So, you’ve decided to go healthy, and thought going vegan was the way to go, but where do you start? The thought of making huge changes to your lifestyle can be a daunting prospect, especially if you don’t even know where to start. More often than not, however, the thought of a huge lifestyle change is a lot scarier than actually going ahead and doing it. The best way to go about it is to take it at your own pace and focus on making one small change at a time. They may not seem like much on to themselves, but they do add up, and this article is going to help you out with that.
Hare some helpful guidelines that will help your transition into veganism a walk in the park.
First things first: Do your research
You probably already have an idea of what veganism is, considering that you’ve already thought about adopting it. But doing extra research wouldn’t hurt. Learn the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and educate yourself about the things you need to do to help you transition. It’s also a good idea to find your own personal reasons as well, which can help you strengthen your resolve down the line. From morality to improving your health, there’s a lot of them.
Aside from looking at resources online, be on the lookout for products at your local grocery store that are vegan. Watch out for vegan-friendly restaurants and stores as well, so you wouldn’t have issues with the logistics later on. You’d be surprised as to how many people decided to quit veganism simply because looking for vegan-friendly foods or items proved difficult.
Never pass off an opportunity to learn. Read and watch what you can. Look at vegan magazines, books, watch videos and documentaries, investigate websites, blogs, forums, or even listen to what other fellow vegans say. These resources can offer valuable insight that can help you become more confident with the changes you want to make with your life.
Plan your transition
Now that you have an idea of what it would take to go vegan, you’ll now need to seriously think of what diet plan is going to work well for you. You probably already know that being vegan doesn’t just mean not eating meat. It also means not using animal products of any kind at all in your daily life. For now, however, let’s just talk about creating a diet plan.
Having a vegan-friendly diet a very specialized kind of diet that involves nothing but plant-based items, which means every kind of nutrient you’ve been taking from animals all this time, you’ll have to find plant-based alternatives for. That will also include items that could help your gut microbiome, that is, probiotics. Now the vegan diet can be a great source of probiotics if you know which plants or plant-based items you need to eat. So, like what was said before, do your research and you’ll know exactly what items you need.
Here are some common dietary options that can help you transition into veganism.
Going Vegetarian Followed by Going Vegan
Being vegetarian to begin with makes the transition a whole lot easier. You’ve already taken the right steps, and you’ll only need to take a few more. Vegetarian diets basically already have the majority of their diet as plant based, with dairy and egg products making up the rest.
You can start by removing meat from your diet including poultry and fish. A common mistake a lot of people do at this stage is to offset the lack of meat by consuming more dairy and eggs, so try to avoid doing this. Try focusing more on adding alternative sources of protein. Beans, legumes and tofu are a great place to start.
Once you feel comfortable enough, you can slowly start phasing out eggs, dairy and even honey from your diet. You can do this one at a time, to help you adjust easier, or in one go. The important part here is going by your own pace, and not to overwhelm yourself.
From Omnivore to Vegan
Now there are a lot of people out there who would rather not cut out their meat consumption until the last minute, and that’s fine. This kind of diet plan involves slowly lessening the amount of meat or meat products you’re eating and slowly adding more plant-based food until you’ve completely eliminated all animal-based products from your diet.
Start by removing meat products that you probably wouldn’t miss from your diet. Go from your least favorite kind of meat, dairy or eggs, then slowly phase them out. Save your most favorite ones for last, because we know how hard it is to quit. Don’t forget to add more beans, legumes, tofu, whole wheat, seeds and nuts into your diet as you phase out more of your animal-based food.
As with the vegetarian to vegan transition, you can eliminate one food item at a time or in one go, depending on what you’re comfortable with.
Now for the more hardcore folk out there, you can just go straight to veganism without the bells and the whistles. This can prove to be difficult to some, but a lot of people argue that by completely eliminating animal-based products in one go, moving on is so much easier. Slowly eliminating certain animal-based foods one item at a time may be akin to teasing an alcoholic with a couple of shots of whiskey while telling him to focus on drinking water.
This transition involves cutting out all animal derived ingredients completely, while immediately incorporating dietary alternatives to each of them as they are eliminated. Start swapping out your favorite food items with vegan alternatives, such as vegan burgers, vegan bacon, vegan hot dogs, and soy milk. Switching to vegan alternatives can help you out immensely if you’re trying to phase out meat all at once and going full-on vegan.
Vegan alternatives generally are high in protein and are fortified with more or less the same number of vitamins and minerals as any animal-based diet. On top of that, nowadays, they are pretty easy to prepare, and they don’t taste half bad, either. Once the transition has been done, you can start phasing out these vegan alternatives of your favorite foods, but not completely. These foods are great to have in moderation, but you shouldn’t rely too much on them for your daily nutritional needs. For the long-term, all-natural diets are the best way to go.
Getting the Nutrients That You Need
Now that you’ve successfully transitioned into a vegan diet, you can start choosing which types of healthy plant-based foods to maintain your healthy lifestyle. You can start by consuming fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and beans. You have to keep in mind, however, very restrictive diets have a tendency to be more difficult to maintain. Make sure you know where to find a good source of plant-based products, as well as good alternatives for you to work with if those sources, for whatever reason, don’t work out. It can also be very challenging looking for the right nutrients your body needs, since going vegan means eliminating good decent sources of calcium from milk and other dairy products, as well as vitamin B-12.
Here is a list of nutrients you’ll need to keep a close eye on to keep yourself healthy:
Vitamin D3 and Calcium
These two nutrients work side by side. While calcium itself improves the strength of your bones and teeth, your body wouldn’t actually be able to absorb it properly if you don’t have a good source of vitamin D. Consuming green vegetables, like kale, broccoli and collard greens are a good place to start, since they’re great sources of calcium if eaten in decent quantities.
As for Vitamin D, limited exposure to sunlight is all you’ll need, but there are also dietary supplements that can provide you with this nutrient if you’re not the type to go outdoors.
Another important nutrient for the human body is protein. A good quantity of protein in your body ensures you have healthy muscles as well as healthier skin. A good staple for non-vegans are dairy and eggs, but now that we’ve phased these out of our diets, you’ll have to find plant-based alternatives, but unlike vitamin B-12, it’s a lot easier find protein from plant-based foods. You can get good amounts of protein from a lot of soy products, seeds, lentils, beans, nuts, and whole grains, especially if you eat a good amount of them daily. Some vegetables and fruits also have traces of protein.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 is a vital nutrient to keep your heart healthy. Any diet, particularly the vegan diet, that doesn’t have fish and eggs also have low sources of omega 3. You can, however, find alternative sources for these. Plant-based products that are rich in omega 3 include numerous oils, such as soy oil, canola oil, as well as certain nuts and seeds, such as walnuts and flaxseed. You may need to take supplements of this particular nutrient, however, since the body’s ability to absorb plant-based sources of omega-3 is a bit inefficient.
Vitamin B12 is necessary to help prevent anemia, since it is vital to the production of new red blood cells. What makes this a tricky vitamin to deal with is the fact that you can only get this vitamin primarily from animals. Deficiency in this particular vitamin can be dangerous, since they go by undetected in a lot of vegans until it’s too late. In order to prevent vitamin B-12 deficiency, you can always just take vegan-friendly dietary supplements, which are available in most pharmacies.
A nutrient that helps keep maintain healthy red blood cells is iron. Iron can easily be taken from eating dark green-leaf vegetable as well as a number of dried foods, such as dried beans, dried peas as well as dried fruit. Other sources of iron include lentils, whole grain products and other enriched foods. It has also been found that the body’s ability to absorb iron from plant matter isn’t that good, so vegans are usually required to consume at least twice the amount of dietary iron as non-vegans do. Another way to help your body absorb iron is by consuming foods rich in vitamin C as you’re eating iron-rich foods.
Iodine is an important component that help the thyroid regulate metabolism, as well as the proper function of vital organs. The lack of iodine could lead to people developing goiter, though consuming at least a quarter of a teaspoon of iodized salt daily will help mitigate iodine deficiency.
Similar to iron, it’s not easy to absorb zinc from plant-based sources, so you’ll need to increase the amount of what you eat in order to maintain healthy levels of this nutrient. Soy products are inherently rich in zinc, as well as nuts and legumes. Zinc helps with normal body functions, especially with the creation of proteins and with cell division.
Taking it Slow
Going vegan is no easy feat. A lot of people has tried maintaining this diet, and a lot has failed. Fortunately for those considering it, veganism has become more popular in recent years, and a lot of resources online has been made, making it easier for everyone interested in it to not only try it out, but also to thrive in a completely plant-based diet. New products being developed that cater vegans has also been made to make their lives much easier, from food supplements to alternative non-animal-based everyday items non-vegans take for granted.
Now, if for whatever reason that completely vegan is hard for you, whether you find it hard to quit your favorite meal or you couldn’t find a good place to find good plant-based products as alternatives, then that’s fine. Don’t let it stop you from consuming less animal-based food items. Whatever your motivations are, you’ve not only done the world good, but also your body. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Move at your own pace, and most importantly, love what you’re doing.