For a variety of reasons, more and more people are switching to a vegan diet and a vegan lifestyle. Whether motivated by health concerns or a desire to make a measurable change in your life that has a positive impact on the environment, every day, hundreds of people are becoming vegans.
It is a big change to make in your life, but the change is being made easier every day as more and more grocery stores and food suppliers are taking note of the changes in consumer demands and providing vegan alternatives everywhere you look. You can even find vegan options in fast food outlets like Burger King and KFC.
If you are thinking about making the change, or have already taken the plunge, then this guide may help you. One of the biggest impacts veganism has on the body is the nutritional change it makes, and we have five fantastic tips to help any newbie vegan get the nutrition their body needs while beginning a vegan lifestyle.
Plan and Prepare for Becoming a Vegan
Prior preparation and planning can make all the difference to your mind and body if you are going to become a vegan and embrace a more ethical eating lifestyle.
If you make the switch without a plan in place, you will easily find yourself lost and not knowing what or how to eat. Plan meals and test them out a little first. The transition is much more smooth if you take it gradually, slowly changing your meals until all of them are vegan. Don’t set yourself a time frame; it will take some time for you to find the right dishes and style for your palate.
Make Your Meals Diverse and Interesting – Explore Food as a Vegan!
You may have tried a few vegan dishes or plant-based meat alternatives, but few people realize how vegan meals can open up a whole new world of cuisine to them.
Meat focussed meals are not that varied or imaginative, but a vegan diet creates lots of opportunities to try something different and explore new foods. Many cuisines from around the world are plant focussed, and have a huge range of dishes and flavors the meat-based dishes cannot match. Explore Asian and Indian dishes to discover suitable vegan dishes that you have never seen before!
Take Steps to Make Sure Your Nutrition Needs are Being Met
Some people can struggle to get all the nutrition they need from a vegan diet, especially if they have pre-existing dietary requirements that they need to address.
It is very important that vegans include plenty of protein in their diet. Once you stop eating meat – which is a big source of protein in animal-based diets – there is a danger that your body won’t be getting the nutrients it needs.
Legumes are the go-to source of protein in a vegan diet. These include:
- Kidney beans
- Split peas
Soy milk is another good source of protein, but avoid soy if you have an autoimmune condition, as soy is a major allergen.
Try and include plant protein in every meal, and at a minimum, make sure it is part of at least one meal per day.
Using supplements is a great way to take care of your body and meet its nutritional demands while adhering to a vegan diet. It is important that vegans supplement with Vitamin B12, as this is hard to find in a vegan diet. You can eat fortified breakfast cereals and soy milk, but it might not be enough.
A Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause all sorts of nasty symptoms, including aches and pains, pins and needles, mood changes, mouth ulcers, and in long-term deficiencies, permanent nerve damage. For this reason, it is sensible to include a Vitamin B12 supplement each day.
Calcium is another important vitamin that many vegans are deficient in. Calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong. Calcium is found in milk and cheese, which are excluded in a vegan diet, but it’s also present in figs, bok choy, collard greens, kale, calcium-set tofu, and fortified orange juice. If you’re concerned about a calcium deficiency, especially if you are a post-menopausal female, take a calcium supplement. Make sure you are not deficient in Vitamin D, as this enhances calcium absorption in the gut. Experts also recommend that vegans take Vitamin K2 alongside calcium since it is an essential co-factor in calcium’s transport into bone tissue.
Not all supplements are vegan friendly, so you need to do some research into a supplement before you start taking it. Look for a company like Future Kind that specializes in vegan supplements and vitamins to find the supplement you need in a form that is suitable for vegan users.
Snack Lots and Often – The Best Thing About Going Vegan!
One of the best things about being vegan is all the snacking you can do. Vegan snacks are often very low in fat, low in sugar, and high in protein and fiber, so you can snack on them all the time without worrying about calories or weight gain. Always have a collection of snacks around for you to enjoy. You can use these to add extra protein to your diet.
Become a Food Label Expert
If you want to get the best nutrition and avoid any hidden animal products, then you are going to have to become a food label expert. Start learning how to spot animal products in foods and the nutrients your body needs from foods.
Veganism is a lot of fun, and when you become a vegan, you join a thriving and growing community of people who are taking their health and life on this earth more seriously and using their diet to make a positive change on themselves and this planet.
Switching to a plant focussed, vegan diet and reducing or eliminating your use of animal products completely, has the potential to reduce carbon emissions, prevent animal cruelty, and help you lose weight and gain physical fitness from a more ethical lifestyle.