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    Do Vegans Really Live Longer?

    Do Vegans Really Live Longer?

    Veganism has been gaining a lot of popularity over the last couple of years. Today, plant-based products account for more than 20% of food and beverage dollars spent by Americans, 44% of which are because of beef alternatives. In fact, a recent survey found that most Americans are even willing to give lab-grown meat a try.

    This newfound popularity comes at a time when people are getting more conscious about their health – specifically towards bad eating habits. The New York Times wrote an article linking red meat to 8 diseases including cancer. The article found that those who ate a large amount of red meat had a 26% increase of “dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease and liver disease.” This reflects a growing trend discussed on Maryville University that points to a rise in chronic illnesses being linked to lifestyle choices. With this research becoming more widely accepted this article will examine some of the benefits of veganism, and how it can contribute to a longer, healthier life.

    Veganism and Diabetes

    Research by West Virginia University has revealed that around 690 million people will be living with diabetes by the end of 2045. Fortunately, 90% of diabetes diagnoses (type 2) are lifestyle-related, which means that there are natural ways to prevent the progress of the disease. Diabetes is a case of excessive sugar levels – something that can be mitigated by a vegan diet. In particular, those with pre-diabetes are encouraged to consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, nuts, pulses, and seeds to help regulate sugar levels while maintaining enough energy to still perform daily activities.

    Veganism and A Healthy Heart

    Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes are responsible for more than 30% of the total number of deaths worldwide. Additionally, every year, more people are being diagnosed with cardiovascular problems. The good news is that like diabetes, heart health problems are related to lifestyle factors like weight, making them preventable. Body weight and blood pressure are directly linked, and it’s easier to control both when you’re on a fiber-rich plant-based diet.

    Animal vs Plant-based Protein

    It’s common knowledge that the body needs protein. However, in our post on ‘How Animal Protein Affects the Nervous System’, we discussed how meat – the most common protein source – may not be the best way to get the nutrition our bodies need. Not only are there ethical concerns associated with animal protein, but excessive amounts of it are also not good for our organs.

    A diet rich in animal protein or meat is associated with a greater risk of early death. When you eat too much protein, your body produces a lot of ammonia – a substance that’s especially stressful on the liver. If not regulated, your liver will reach a point where it will solely focus on breaking down ammonia, rather than cleansing your body of other toxins.

    Thankfully, there are many vegan alternatives to protein. Tofu, chickpeas, peanuts, potatoes, and other animal-free sources contain all the protein your body needs to survive.

    Don’t get us wrong – there’s definitely more to longevity than just switching to a plant-based diet. However, veganism is more than a diet; it’s a lifestyle. Because vegans are so used to eating healthy, they’re naturally inclined towards maintaining other healthy lifestyle choices, like avoiding excessive alcohol or exercising regularly. And if you can do the same, you’ll have greater chances at living a longer and more energetic life.

    Written exclusively for Veganpoweredathlete.com

    by Jewel Friedman

    How to Travel Internationally as a Vegan

    How to Travel Internationally as a Vegan

    Traveling around the world can be an incredible, eye-opening experience. Whether it is backpacking through Asia, visiting the capitals of different European cities, or exploring the United States as a vegan athlete, traveling is very rewarding.

    But many vegans are hesitant to travel to parts of the world that are unfamiliar, as they are unsure if they will be able to find food and beverages that accommodate their diet. Here are some tips that can help vegans when they are traveling internationally.

    Pack Snacks

    When traveling on a plane, train or bus, it is a good idea to pack snacks. Since many airlines have restrictions on liquids, packing solid snacks is the best approach. Vegan snack bars, nut mixes, and dry fruits are great options for travel snacks.

    Not only does packing snacks allow vegans to enjoy the foods they are used to eating, but it can be a huge money saver as well. Most airports and train stations have a significant markup on the most basic food and drink items. Packing snacks can save a lot of money while traveling around the world!

    Learn Some Key Words

    Visiting a country where one does not speak the language is always a bit of a challenge. But there are ways around the language barrier. Try to learn a few basic words related to the vegan lifestyle. For instance, words and phrases such as vegan, vegetables, no meat, and organic can be helpful to know in the native language.

    Find the Vegan Trademark

    The Vegan Society is one of the oldest vegan organizations in the world. If one notices the Vegan Trademark on a product, it is clear that it is a safe product for vegans to consume.

    Study the Local Cuisine

    Do some homework before visiting a different country. Learn about the local cuisine and try to see if any vegan elements are present. And do not be afraid to ask restaurants about the ingredients used in a dish.

    Countries such as Germany and India have significant options for vegans within the local cuisine. And it is always great to try new plant-based dishes from different cultures, as it can open up a vegan to recipes they had not considered before.

    Research Vegan Restaurants

    Part of the pre-traveling research should focus on vegan restaurants in a city. Most major cities around the world will have 100 percent vegan options. It is a great feeling to go into a restaurant in a foreign country and know that everything on the menu is vegan!

    Keep It Simple

    It is not always possible to find out every ingredient in a dish at a restaurant. Or understand what items on the menu are vegan. If there is any doubt, try to keep it simple.

    Opt for dishes that are easily understandable and contain few ingredients. Salads are a great choice in a pinch. And if there is access to a grocery store, simple meals such as peanut butter sandwiches are also a good option.

    Find Outdoor Markets

    When traveling within a big city, try to scope out some of the popular outdoor markets. These spots are great for finding fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and other vegan-friendly foods.

    Another perk of outdoor markets is how the food is a lot cheaper. It is fresh, high-quality food that can be eaten right there and then. What could be better than sampling nature’s best foods at an outdoor marketing in a new city?

    By following these steps, any vegan traveler can experience new cuisines, find comfort food and ensure they are remaining faithful to the vegan lifestyle while experiencing different cities and countries!

    6 Ways to Put on Extra Mass with a Vegan Diet

    6 Ways to Put on Extra Mass with a Vegan Diet

    A vegan diet is most commonly associated with losing weight or attempting to live a healthier lifestyle. But there is no reason why someone should force themselves to consume animal products if they want to put on extra mass.

    Through a plant-based vegan diet, anyone who is attempting to put on weight or build muscle mass can do so in a safe and healthy way. Since there are so many diverse food options available within a vegan diet, putting on mass is a lot easier than most assume.

    And the best part is that one does not need to consume unhealthy or unethical foods, such as red meat, cheese or poultry. Here are six ways to put on mass through a vegan diet.

    1. Set Realistic Goals

    Whether someone sets a target to gain 20 pounds through fat or muscle, goals should always be realistic. Too many people set targets they would have a hard time achieving, leading to disappointment. Gaining one to two pounds a week is a safe target when bulking.

    Much like losing weight, bulking is about the numbers. It takes 3500 extra calories to gain a pound, which means someone who wants to gain a pound a week must eat roughly 500 calories a day more than what they are burning.

    2. Eat Real Meals

    The worst thing that a person can do when they are attempting to bulk up on a vegan diet is to eat processed foods. The whole idea behind a vegan lifestyle is that it is healthy and ethical.

    Those two words do not apply to processed foods! Processed meals also have many hidden sugars and other harmful ingredients, which can impact one’s dietary goals.

    3. Watch Macros

    Gaining weight through lean muscle mass or a combination of muscle and fat requires a dedicated diet. It is not only about eating a lot, but eating the right combinations of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.

    Lean muscle mass is built when a person eats more calories than they burn, but also eats the food that fuels muscle growth, maintenance and recovery. Foods such as oats and sweet potatoes are very helpful when bulking.

    4. Get All the Nutrients

    Calories are the goal during bulking phases. But it does not mean that fruits and vegetables should be ignored. Getting the entire rainbow of these foods will help maintain micronutrient levels in the body, providing a vegan athlete with enough vitamins, potassium, iron and other vital micros.

    5. Vegan Protein Powder

    Despite plenty of vegan foods, such as chickpeas, nuts, quinoa, beans and tofu, offering valuable protein to the body, supplements can be necessary during a bulking phase. Adding vegan protein powder to fruit and vegetable smoothies is one way to add a dose of healthy, muscle building calories to one’s diet.

    Options such as pea, hemp, pumpkin seed, soy and sunflower seed protein ensure that vegans are able to get natural and healthy doses of protein through powders, without needing to resort to consuming whey protein.

    6. Snacking

    It is tempting to consume two or three massive meals while bulking, but it can leave one feeling lethargic and overfilled. Since vegans who are bulking want to maintain their lifestyle, which includes exercising, working and enjoying life, snacking is the best way to get extra calories while bulking. Snacks such as dried fruits, nuts and seeds are a great way to get a quick dose of 100 to 200 calories throughout the day, without the need to consume massive meals.

    By following these steps, vegans can ensure they are putting on extra mass in a healthy and safe way.

    How Animal Protein Affects the Nervous System

    How Animal Protein Affects the Nervous System

    Our bodies need protein to survive – that much is clear. We need protein for every cell and organ in our body, but that does not mean we need a ton of protein either. And it does not mean that animal protein is the best source of that nutrition our body needs to survive. Not only are there ethical concerns associated with having animal protein, but recent studies are showing that animal protein are bad for our bodies.

    Animal Protein and the Nervous System

    It is not often that you hear about the nervous system and animal protein in the same sentence. However, recent work has shown that excessive animal protein is not good for the body’s nervous system and brain. When you are eating a high amount of animal protein, your body is producing a lot of ammonia. When that ammonia is in your body, your liver has to work harder to render the ammonia harmless to the other cells and organs. If you continue to eat a lot of animal protein, your liver is getting overworked, which can lead to ammonia and other toxins not being properly cleansed before spreading through the body.

    Most people who get their protein from animals tend to consume too much. We all think that we need more protein than we do, even if we are working out. If a person is consuming red meat on most days, and getting other animal protein in their diet from fish, eggs or chicken, they are over-consuming. And when there is overconsumption, it leads to a bogged down and overworked liver.

    When the liver is bogged down, it means that some toxins in the body are just sitting there, as the liver deals with other ones. Think about it like a highway with a lot of traffic, where cars have to go through a toll booth before they can move forward. If there is heavy traffic in all the lanes, the toll booth gets backed up. Now think about your body as that highway, with the liver as the toll booth. That is what happens when you are eating too much animal protein. That ammonia, and other toxins, will keep sitting in your body causing harm.

    Another issue that arises from the excessive ammonia in the body is a decline in brain and nervous system function. The condition is known as hepatic encephalopathy. There are a number of symptoms that show the patient is going through hepatic encephalopathy, and the condition is directly associated with liver dysfunction.

    What is Hepatic Encephalopathy?

    It is not one problem, but a spectrum of neuropsychiatric abnormalities that occur in patients that have liver problems. The patient could go through many changes, such as a shift in personality, intellectual impairment, depressed levels of consciousness, and more.

    It is a scary condition, and it is one that is now being linked to animal protein. When we think about our body’s liver, we usually think about excessive alcohol consumption as the major problem. And while that is still the case, we now have to consider that getting protein from beef, chicken and other animal sources could be part of the problem.

    Most people know that animal protein is bad for our heart, while it can cause issues such as high cholesterol, cancer and diabetes. But the nervous system information is new for many. It should serve as a wakeup call, and a sign that pursuing a vegan lifestyle may be about health as much as it is about compassion and the environment.

    Understanding Our Need for a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

    Understanding Our Need for a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables

    Eating a good balance of fruits and vegetables is a vital component of having a healthy, vegan diet. Many vegans incorrectly believe their action of giving up animal-based products is enough to be considered healthy.

    While quitting animal foods is great for both health and moral reasons, it is not enough to have a healthy diet. Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables is key to a healthy diet for a vegan athlete or any vegan.

    Eat the Rainbow

    Many people are confused when they are told by dieticians or their friends to “eat the rainbow” when it comes to fruits and vegetables. People want specific information about what fruits and vegetables are the healthiest.

    But the truth is that no single fruit or vegetable is the “healthiest” option out of them all. Each type of fruit and vegetable will have its own reasons for being part of a healthy, plant-based diet.

    And using the color of fruits and vegetables can be a useful way to get variety in one’s diet. The colors of these foods often correspond to the types of nutrients they contain. So, adding all the colors of fruits and vegetables into the weekly grocery basket could do a lot to improve people’s vegan diets.

    Colors and Nutrients

    Fruits and vegetables get their colors from chemicals called phytochemicals. And these chemicals have special qualities that result in those fruits and vegetables having specific nutrients.

    For instance, red foods have many antioxidants. Tomatoes, red berries and pomegranates will have antioxidants such as lycopene, anthocyanins and/or ellagic acid.

    Orange foods are very high in carotenoids. These nutrients can help add more vitamin A to the body and can be found in items such as sweet potatoes and carrots. Vitamin A is crucial for having great skin and a healthier immune system.

    Yellow foods have beta-carotenes, which also deliver vitamin A. They will also have a high concentration of beta-cryptoxanthin, which is a carotenoid with very good antioxidant qualities. Foods such as grapefruits, lemons, button squash and sweet corn are said to help with developing inflammatory conditions.

    And green leafy vegetables, often lacking in the average diet, have a lot of fiber and minerals. Adding a lot of spinach, kale broccoli and green beans to the vegan diet is very helpful for overall health.

    Variety Means a Healthier Life

    Studies have shown that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is the key to having a healthy and longer life. A study showed that individuals who were eating different types of fruit and vegetables were less likely to develop lung cancer.

    It is also linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. These studies not only show that fruits and vegetables are healthy, but that increasing variety is healthier even if the quantity remains the same.

    It stands to reason that having one plate full of spinach and kale would be less beneficial than a plate that is full of spinach, carrots, sweet corn and tomatoes. Vegetables offer protection against disease, while fruits also have many healthy and antioxidant properties.

    Blending Fruits and Vegetables

    Even most vegans would admit that getting the recommended servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day can be a challenge. It is why blending has become so popular as a healthy alternative.

    Unlike juicing, blending fruits and vegetables not only provides all their nutrients, but also allows vegans to consume the fiber that is present in these foods. Any vegan athlete who is struggling to eat enough quantity and variety of fruits and vegetables may want to start blending a “green smoothie” for themselves each morning or a powerful smoothie bowl in the afternoon.