Thinking of Going Vegan?Ready to go vegan? The basic guidelines for a vegan diet are simple: eat only plant-based foods and say goodbye to all animal products. (That includes dairy, eggs, gelatin, and yes, honey.) Properly implementing a healthy vegan diet takes some planning; after all, a diet consisting totally of french fries and blueberry Pop-Tarts would be vegan but decidedly not healthy. However, a vegan diet that is a well-thought-out and that incorporates a wide variety of vegan proteins and a full scope of nutrients can be exceedingly healthy and nutritious.
How a Vegan Diet Can Boost Whole Body Well-BeingGoing vegan provides an incredible range of health benefits, from improving your immune system and mental health to helping your weight loss efforts. (1) (2) For starters, the lack of animal fats in a vegan diet can have profound health benefits. Studies have linked the consumption of animal fats with many medical conditions including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and even certain cancers such as prostate and colorectal. (3) Vegans have also been shown to be more efficient at absorbing calcium, leading to better bone metabolism and a reduction in bone health conditions. (4) Those who follow a vegan diet also tend to be a healthier weight than those who don't, with lower body mass indexes and reduced risk for obesity. (5) In turn, this leads to lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol and reduced risk of stroke. Veganism can even have a positive effect on your mental health. One clinical study found that meat eaters who switched to a meatless diet experienced better mood and lower stress after only two weeks. (6)
Supporting Your Gut Health with Vegan ProbioticsIt's well-known that many of the most common probiotic sources—yogurt, cheese, kefir, buttermilk—are dairy products and thus don't have a place in a vegan diet. But don't despair! There is a wide range of food sources that provide good gut bacteria without needing to rely on animal products. Here are some of the best vegan sources of probiotics.
KimchiPopular in Korean cuisine, kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish known for its spices. Along with probiotics, kimchi can offer an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins for those adhering to a vegan diet. (But watch out: kimchi in restaurants can include seafood, so check before you add it to your plate.)
Water KefirTraditional kefir is an excellent source of probiotics, but it also is a milk-based drink, making it unsuitable for vegans. On the other hand, water kefir is a delicious and dairy-free alternative. Instead of dairy, water kefir grains are used to ferment juice, coconut water, or sugar water to create a mild-flavored, sweet and healthy drink.
KombuchaIf you like the idea of drinking your beneficial bacteria, kombucha tea provides another excellent vegan-friendly option. This fermented tea has become very popular in recent years, making it much easier to find everywhere from supermarkets to coffee shops. (That's right: you don't need to trek to the health food store for this one.) If you're feeling adventurous, you can make your own with a SCOBY (or symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) starter.
Sourdough BreadServed with soup or as part of a sandwich, sourdough bread is one of the most delicious probiotic-rich foods. The beneficial bacteria in this bread come from its sourdough starter, the combination of water and flour that is allowed to ferment for at least several days. Keep in mind, however, that not all types of sourdough bread has probiotics; you'll need to check the ingredients to be sure. If the recipe doesn't call for a fermented starter culture (and many store-bought brands don't), you won't find any live bacteria inside.
Miso SoupIf you're looking for something to go with your sourdough bread, how about taking some cues from Japanese cuisine and trying some miso soup? Besides being rich in antioxidants and vitamin B, miso soup has several different strains of beneficial bacteria. But be careful: use only warm water when cooking miso soup, as hot water will kill all the probiotic bacteria.
Soy Products like TempehSoy is a staple of many vegan diets thanks to its ability to act as a healthier yet delicious meat substitute. Certain soy products have the added benefit of being probiotic-rich. Tempeh is one such food. Similar to tofu, this soy-based protein goes through a fermentation process, rendering it high in beneficial bacteria. Thanks to its firm texture, tempeh works well in dishes as diverse as stir-fry and burgers. We suggest buying organic + non-GMO, soy-based products to limit toxins like fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides.
Are Lactobacillus Casei & Bifidobacterium Lactis Vegan?You may have heard of the probiotic strains L. casei and B. lactis and questioned whether or not they are vegan. Casein (a milk protein) and lactose (a milk sugar) are found in dairy products, however, while L. casei and B. lactis have similar names—even the "lacto" in Lactobacillus may worry you—these bacterial strains do not have lactose or casein. Both are naturally occurring bacteria that populate and help to balance the gut microbiome. Any Lactobacillus strain is are part of a group of bacteria that convert sugars to lactic acid. Lactic acid is also made by muscles and red blood cells in the body. When oxygen levels are low—such as during periods of intense excerise—carbohydrates are broken down for energy, producing lactic acid. (7) Among other uses, Lactobacillus bacteria are used in the fermentation of certain food products (both dairy and non-dairy). Lactobacillus bacteria can also be grown on a dairy medium, however, this is not always the case, and when it is, the dairy is removed in processing. (8)
Finding a Vegan Probiotic SupplementIf you find you aren't getting enough for beneficial bacteria from the foods you eat, supplementing with a vegan probiotic is an excellent option—but be careful! Not all probiotic supplements are vegan. In fact, four out of five probiotic supplements on the market have dairy-based products. Doing your research and checking labels carefully is important for ensuring that your probiotic supplement won't interfere with your vegan lifestyle. Luckily, there are vegan probiotics out there. For example, all of LoveBug Probiotics supplements are completely vegan-friendly—no dairy or gelatin here! A vegan diet can also be low in zinc, an important mineral for immune health, which our Colds Suck probiotic supplement has.
Added Benefits of LoveBug ProbioticsIf you are vegan, you are likely very conscious of everything else you put into your body too—not just animal products. The best vegan probiotics also cut out any other undesirable ingredients. All of our probiotics are GMO, allergen, additive, sugar, and gluten-free. All we provide is billions of live cultures of beneficial bacteria with multiple effective probiotic strains to help support digestive health, immune function and more (for vegans and non-vegans alike)! Our probiotics are shelf stable for 24 months thanks to our patented delivery technology called BIO-tract®, which also increases the survivability of the live cultures by 15x! The best time of day to get the full effects of probiotics is in the morning, shortly before eating, with a glass of water. References
- Glick-Bauer, Marian and Ming-Chin Yeh. "The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection." Nutrients 6, no. 11 (2014): 4822–4838. doi: 10.3390/nu6114822.
- "6 Science-Based Health Benefits of Eating Vegan." Healthline. Accessed February 26, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vegan-diet-benefits.
- "Animal Fat." Accessed February 26, 2019. NutritionFacts.org. https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/animal-fat/.
- Craig, Winston J. "Health effects of vegan diets." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89, no. 5 (2009): 1627S–1633S. doi: https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.2009.26736N.
- Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle, Trisha Mandes, and Anthony Crimarco. "A plant-based diet for overweight and obesity prevention and treatment." J Geriatr Cardiol 14, no. 5 (2017): 369–374. doi: 10.11909/j.issn.1671-5411.2017.05.002.
- Beezhold, Bonnie L and Carol S Johnston. "Restriction of meat, fish, and poultry in omnivores improves mood: A pilot randomized controlled trial." Nutrition Journal 11, no. 9 (2012). doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-11-9.
- "Lactic Acid." Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. Last modified June 25, 2018. https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hw7871.
- Rodriguez, Elisa. "Probiotics: Health Benefits and Plant-based Options." One Green Planet. Last modified 2012. https://onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/vegan-health/probiotics-health-benefits-and-vegan-options/.