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You've probably heard a lot about a vegan diet, a way of eating popular among celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres or Alicia Silverstone. Following a vegan diet means omitting all animal products including meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, and even honey, while loading up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy (like tofu, edamame, and tempeh).
On Tuesday, as part of our series "Secrets of Diet Trends," TODAY explores veganism. The benefits are numerous: vegan foods are free of dietary cholesterol, which makes it especially good for people with blood cholesterol issues; the foods tend to be heart-healthy, low in saturated fat and high in zinc and fiber; vegans typically eat fewer calories, weigh less and have a lower body mass index.
The challenges, however, are also numerous: Just because it’s vegan doesn’t make it healthy. French fries, white bread and jelly beans are vegan, so you can pile on calories and gain weight. Strict vegans may need to supplement vitamin B12, a nutrient found only in animal sources. Other nutrients such as vitamin D (best sources are fatty fish and fortified milk) and iron may be difficult to get enough of on a vegan diet, so you may need to couple your plant-based iron sources with foods rich in vitamin C to increase iron absorption.
And adhering to a vegan diet may be tough in social scenarios such as dinner parties.
If you’re up for giving it a try, Joy Bauer offers a sample day and recipes:
Sample Vegan Day:
Breakfast: Oatmeal made with water or unsweetened vanilla almond milk plus berries and chopped walnuts.
Lunch: Lentil soup with a side salad and a peach.
Snack: Veggies and hummus
Dinner: Tofu stir-fry with peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, and brown rice.
Dessert: Diced mango sprinkled with unsweetened coconut flakes.
Looking for a few recipes? Try these tasty vegan dishes:
Tofu Scramble: If you love to kick off your day with eggs at breakfast, this tofu scramble is perfect — it’s protein packed and totally delicious.
Bean Cheese: Top a toasted bagel or toast with this cream cheese alternative — it’s delicious, spreadable and offers up a dose of protein.
Mac and Cashew Cheese: This tasty side dish is big on creamy cheesy flavor without any dairy.
Chocolate Banana Custard:
This simple dessert is pure goodness — you won’t even know it’s vegan!
Cauliflower “Buffalo” Wings: If you love hot and spicy “Buffalo” sauce flavor, you’re in for a treat with this slimming vegan rendition.
Lentil Sloppy Joes: Here’s a meatless version of the classic comfort food we all know and love.
Three Bean Chili: Hearty and filling, this vegan chili is delicious on its own or served over a baked potato.
Sweet and Sour Tofu: Give the delivery guy a night off with this easy to cook up veggie stir-fry.