For years, the general line concerning vegans has been: “They look emaciated and live off cardboard. And they’re annoying as hell at dinner parties.”

The thinking now: “Vegans are slim, sexy and generally healthier than people that include animal produce in their diet. Even if they’re still slightly annoying at dinner parties.”

Being a vegan involves scrapping all animal produce from your diet — no meat, no eggs, no dairy and no honey.

For a long time, the word “vegan” used to send a chill down people’s spine as they associated it with deprivation, tasteless meals, malnourishment and poor health.

Over the past two decades the global praise of protein-heavy diets such as Atkins and Dukan has left people with little faith in the vegan way of life, as most assume that by surviving off seeds, fruits, legumes, vegetables and soy, vegans lack in essential nutrients necessary for maintaining good health. Lie, say vegan chefs. It’s actually much better for your health.

Kathy Freston, author of the book Veganist, says she can prove it. A vegan for seven years, Freston made the transition from a typical southern girl raised on fried chicken to a dairy-loving vegetarian to, finally, veganist.

“Within weeks of going vegan my energy levels soared and my skin cleared,” she says. Being on a vegan diet dramatically lowers cholesterol levels (the sole source of this being animal produce) and blood sugar levels, and increases natural metabolic rate.

Although humans are omnivores, our bodies thrive on a plant-based diet that over time promotes lower rates of heart disease and obesity.

“A plant-based diet has a high thermal effect as calories are burnt as heat, for up to three hours after your meal calories are burnt at a rate 16 per cent higher than a regular diet,” says Freston.

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