Challenges and benefits

So what is vegan, anyway?

  • Joel Patterson, the owner of Nature's Green Grocer, creates a vegan-compliant kale salad for the Grocer's cafe.
  • Joel Patterson, the owner of Nature's Green Grocer, creates a vegan-compliant kale salad for the Grocer's cafe.
  • Joel Patterson, the owner of Nature's Green Grocer, creates a vegan-compliant kale salad for the Grocer's cafe.
  • Joel Patterson, the owner of Nature's Green Grocer, creates a vegan-compliant kale salad for the Grocer's cafe.

Some may have heard of a vegetarian diet, which excludes meat from the diet. But the vegan diet may be on the rise, and even this lifestyle has a few variations.

Some vegans don’t eat anything that our planet can’t grow. The other type of vegan, with a more flexible diet, won’t eat meat or any by-product from an animal, but will eat food from the work of an animal, i.e. honey, noted Joel Patterson of Nature’s Green Grocer in Peterborough.

Patterson has been vegan for stretches of his life and continues to exclude dairy from his diet, although he occasionally eats meat. In what follows, he discusses the challenges of eating vegan, but also some of the benefits.

Benefits of a vegan diet

A vegan diet can help someone achieve a cleaner body system, Patterson said in a recent interview. “Especially your liver will get very cleaned out,” Patterson said. “You will have the energy you need, and you won’t have intestinal or liver problems with eating meat or drinking milk.”

From his experiences of being vegan, Patterson said he felt the diet gave him clarity about what foods work best for his body. “It allows you to listen to what your body needs and can digest best.”

Balanced diet is key

To all those vegans who would just love to eat only tofu-based products and fake-meat substitutes, Patterson said the number one priority for vegans is to eat a balanced diet with a good protein source. “Just rice and veggies isn’t enough, you need to find a healthy source of protein in your diet,” Patterson said. “Some kind of nuts in your diet on the regular is good, beans and lentils are good sources, too.”

He added that fruits and vegetables are very important, and vegans should be eating lots of them.

Another difference with the vegan diet

Besides eliminating certain foods in the vegan diet, Patterson said the amount of food you eat at each meal should increase with more natural foods. “You don’t need as much food on your plate, if you’re eating meat,” Patterson said. “If you’re eating veggies, you need more to fill you up or smaller meals throughout the day.”

Who can be vegan?

Based on his research and own personal needs, Patterson said that no matter what he tried, other sources of protein besides meat were not enough for his body.

He said he has not had dairy for 12 years and thinks it’s an unnecessary part of a diet. “I definitely think for some people that they can be vegan for life,” Patterson said.

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