There are many reasons that you may be considering a move to a plant-based lifestyle. It may be because you’re struggling to reconcile the cruelty, which is an inevitable consequence of the meat and dairy industries. Or, you may feel that a diet without animal products will have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing. It could be that you’re concerned about the impact that mass animal production has on the environment.
But no matter the reason behind your decision, some research in advance, from our tips below and from a great site such as Get Vegan, will help your transition to be a smooth and positive experience.
The Ethos of Veganism
While many people first consider their diet, veganism extends beyond the food we consume. Vegans also avoid the exploitation of animals for any purpose. So, that includes clothing and products around the home that have been tested on animals or which contain animal by-products. It might also mean not visiting zoos, safari parks, or aquariums.
When you first start to research the products that you’ve been using on a daily basis, you might be shocked to find out just how many of them have some connection with the use of animals in their manufacturing or testing. But the good news is that veganism is now more popular than ever and that means there is a growing range of products which are an excellent fit for your new lifestyle.
Nutrition and Health
A well-planned vegan diet can be a healthy choice for everyone, no matter their age or stage in life. When you consider many of the marketing campaigns for healthy lifestyles, they generally focus on increased consumption of fruit and vegetables, higher fiber intake and a reduction in saturated fat, all of which are key nutritional benefits of veganism!
When you’re planning meals for the week, there are some key nutritional considerations that you need to build into your shopping list.
A Rainbow of Fruit and Vegetables
To begin with, you do need to make sure that you eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Many nutritionists talk about eating a ‘rainbow,’ and that’s because the different colors signal a diverse range of phytochemicals and phytonutrients. These natural substances are produced by plants and can help prevent disease and lower rates of heart disease and cancer. So that might mean a meal with purple eggplant along with green broccoli, orange sweet potatoes, and red tomatoes; that combination of colors will provide you with a whole range of goodness.
High Fiber Starchy Foods
Some nutritional guidelines you may be familiar with already. So that includes choosing higher fiber starchy foods, such as wholemeal bread and brown rice rather than the highly processed white alternatives.
Vegan Protein Sources
Protein is an essential part of everyone’s nutritional needs. But did you know that it makes up around 17% of our body’s weight? And our immune system needs protein to produce the antibodies which help fight infection?
So that means that it’s important to include a protein source in each meal you have, which could come from beans and lentils or tofu and soya. Nuts and seeds are also one of the best sources of protein with hemp seeds giving an incredible 5g of protein in every single heaped tablespoon; that makes them a perfect option to include in a meal or to snack on during the day.
We shed calcium every day, so that means that we need to get enough calcium through our diet to prevent our bodies from taking what it needs from our bones. Many non-vegans get their calcium from milk and other dairy products. But, one of the healthiest sources of calcium is actually from dark leafy green vegetables such as chard, Brussel sprouts, and collards. Soy milk, tofu, and orange juice are other great calcium providers.
Vitamin B12, iodine, and vitamin D are the three supplements that are most commonly recommended for a vegan diet. Multivitamin tablets formulated for vegans can be the easiest way of ensuring that your body gets everything it needs.
Be Careful of Vegan Convenience Foods!
It didn’t take food manufacturers long to realize that they had a brand-new group of consumers to sell their convenience food to. So, that means that there is now a whole range of ready-made meals and foods which are aimed at the vegan market. But be aware that vegan does not necessarily mean healthy!
Now, it has to be said that convenience food can be a huge time saver when you’ve got home from a hard day’s work and you’ve not had the chance to go shopping. But you should be aware that they are often high in sugar and salt as well as being highly processed. That makes them fine for an emergency or an occasional treat but not as a regular feature of your vegan diet.
Taking the Plunge – Going Vegan
It’s quite likely that you’ll find it easier to go vegan than perhaps you thought, but here are some extra tips and advice to help you on your journey.
A Step by Step Approach
There’s no one right approach to becoming a vegan, but you should know that it doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ transition. Keeping your end goal in sight, you might decide to swap out one meal a day in the first week, progressing to two in the second week and then all your meals in week three. You could try having one day a week with all vegan meals and then steadily move towards a full week.
Whether it’s a step by step approach or going vegan overnight, you’re more likely to be successful if you introduce the change at a pace that works for you.
Try New Things
This is the perfect opportunity to try some of the more exotic fruits and vegetables in the supermarket. Meat is expensive food, so while you may not have previously considered the pricier fruits and vegetables, you’ll now find that they can fit into your weekly food budget.
Keep Learning about Veganism
Finding a supportive group can be a huge help when you decide to become vegan. Having someone who can answer your questions, provide support, and share your successes can be a massive boost in what is a significant change to your lifestyle. Many larger towns and cities will have vegan groups, but you’ll also find online communities that can be a fantastic source of information.
Now is the time to plan, learn, and inform yourself to begin your successful transition to the world of veganism.