Beyoncé has announced that she will be going vegan for the 44 days leading up to Coachella. While Beyoncé, of course, is headlining the big festival, Coachella’s reputation as a sort of “Desert Fashion Week” has led to a rise in the so-called Coachella Diets among attendees, too. That means Beyoncé isn’t alone in her plant-based food pursuits.
Instagram and its endless stream of gorgeous vegan bowls would have you believe that going vegan is the best way to slim down and gain an other-worldly glow. But is veganism really safe, and should you follow Beyoncé’s lead to slim down for swimsuit season? Here’s a quick primer on the difference between “good vegan” and “bad vegan” diets.
What is veganism?
A vegan diet is 100% plant-based and composed entirely of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds and other products that leave animals out of the equation. Many people believe that eating vegan is better for our bodies and the planet.
Vegans abstain from eating more than just meat. Fish, eggs, dairy, and even honey and gelatin, are out of the picture. While the diet may seem restrictive at first, vegans can enjoy a complete diet comprised of plant-based protein sources like tofu and tempeh, nut-based milks, beans, lentils and all the leafy greens they can eat.
It’s important to note that people go vegan for a number of reasons. Some, like Beyoncé, do so to get into shape for festival season. Others do it purely for ethical reasons or to improve their health. Some people lose weight on a vegan diet, but the trick here is still the same as any other diet: reducing your caloric intake, exercising and limiting sugar, additives and saturated fats.
Veganism is becoming more popular
According to One Green Planet, veganism is gaining some serious momentum, with roughly six percent of Americans actively identifying as vegan. More and more, we’re learning about the many health benefits associated with relying primarily on plants to deliver key nutrients. In fact, a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Beyoncé is only a part-time vegan, but plenty of famous folks—from Natalie Portman to Miley Cyrus, Ellen DeGeneres and Joaquin Phoenix—have taken up the cause on a permanent basis. While celebrity endorsements aren’t the best reason to make a lifestyle change, the famous faces certainly bring more visibility to veganism.
Is veganism healthy?
Like any approach to eating, there’s a right way to go vegan and a wrong way. You’re probably familiar with at least one person in your life who doesn’t consume animal products but loads up on chips and proudly declares that “Yes, Oreos, are in, fact vegan.” In that case, you’re not going to reap the benefits of going plant-based.
The focus should be more on whole food nutrition than chomping down on Amy’s Frozen Burritos or other microwavable options. Emphasizing fruits and vegetables will help you get tons of antioxidants, vitamins and micronutrients. The key here is eating foods that represent the full “rainbow” colors and mixing things up. Make salads that feature a range of veggies, nuts and seeds, learn a new tofu recipe and get into making smoothie bowls. Variety is both the spice of life and a way to ensure you’re getting diverse nutrients into your body.
Jamie Oliver highlights an important point by emphasizing protein and other key nutrients while on a vegan diet. When you cut out whole food groups, you increase your chances of missing out on Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Iron and amino acids. You may need to add supplements or fill your plate with fortified foods to ensure your nutrition. Oliver put it this way: “Many people see the word ‘vegan’ on the label and they assume it must be super healthy – wrong. Even if it’s vegan, it’s just as important to look at the ingredients list and the nutrition information to see how much fat, sugar and salt something contains.”
When it’s all said and done, there’s a big difference between being a “good vegan” and a “bad vegan”.If veganism is an excuse to load up on pasta, then it’s probably not a smart move. But if your vegan diet features lots of colorful foods—think, fruits, veggies and grains—then it can be part of a healthy lifestyle overall. Just make sure you get enough protein or supplement with one of these protein powders we recommend.