By Alina Petre
People may choose a vegan diet for a variety of reasons, be it for the environment, animal ethics or health.
However, some people give the vegan diet a try purely to lose excess weight—and perhaps for good reason.
This article explains how a vegan diet can help you lose weight and shares some tips on how to follow this diet in a healthy way.
Studies Show Vegan Diets Cause Weight Loss
In addition, randomized controlled trials, the gold standard in scientific research, show that when all other factors are controlled for, vegan diets can help participants lose significant amounts of weight (6, 7).
In one study, people following a vegan diet for 18 weeks lost 9.3 pounds (4.2 kg) more than those who made no dietary changes (6).
Another study compared vegan diets to vegetarian, pescatarian, semi-vegetarian and omnivorous diets.
Participants assigned to the vegan group lost an average of 7.5 percent of their body weight over the 4-month study period. This was more than twice as much weight as the average lost in each of the other four groups (8).
A vegan diet even appears to help people lose weight more effectively than diets commonly recommended by several different health authorities.
In fact, a low-fat vegan diet helped participants in one study lose 2 to almost 3 times more weight than diets recommended by the American Dietetics Association (ADA), the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program (1, 3, 4, 9, 10).
In a study that followed up with participants one year after the initial study period, researchers reported that all participants regained some weight.
However, those initially on the vegan diet remained 5 pounds (2.3 kg) lighter than those initially assigned to the control weight loss diet (1).
Summary: Vegan diets can help individuals lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off. They could be even more effective than diets currently recommended by certain health authorities.
Why Vegan Diets Work for Weight Loss
In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit.
A vegan diet can help you create this calorie deficit in several ways.
Higher in Fiber
For starters, a plant-based vegan diet generally contains a good amount of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
Higher fiber intake may help you achieve the calorie deficit needed for weight loss without restricting your calorie intake or portion sizes.
Studies show that consuming an extra 14 grams of fiber each day may naturally decrease your calorie intake by as much as 10 percent. This could lead to a loss of 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg) over a period of approximately 4 months (14).
Lower in Calories
Due to its higher content of fruits and vegetables, a vegan diet provides fewer calories for the same volume of food. In other words, it's less calorie-dense.
Practically speaking, you would have to eat approximately 10.5 ounces (300 grams) of cooked broccoli or about 10 ounces (283 grams) of melon to consume 100 calories.
Meanwhile, it would only take around 2 ounces (56 grams) of chicken breast or about 1 ounce (28 grams) of cheese to reach the same number of calories.
The lower calorie density of plant foods causes you to feel full with fewer calories, thus potentially contributing to the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.
However, it's important to note that when matched for calories, a vegan diet is no more effective than a control diet for weight loss (16).
Limits Your Intake of Certain Foods
Many of the foods you come across each day contain animal products.
These include high-calorie, low-nutrient options such as processed foods and baked goods, which are deceptively easy to overeat (17).
Studies show that being exposed to such foods makes you more likely to consume them (18).
Following a vegan diet can make it easier to limit or avoid these options.
For instance, it's easier to avoid eating more calories than you need when the cafe doesn't offer vegan brownies or when a bowl of candy only contains milk chocolate.
Research shows that having access to a wider variety of foods may cause you to mindlessly consume up to 23 percent more calories. By limiting your food choices to a select few, a vegan diet can help reduce your risk of overeating (19).
A vegan diet may also restrict the variety of choices you have when eating out. As a result, many vegans choose to cook at home rather than go to restaurants.
Home-cooked meals often contain less fat, sugar and overall calories than restaurant meals. This can help you limit calories and lose weight.
Summary: Vegan diets are generally richer in fiber, lower in calories and tend to limit your food options. All of these factors can help you lose weight by reducing the number of calories you eat.
Benefits and Risks
In addition to helping you lose weight, a well-planned vegan diet is nutritious and can offer a variety of health benefits.
However, a poorly planned vegan diet can raise certain risks.
Vegan Diet Benefits
When compared to diets recommended by health authorities such as the ADA, AHA and NCEP, vegan diets appear to be up to 2.4 times more effective at lowering blood sugar levels in diabetics (3, 4, 21, 22).
A diet with the ability to lower both cholesterol and blood sugar levels can be particularly beneficial, as it may lower the risk of heart disease by up to 46 percent (26).
Vegan Diet Risks
But poorly planned vegan diets can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies and poor health.
For example, vegans are more likely to suffer from a vitamin B12 deficiency. This risk seems especially apparent for vegans who don't consume vitamin B12 supplements or eat vitamin B12-fortified foods (32).
Finally, genetics may affect your ability to thrive on a vegan diet.
Similarly, some people's genetics may make it harder to maintain adequate levels of choline, a nutrient important for heart, liver and nervous system health (47).
If interested in a vegan diet, you should strongly consider tracking your nutrient intake in an online food journal and getting your blood nutrient levels measured.
You can then enrich your diet with fortified foods or supplements as needed.
Summary: Vegan diets generally contain many nutrient-rich foods that can help reduce the risk of various diseases. However, it's important to make sure your diet is well-planned to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
How to Safely Lose Weight on a Vegan Diet
Eliminating animal products from your diet doesn't automatically lead to weight loss for everybody.
Consuming a plant-based vegan diet also doesn't necessarily mean that your diet is healthy.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to maximize weight loss while ensuring that you continue to meet all your nutrient needs:
• Eat lots of veggies: Consume a wide variety of vegetables and aim to fill at least 50 percent of your plate with them at each meal.
• Pack in the protein: Include protein-rich foods, such as tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans, lentils and peas at each meal.
• Monitor fat intake: Avoid consuming large amounts of oils and fat-rich plants, such as avocados, olives, coconut, nuts and seeds, since they are high in calories.
• Limit processed foods: Minimize your intake of processed vegan foods, such as mock meats, mock cheeses and vegan desserts.
• Keep track of what you eat: Track your intake using an online food journal and get your blood nutrient levels checked to ensure you meet your nutrient needs.
• Get enough nutrients: Make sure to include fortified foods or supplements as needed, with particular attention to vitamin B12.
Summary: Following these guidelines will help you lose weight on a vegan diet without compromising your nutritional status.
Vegan Junk Food Is Still Junk Food
Not all vegan diets are equally beneficial.
Some vegan diets favor vegan junk foods such as Oreos, mock cheeses or processed grains.
These diets are unlikely to meet your daily nutrient needs or help you lose weight.
This is why a 200-calorie snack of roasted chickpeas is generally more effective at reducing hunger than the same number of calories from vegan ice cream.
The filling effect of roasted chickpeas may also prevent you from overeating later on in the day, making it easier for you to create and maintain the calorie deficit needed to lose weight.
Summary: Junk food remains junk food, whether vegan or not. For best health and weight loss results, ensure that your diet consists mainly of nutrient-rich, minimally processed plant foods.
The Bottom Line
A plant-based vegan diet can be very effective at helping you lose weight.
This especially rings true if it contains a good amount of nutrient-rich plant foods and limited amounts of highly processed or high-fat plant foods.
In addition to helping you lose weight, a vegan diet can also help improve your health in a variety of ways, as long as it remains well-planned.
If you want to try this diet, you can see whether you're meeting your nutritional needs by tracking your daily intake and checking blood nutrient levels periodically.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Taison Bell
"Hospital Capacity Crosses Tipping Point in U.S. Coronavirus Hot Spots" – Wall Street Journal
This is a headline I hoped to not see again after the number of coronavirus infections had finally started to decline in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. However, the pandemic has now shifted to the South and the West – with Arizona, Florida, California and Texas as hot spots.
Hard-Hit States Quickly Learned Value of Masks<p>As a respiratory virus, SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted mainly through droplets that leave the mouth and nose as a person talks, sneezes, coughs or exhales. It thrives in environments where there are lots of people in enclosed spaces – <a href="https://theconversation.com/aerosols-are-a-bigger-coronavirus-threat-than-who-guidelines-suggest-heres-what-you-need-to-know-142233" target="_blank">especially if they are laughing, talking, singing</a> or otherwise coming into close contact. It thrives physically in the same settings where we thrive socially.</p><p>This is why the early hard-hit areas were able to crush the curve by closing businesses and implementing stay-at-home orders. Without significant close human interaction, the coronavirus couldn't spread.</p><p>While other states are now seeing hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients, most of the Northeast is maintaining control of community spread as its economies reopen. The difference reflects, at least in part, each state's behavior expectations and the willingness of residents to keep up safety precautions like wearing masks, avoiding large crowds, maintaining social distance of at least six feet and staying isolated when they are ill or may have been exposed to the virus.</p>
How Rhode Island's Daily COVID-19 Case Numbers Fell<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ2MTAwOS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDE1MDUxMH0.Ce8r6qCwhkJm8D8vUnTl5CblhFPXj_eBIlYqJ5yobqE/img.png?width=980" id="32ce3" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f15da39d4dab6393216510dbed678840" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Northeastern states now <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/26/politics/maskwearing-coronavirus-analysis/index.html" target="_blank">lead the nation</a> in mask-wearing and adherence to other best practices. An <a href="https://www.mercurynews.com/2020/06/26/which-part-of-the-u-s-leads-the-country-in-mask-wearing/" target="_blank">Axios/Ipsos poll</a> showed that in states with high mask use, virus circulation is at <a href="https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/covid-19-coronavirus-face-masks-infection-rates-20200624.html" target="_blank">lower levels compared to states with less mask use</a>. Studies on the <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-020-0908-8" target="_blank">effects of how quickly coronavirus restrictions have been lifted</a> around the world have found that slow, careful strategies have led to fewer illnesses and deaths during reopening.</p><p>In many parts of the Northeast, the months of illnesses, deaths and the struggle to turn the COVID-19 tide are still <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/23/most-americans-say-they-regularly-wore-a-mask-in-stores-in-the-past-month-fewer-see-others-doing-it/" target="_blank">fresh in people's minds</a>. The progress isn't uniform, however. <a href="https://gothamist.com/news/coronavirus-cases-among-20-somethings-nyc-rise-prompting-de-blasio-issue-new-mask-guidance" target="_blank">New York City's mayor has expressed concern</a> about an uptick in positive cases among people in their 20s.</p>
The Problems of a Political Divide<p>Elsewhere in the country, the current surge in COVID-19 cases <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-surges-of-the-coronavirus-across-the-nation-could-force-more-shutdowns/2020/06/12/e6985b94-acd9-11ea-a9d9-a81c1a491c52_story.html" target="_blank">began to pick up after Memorial Day weekend</a>, when people in several states that hadn't seen the same toll from the pandemic let their guard down. <a href="https://theconversation.com/covid-19-messes-with-texas-what-went-wrong-and-what-other-states-can-learn-as-younger-people-get-sick-141563" target="_blank">Video and pictures</a> showed parties, barbecues, crowded beaches and political rallies – all with very little social distancing or mask-wearing – giving more fuel for the coronavirus to spread.</p><p>Despite the overwhelming evidence for what we should be doing, following the advice of public health experts has also, sadly, become politicized. Depending on the news sources people listen to, they might hear warnings from health officials being taken seriously or being dismissed by pundits and politicians.</p><p>A <a href="https://www.axios.com/axios-ipsos-poll-coronavirus-index-15-weeks-e4eb53cc-9bc8-4cac-8285-07e5e5ef6b2b.html" target="_blank">recent national poll</a> shows that Democrats report consistently wearing a mask 68% of the time, while Republicans reported doing the same only 34% of the time. The national conversation has devolved into a false dichotomy: Either you're on the side of prioritizing safety or you're on the side of personal freedom and opening the economy.</p><p>In reality, the two should be partners, as these preventative measures are the best tools we have to reach our common goals of reopening businesses and schools safely. It's the same reason we stop at stoplights and go through metal detectors at the airport – we make a small sacrifice for the greater public good.</p><p>For the foreseeable future, Americans will have to collectively agree to live life a little differently. Until we can all agree on this, the coronavirus will continue to have the upper hand, and our health and wealth will suffer.</p>
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By Zahida Sherman
Cooking has always intimidated me. As a child, I would anxiously peer into the kitchen as my mother prepared Christmas dinner for our family.
Falling in Love With Food All Over Again<p>Slowly, through my most intimate relationships with friends and partners, I began to see the beauty — and rewards — of cooking.</p><p>I got tired of giving in to defeat and always bringing chips or paper products to social gatherings. I started asking my mom to send me her Christmas and Thanksgiving recipes. I even volunteered to host Thanksgiving dinner at my place.</p><p>Each time I heard my loved ones sing the praises of the foods I prepared for them, I felt a tinge more confident that I could carry out our traditions my way.</p><p>In reaching out to other relatives for their favorite recipes, I learned that they had a little help of their own. They didn't rely solely on their ancestral cooking instincts. They turned to Black chefs for guidance.</p><p>These 7 cookbooks by Black chefs have inspired my family and fed us in nutrients, joy, and spiritual sustenance. They're also helping me overcome my personal fears of cooking.</p>
Get CookingWhether you're in recovery from cooking fears like me, or are just looking to expand your culinary confidence with dishes honoring Black heritage, these Black chefs are here to support you on your journey.Turn on some music, give yourself permission to make mistakes, and throw down for yourself or your loved ones. Glorious flavors await you.
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By Tara Lohan
The conclusion to decades of work to remove a dam on the Middle Fork Nooksack River east of Bellingham, Washington began with a bang yesterday as crews breached the dam with a carefully planned detonation. This explosive denouement is also a beginning.
The History<p>The Middle Fork Nooksack drains glacier-fed headwater streams that run off the icy summit of 10,778-foot Mt. Baker. The Middle Fork joins the North Fork and then the mainstem of the Nooksack River, which travels to Bellingham Bay and Puget Sound. The entire Nooksack watershed stretches 830 square miles across Washington and into British Columbia.</p>
A Plan Comes Together<p>The Middle Fork dam is not a pool dam built for water storage. Much of the time, water flows over the top until dam operators drop a floodgate to divert water to new locations. That water travels about 14 miles through tunnel and pipeline to Mirror Lake, then Anderson Creek, and to Lake Whatcom before finally being delivered to residents' taps.</p><p>Before removing the dam, engineers had to move the water intake 700 feet upstream and situate it at an elevation that still enabled city water withdrawals throughout the year, regardless of flow conditions.</p><p>They also needed to make sure that the rushing water didn't sweep up fish and accidentally send them through the water-supply system.</p><p>"The solution required a fairly complex design in the intake structure, including a fish exit pipe out of that structure to put fish back into the river in a way that meets current environmental permit standards," explains LaCroix.</p>
Project layout for the removal of the Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam and rebuilding of water intake. City of Bellingham<p>Despite the cost and the work, she says, being able to continue to meet their municipal water obligations while opening up habitat for threatened species has been a win-win.</p><p>"I think there's a lot of benefits to having a dam removal versus fish passage — the main one being that you get a free-flowing river that can be a dynamic ecosystem and change over time," she says. "A static fish ladder just can't provide that same level of ecosystem benefit."</p>
Restoration Success<p>Despite local authorities' championing dam removal on the Middle Fork, the project has largely flown under the radar, overshadowed in the Pacific Northwest by heated discussions about a much larger potential project — removing <a href="https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/feds-reject-removal-of-4-snake-river-dams-in-key-report/" target="_blank">four federal hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River</a>, a major tributary of the Columbia River.</p><p>Proponents of dam removal there see it as the best chance for recovering threatened salmon populations, including Chinook, which could help starving Southern Resident killer whales. Those dams also provide irrigation water, barge navigation and hydropower, so there's been more pushback against removal efforts.</p><p>Previous dam removals around the country, however, have proved successful at aiding fish recovery and river restoration.</p><p>Most notably the 1999 demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/edwards-dam-removal/" target="_blank">Edwards Dam on Maine's Kennebec River</a> restored the annual run of alewives, a type of herring essential to the food web. The fish run has gone from zero to 5 million in the two decades since dam removal. Blueback herring, striped bass, sturgeon and shad have also extended their reach. And the resurgence has brought back osprey, bald eagles and other wildlife, too.</p><p>The overwhelming success of river restoration on the Kennebec helped to spur a nationwide dam removal movement that's now seen 1,200 dams come down since 1999. Last year a record <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/conservation-resource/a-record-26-states-removed-dams-in-2019/" target="_blank">90 dams</a> were removed in 26 states, including <a href="https://therevelator.org/cleveland-forest-dam-removal/" target="_blank">20 dams in California's Cleveland National Forest</a>.</p>
Spider excavators remove on dam on San Juan Creek in California's Cleveland National Forest. Julie Donnell, USFS<p>The results have been seen in the Pacific Northwest, as well, which boasts the largest dam removal thus far in the country. In 2011 and 2014, the demolition of <a href="https://therevelator.org/elwha-dam-removal/" target="_blank">two dams</a> on Elwha River, which runs through Washington's Olympic National Park, opened up 70 miles of habitat that had been blocked for a century. Scientists have started seeing all five species of salmon native to the river coming back, particularly Chinook and coho. Bull trout, they've observed, have increased in size since the dams were removal.</p>
Benefits on the Middle Fork Nooksack<p>McEwan hopes to see a similar outcome on the Middle Fork.</p><p>Like the Elwha the Middle Fork Nooksack is a relatively pristine river with little development, and dam removal is expected to provide a big boost to fish. The additional miles of spawning habitat are important, but so is the temperature of that water.</p><p>The dam removal will open access to cold upstream waters, which are ideal for salmon and getting harder to come by as climate change warms waters and reduces mountain runoff.</p><p>"This is really great for the climate change resiliency for these species," says McEwan.</p><p>Steelhead will get back 45% of their historic habitat in the river, and scientists expect Chinook populations to increase in abundance by 31%.</p><p>That <em>could</em> help Southern Resident killer whales.</p><p>"When you get to the ocean, it's a little bit of a black box in terms of what you can model and say definitively is going to help, but more fish is better for orcas," McEwan says.</p><p>Upstream habitat will see benefits, too.</p><p>Oceangoing fish like salmon enrich their bodies with carbon and nitrogen while at sea. When they return to their natal rivers to spawn and die, the marine-derived nutrients they carry back upriver become important food and fertilizer for both riverine and terrestrial ecosystems — aiding everything from trees to birds to bears.</p><p>"Once the fish start making their way back, it will start changing the whole ecological system," says Delgado.</p><p><span></span>But any ecological benefit from salmon restoration, either in the ocean or the upper watershed, won't be immediate.<br></p><p>"The population of salmon on the Middle Fork is so low that we expect it's going to take quite a while to rebound," she says. "But the big picture is that what's good for salmon is good for the region — our history and our destiny are intricately intertwined."</p><p>After decades of work, that process of restoration has finally begun.</p>
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By Katie Howell
A new tool called The Food Systems Dashboard aims to save decision makers time and energy by painting a complete picture of a country's food system. Created by the Johns Hopkins' Alliance for a Healthier World, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Dashboard compiles food systems data from over 35 sources and offers it as a public good.