Veganism is gaining steam all around the world, against the backdrop of growing health concerns against processed foods and their repercussions on health. The added chorus against climate change and the impact of animal rearing on the environment may also be a contributing factor in the rise of popularity of veganism and vegan food. Food allergies, religious convictions and specific health reasons may also prompt people to go the vegan way. Veganism is a diet that shuns meat and meat products, dairy and dairy products, as well as all refined and processed foods, in the favour of more natural, plant-based and organic food products. Vegans consume foods that are mainly derived from plants and are free of animal products. But if you are someone who has been planning to go vegan or has to make the switch for health reasons immediately, you may want to be ready for some common hassles.
A lot of people may find that adapting to a vegan lifestyle isn't very easy, not the least because vegan foods and food products are expensive. Veganism also requires a whole lot of planning and prepping, as well as some research. This is because vegan products, especially those that guarantee quality, may not be very widely available. Take sweeteners, for example. Vegans may not have a lot of options available when it comes to sweetening their foods and beverages, but there are some natural alternatives to refined sugar that vegans may choose from.
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Healthy Vegan Diet: Best Vegan Sweeteners
1. Dates or date syrup
One of the best sweeteners that vegans can use in their desserts and dishes is the date syrup. Although it's not technically syrup, this is made by simply grinding de-seeded dates in lukewarm water. Dates are rich in dietary fibre, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. Date syrup can be added to all your desserts for a sweet taste and it makes for the safest, most nutritious vegan sweetener, as it is made at home from a dried fruit.
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Vegan Diet: Date syrup natural sweetener
2. Maple Syrup
This natural sweetener is derived from the sap of the maple tree and most of the world's maple syrup comes from Quebec in Canada. Depending on when the sap is harvested, the colour of the maple syrup may vary and the products are categorised as per their colour. Maple syrup is said to be healthier than refined sugar due to the presence of antioxidants and minerals present in it. Maple syrup is extremely rich in manganese and it also contains some amounts of potassium, calcium, zinc and iron.
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3. Coconut Sugar
It is touted to be lower on the glycemic index as compared to regular sugar and may be a good natural alternative to refined sugars. Coconut sugar is derived from the coconut palm tree, by collecting the liquid sap inside the coconut flower. The sap is subjected to heat until all the water is evaporated. Coconut sugar is said to even retain some of the nutrients of coconut palm, most notably, potassium, calcium, zinc and iron.
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4. Brown Rice Syrup
This sweetener made from brown rice is prepared by breaking down starch present in the grains, which results in easily digestible sugars. Brown rice syrup may be considered better than normal sugars, due to the absence of fructose.
Vegans must consult their nutritionist or a certified dietitian about which sweetener is the best for them, or for their particular health condition and then make the right pick.
(This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.)