Mistake 1:

Doing it for the wrong reason such as for weight loss.

“Some think that by switching to a plant-based diet, they can lose weight. The truth is a person can gain weight while following a vegan diet if he is making the wrong choices. Some tend to over eat certain types of food that are high in sugars because they have less options with the vegan diet,” says Maya Kobeissi, registered dietician and Director of Nutrition Programmes at Integrated Rheumatology and Arthritis Centre.

Mistake 2:

Buying ready-made vegan products

“A vegan product is not necessarily a healthy product. Consuming vegan desserts, drinks and comfort foods that are packed with calories, saturated fat and sodium that don’t contain any meat or animal products, will make you gain weight and bring your health down which is simply the opposite of what you were trying to achieve when you decided to follow a vegan diet,” Kobeissi said.

Mistake 3:

Following a vegan diet to cure a disease

“Vegan diet is not the cure to any disease. It’s a commitment and a lifestyle that can help on the long run with the management of the disease but does not cure it,” Kobeissi says.

Mistake 4:

Unknowingly taking excessive grain-based or low-protein eating patterns

“Mindful eating is challenging but it cannot be compromised for the vast health benefits of veganism. Ensure to incorporate a wide range of fruits, vegetables and legumes while watching per day intake of carbs, proteins and fat,” says Juliot Vinolia, clinical dietitian.

Mistake 5:

Turning vegan food list into a monotony

“Not following a well-rounded, balanced diet can lead to vitamin deficiencies. Adding a multivitamin or specific nutrient supplements as advised by a medical professional is always recommended to completely obtain the health benefits of a vegetarian diet,” says Kobeissi.

Box 1

Making the Switch! Eat this, not that!

For those with health concerns such as diabetes, low blood count, autoimmune conditions and vitamin deficiencies, following veganism without professional guidance could compromise their health. Juliot Vinolia advises those making the switch to do it safely under a dietician’s guidance and medical supervision.

“Carbohydrates, fats and proteins being the macros can be adequately taken in a vegan/ vegetarian diet. Micronutrients like Vitamins B12, K2, D and Zinc, Calcium and Omega 3 fatty acids can be easily missed out in vegetarian meals.

“The pitfalls of vegan diets are that they can be nutritionally inadequate if one does not follow a well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods to prevent deficiencies,” Vinolia says.

Box 2

Experts’ guide to fasting for vegans in the UAE

Fasting has tremendous health benefits, so does a plant-based diet. Combining the two, how will it impact one’s health?

“Fasting in combination with vegan diet has an amazing impact on our health. Several studies in the last decade have shown to effectively manage obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease,” says Juliot Vinolia.

While following a vegan diet, one naturally consumes more fruits and vegetables which offer a wide range of antioxidants and fibre, the super nutrients for longevity.

Vegan diet helps reduce inflammatory processes in the body that lead to stroke, blood vessel disorders, arthritis and cancer.

Helps the liver to better handle glucose and fat in the body, preventing diabetes, fatty liver and gall stones.

Makes the blood less acidic helping not overload the kidneys which otherwise happens on a diet with a high-meat intake. Prevents high uric acid and creatinine levels.

Improves immune function, and prevents flaring up of auto immune disorders.

Helps one lose weight the healthy way by ruling out more animal based processed foods.

Effective bowel cleansing and improved absorption of nutrients. Fasting gives the gut its most wanted break to repair and the fibre in wholesome vegetarian foods not only sweep clean the toxic build ups in our colon but also promote the growth of good bacteria offering a good gut micro flora that prevents many chronic diseases. Recent genetic studies have proven that the gut bacteria have a greater role to play in obesity.

— Juliot Vinolia and Maya Kobeissi

Box 3

How about your suhour?

It’s important that you have suhour to limit your cravings and give your body all the energy needed for the long day of fasting. Choose foods like oatmeal with berries, topped with nuts or a cup of plant-based milk, some whole grain crackers with hummus dip topped with chia seeds.