What You Need to Start a Vegan Diet
If you are ready to start a vegan diet, it’s time to take action and jump right in. As soon as you start eating plant based foods you’ll notice incredible benefits in all aspects of your life. The purpose of going vegan far outweighs learning how to transition. Remember the goal of the diet is not only to improve your life and health but the lives and welfare of animals all over the planet. We’ve compiled our top tips to make sure you are successful and satisfied with being a Vegan.
Writing a personal statement will let you cement your feelings about your current diet, health and the treatment of animals. You can re-read your statement when you struggle with your choices to help keep you motivated and also as a way to gauge how much you learn and experience on your vegan journey.
You Determine the Pace
We talk a lot about diving in and taking the plunge, but your transition into a vegan diet has to be on your own terms. While some people do better going cold-turkey off the animals, others will see greater long term success through a weaning process. Your body is conditioned to eating and digesting what you've been putting into it the past several months. A massive change can be hard on your digestion as well as your mental state.
Give your mind and body all the time it needs to make the transition. If you're ready to dive in great. If not, that's okay too. You'll know when you're ready to push yourself to the next level.
Define Your Commitment
Defining your commitment to being vegan includes what items in your life that you already have that you will keep such as furniture, apparel, shoes and accessories. You can also define when you will be flexible with the diet, like if you are travelling or attend an event.
Remember, your food choices are personal to you. Be realistic about what you want to achieve and what you can expect to stick with.
Writing a meal plan helps you plan your foods for your week. You can write your meal plan and then shop, so that you don’t have to think about what to make right at meal time.
Keep your staple foods stocked up, so you always have something you can cook and eat. Staples include: pastas, rice & grains, vegetables (fresh or frozen), beans, nuts and seeds.
Don't be an Idiot
The biggest mistake new vegans make is to replace animal products with crap food like bread, pastas and packaged food, instead of nutrient rich food. Animal products contain high concentrations of nutrients and minerals. Changing to a vegan diet involves a deep commitment to healthy choices and a commitment to replacing animal nutrients with plant based food rather than junk food.
Additionally, to feel full, you're going to need to eat lots of plant based fiber and a fair bit of protein. Without them, prepare to watch your weight explode. Quite the opposite of what you want.
Keeping supplements on hand will help keep your body nourished and you can supplement your diet when your days are busy and you are short on time. Vegan supplements include: protein powders, blue green algae or spirulina, brewer’s yeast and vitamins.
Your body requires vitamin B12 for doing things like making red blood cells and creating your DNA. Don't think for a minute that you can do without it. Unfortunately, B12 is only found naturally in animal products, so vegans need this supplement. Don't be shocked when you see your B12 vitamin bottle serving up 4000% of your daily requirement. We don't absorb B12 as well from vitamins as we do from meat, so they have to put a lot in there to make sure enough gets into your cells.
If you're a very good vegan and you eat lots of iron rich vegetables (think leafy greens and legumes), you won't have a problem here. However, if you find yourself sluggish and out of breath trying to exercise, you may be iron deficient. The non-heme iron found in vegetables is not as readily absorbed as animal based heme iron. If you're a female who has a period every month, this can be even more important. Consider a supplement.
The Vegan Kitchen
When you are a vegan you will cook and spend more time in the kitchen If you are cooking whole foods having a few key pieces of kitchen equipment will make life much easier. You’ll need: a large non-slip cutting board, a chef’s knife, a colander, assorted pots and pans, a food processor. Other items you may want to invest in overtime are a mixer, juicer and a blender.
Plant Based Fiber
Vegetable alone account for a significant portion of the improved health observed by vegans. The evidence for the health benefits of vegetables is overwhelming and undeniable at this point. When you're hungry for a snack, reach for a vegetable. You can eat as many vegetables as you want without getting fat. It's the starches and fast carbohydrates that get you into trouble with your weight.
If you don't exercise every day, you need about 45-50 mg of protein every single day for your body to repair damaged cells and grow new ones . You have many options for plant based proteins that you will naturally adapt to, including legumes, nut butters and a variety of vegetables. When you're in a bind, you can always add protein powder to a smoothie.
Protein takes more energy for your body to digest. The process is slower and makes you feel full longer. A skinny vegan eats lots of protein.
Build a Community of Support
Find other folks in your area or online to provide support and guidance. You can trade tips, share your experiences and be inspired by people who face the same challenges that you do.
Expect to get a lot of questions and even some criticism from the people around you. And expect to feel a bit of judgment from time to time. The best way to handle these settings is to make your diet choices about you. Not other people. You're less likely to escalate the situation into an argument if you don't contribute to all the judginess. You have chosen a vegan lifestyle because it's what feels right to you. Period. If you're not asking other people to defend their eating habits, you don't need to explain yours either.
When you do find yourself in a position of having few food items, take responsibility. You should not expect those around you to make huge modifications to their own habits to accommodate you. Call ahead and come prepared with your own food or snacks when needed.
Vegan and vegetarian lifestyles are trending up. More than likely, you will find plenty of plant based options at your favorite restaurants and grocery stores. And by now, everyone knows someone who is vegan or vegetarian. And even those who choose to eat meat and animal products are well aware of how inhumane the treatment is of the animals they consume. At this point, there's little left to explain.