit for two weeks. Sure, you can lose weight and sometimes pretty quickly, but then the pounds all come back when you are finished with the diet. Ultimately I don't believe in these kinds of diets because it doesn't address the underlying lifestyle issues. North Americans eat too much fat, too much sugar, too much salt, and just plain too much.

I think about my diet, rather than "a diet". It's why I eat more vegetables, legumes and more whole grains than I used to. If we paid attention to what we eat regularly, we could maintain a healthy weight, and depressing and dangerous yo-yo dieting would be a thing of the past.

A new study conducted by researchers from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the George Washington University, and the University of Toronto has shown that in fact following a vegan diet can be very effective in weight loss and an improvement in health for those with diabetes and hypertension, and all without calorie counting.

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The vegan diet is completely devoid of any animal products, and therefore low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Foods such as sweet potatoes and legumes and green leafy vegetables which are staples of a vegan diet are digested more slowly and don't create spikes in blood sugar that is so dangerous to diabetics. Researchers believe that a plant based diet improves how the body uses insulin. In this study, those following the vegan diet lost weight, lowered their cholesterol and lowered their blood sugar.

The participants who followed a conventional diabetes diet complained about having to cut back on carbohydrates, fat and constantly counting calories and they still had trouble losing weight. Although the vegan participants initially reported having to put more effort into their food preparation, after a time this was no longer a problem, and they were much less likely to have cravings for fatty foods than those on the conventional diet.

According to The Globe and Mail, other studies with participants on calorie controlled diets had more trouble keeping to the diet than those who were following a vegetarian diet. They gave up on average after four months, but those on a vegetarian diet were still on it after two years. So even if you don't want to go entirely vegan, you will still benefit from the vegetarian diet. The trick with a vegan diet is ensuring you meet your nutritional needs. To achieve the required amount of calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D you will like need to take supplements.

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Lemon Lovers' Quinoa Tabbouleh

4 cups cooked quinoa
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups loosely packed parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 cups diced seedless cucumber
2 cups diced seeded tomatoes
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped green onions, finely sliced

1. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in olive oil. Add to the quinoa. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Cover and chill thoroughly.

From The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook by Judith Finlayson

Source: Leslie Beck, Globe and Mail, February 4, 2009

The Challenge This Week: Try making vegan dinners for an entire week. It's easier than you think.

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