Thursday, 03 March 2011 07:30

Vegan Health Starts With Fresh Organic Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Beans & Nuts

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In my second video with Larry Cook, a health author and video producer, I speak about how to eat a healthy vegan diet. The following is opinion and based on personal research - I am not a doctor or nutritionist, so please read my health disclaimer before taking my advice.

I have experimented with many ways of eating as a vegan. When I first adopted the plant-based diet I was really into frozen and refrigerated meat and dairy alternatives because they tasted similar to the foods I was eating before. I ate this way for years, enjoying all sorts of fake-this and fake-that. While I appreciate the options and think they're great for transitioning, when I stepped back and thought about it I realized that they are indeed fake food - in other words highly processed, rarely organic, and not incredibly nutritious.

In my opinion, eating a whole foods plant-based diet is the healthiest route to take as a vegan, and this can mean different things to different people. Some thrive on raw foods, others on mainly fruit, others on the macrobiotic diet, and others skip out on things like gluten, soy, oil, and sweeteners. In fact, some argue that they need to eat meat and/or dairy. While it doesn't seem like there's a perfect diet for everyone, most nutritionists agree that eating mainly unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds is very healthy.

I also think it's very important to eat organic and local foods whenever possible, for health and environmental reasons. This food is usually free of chemicals and are fresher, and less transportation is involved when it's local. If you buy mainly from the produce and bulk sections you're reducing packaging from your kitchen, which is another eco bonus. This lifestyle encourages you to learn how to cook, which gives you more control of what you put into your food, such as smaller amounts of oil, salt, and sweeteners.

Ultimately, your ideal diet comes down to eating what makes you feel the best. I encourage you to experiment - try going entirely gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-oil, and/or raw for a few weeks and see if it makes a difference. You don't have to do it all at once - try taking processed foods out one by one and work your way up. And it's all about moderation. While my diet consists of mainly organic, local, unprocessed whole foods, I do enjoy the occasional piece of mock meat, slice of Daiya topped pizza, cup of soy latte, or plate of greasy take-out food. I value all the companies who make delicious vegan products, but their place in my life is as an occasional treat.

Check out my first video with Larry on How To Feel Healthier and Look Better and visit his website to learn more about him and his health book.
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