Admittedly, its difficult to keep straight. Some vegetarians eat fish occasionally but no red meat and no dairy products. Then there are the lacto-ovo vegetarians that eat eggs and dairy but no meat or fish. But vegans eat no animal products whatsoever. Strict vegans also avoid wearing clothing and shoes made from animal products, so they avoid leather, fur, wool, goose down comforters, etc.
Going from a regular ole diet common with African Americans to “vegan” requires that you begin to be more aware of your food choices. You’ll have to pay attention to food labels, and really read the list of ingredients before you eat or buy anything.
Animal fats and proteins are in many dishes hidden as whey, casein, lipase, polysorbates, FD&C food colorings, hydrolyzed protein, honey, lactic acid, milk protein, and vitamin enriched foods (unless they say vegan sources) are some of the most common.
The list below provides the general outline of a plant based vegan diet, and specifies the foods which are excluded. In other words you do not eat these foods if you’re on a vegan eating plan.
Meat, Poultry and Fish: Both “red” and “white” meats contain artery clogging cholesterol. Many African Americans have already eschewed pork, but still eat beef and poultry. However, most meats have a surprising amount of fat, including saturated (“bad”) fat, which is linked to heart problems, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes. There are many published reports regarding concerns for public safety over farmed fish and the high levels of contaminants in the flesh of these animals. A study done at Wake Forest University School of Medicine reported that “the combination of fatty acids in tilapia could pose a danger for some patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other allergic and auto-immune diseases, all of which are linked to chronic inflammation.” In fact, the investigators said that the fatty acid profile of tilapia is worse than that of 80-percent-lean hamburger, doughnuts and even bacon.
Dairy Products (Milk, Cheese and Yogurt): Dairy products have lactose sugar (55% of the calories in nonfat milk), saturated fat (except in nonfat products), and animal protein. Though we are encouraged by nutritionists to eat dairy products for calcium, most Asians and African Americans have problems digesting milk sugars and are considered to be “lactose intolerant.”
That’s okay because there is plenty of calcium in green leafy vegetables, beans, fortified juices, and many other foods.
Eggs: Eggs have two undesirable parts: the yolk and the white. Egg yolks are loaded with cholesterol — 213 mg in a single egg; that’s as much as in an 8-oz. steak. Egg yolks also contain saturated fat. Egg whites are made of animal protein, which can contribute to calcium losses and kidney problems in certain populations. Salmonella outbreaks, inhumane treatment of the chickens, and disgustingly unsanitary laying pens have all been reported as concerns with the commercial egg industry.
Finally, though allowed in a vegan diet, the items below should be used sparingly, or eaten only on special occasions.
Limit oily or fried foods. Yes, plant oils are vegetarian. Most are low in saturated fat, but vegetable oils are as high in calories as animal fats. If you’re trying to lose a few pounds, be mindful of the fats you add to food, and the fat content of purchased items. Researchers at Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have also linked regular consumption of deep-fried foods to an increased risk of prostate cancer, specifically a more aggressive form of the cancer. They looked at men who ate deep-fried foods regularly. Specifically, the items were French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, doughnuts, and snack chips. Those who ate one or more servings of fries, fried chicken, or doughnuts per week had a 30% to 37% higher risk of prostate cancer than those who ate less than one serving per week.
Avoid sugary foods. Yes, technically they are vegetarian or vegan, but they provide a lot of calories and not much else in the way of nutrition. Again, if you’re trying to lose a few pounds for your health, sugary foods should be avoided.
Avoid hydrogenated trans fats. These fats, like saturated fats found in meat, have been linked to increased risk of heart disease. According to staff at the world famous Mayo Clinic, trans fats raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Commercial baked goods — such as crackers, cookies and cakes — and many fried foods, such as doughnuts and french fries — may contain loads of trans fats. Shortenings and some margarines can be high in trans fat as well.
Category: Veganism and African Americans