The plant-based diet is popular mainly because of the health benefits like weight loss, reduced risk of developing heart diseases, and lower blood sugar levels, etc. However, people make some common mistakes because of the assumption that a vegetarian or vegan diet is healthy by default. You should also keep in mind that maintaining a balanced vegetarian diet can be challenging. In this article, we will focus on some of the common mistakes that people make when eating plant-based food, and how to avoid them.
The Assumption: Plant-Based Food Is Healthier
People naturally assume that plant-based foods are healthier than their regular counterparts. This is not always true as they can be lacking in some nutrients. For example, almond milk is a staple in vegan and vegetarian diets, but it has lower amounts of proteins and calories compared to dairy milk. Also, other plant-based food products like burgers, nuggets, and meat alternatives are usually highly processed and contain artificial ingredients. Besides, they have higher calories and low protein content resulting in weight gain. Because of this, they are considered unhealthy and no better than regular processed non-vegetarian food.
Lower Amount Of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient required for processes like the production of DNA and red blood cells. Compared to animal products, plant-based food is low on this vitamin. Because of this, vegetarians or vegans are at a higher risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency. This causes fatigue, megaloblastic anemia, and memory problems. Therefore, it is recommended that people who follow a plant-based diet must take vitamin B12 supplements. Also, they can consume vegetarian food products fortified with this vitamin.
Using Cheese Instead Of Meat
It is a common practice among people switching to a vegetarian diet to replace meat with excessive use of cheese to compensate for the calories. However, this is not good as cheese is high in calories, but low on protein and minerals. Instead, you can use plant-based foods like quinoa, nuts, beans, chickpeas, tempeh, and lentils.
Eating Fewer Calories
Compared to animal-based food, plant-based food is low on calories. This is because the calorie per pound is lower than animal food products. Also, studies have shown that vegans have the lowest calorie intake. So, if you are restricting calories, ensure that the body gets adequate amounts to function properly. Otherwise, it can cause issues like fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, and lower metabolic rate, etc. One of the best ways to ensure this is to include whole grains and products made from it in your meals.