Are you clueless about how to start a vegan lifestyle? Whether you have environmental, ethical, or health reasons at the back of your mind, it’s quite tough to make a shift.
You must be connecting with what I just said! Although you have sentiments for animals and are health conscious, how can you leave behind delicious meals for a “tasteless” vegan diet?
As a beginner, it’s not recommended to go all out for a vegan diet more like any other diet plan.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you become a vegan
What is a Vegan Diet?
Veganism is a lifestyle that excludes all kinds of animal exploitation and brutality for personal clothing, food, etc. What needs to be sacrificed is all animal products inclusive of dairy, meat, eggs, animal skin clothing.
On a brighter side, a vegan diet is highly nutritious that naturally drops your waist size and overall body weight. It reduces the risk of cancer, heart problems, blood pressure, cholesterol, type-2 diabetes, and many more health issues. Vegans have a lowered mortality rate than non-vegans.
On a darker side, veganism accounts for an increased risk of nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids.
Different Types of Vegan Diets
Variety is the spice of life, and vegan diets aren’t that ‘dull, drab, and dreary.’ So, before diving into the ways to kick-start a vegan diet, here’s are a few types of vegan diets that you can choose from
- Whole-food Vegan Diet: Whole plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
- Raw Food Vegan Diets: vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and plant-based foods cooked slightly to keep the nutrients intact.
- 80/10/10: No need to worry about the complexity of the term; it refers to low-fat, raw vegan foods, or a fruit-based diet. For weight-loss, it’s a great option, but as a beginner, it’s better to enjoy variety instead of restricting yourself.
- Starch Solution: It’s based on starchy foods such as rice, potatoes, and corn rather than fruits.
- Junk Food Vegan Diet: It’s a delicious plant-based food diet that substitutes cheeses, meats, and desserts. Well enough with vegan desserts, processed vegan foods, and mock meats. It’s an alluring option for beginners, especially the junkaholics. Yet, it lacks nutrition; thus, it kills the purpose of a vegan diet that is, reducing the risk of various health issues.
Expert Tips for Beginners to Become a Vegan
As a beginner, heaps of challenges would be in your way. You might not be understanding where to begin.
What’s healthy and unhealthy in vegan diets? How many calories to be consumed as a vegan? Will, your body reacts to the change in lifestyle? How to develop your interest without putting your body under stress? What foods are best to begin with?
1. Knowledge is the Key
With a little research, you can understand what foods are part of vegan diets, their health benefits, and millions of recipes. However, I don’t recommend you to be sitting there doing the research for days. You can visit the local stores and restaurants to see what they have to offer in terms of vegan foods.
If you are someone who is highly committed to his decisions; then, you can print out a vegan grocery list and throw the non-vegan food out of your reach in one go. That’s the right beginning.
If you cannot resist the urge of non-vegan food, it’s better to give yourself time and find that motivating factor. The delicious tastes that you are looking for in vegan foods. Instead, keep on trying new recipes, understand the nutritional value of vegan diets, and add vegan appetizers between the meals or with the meals.
If you have diabetes or initial stage cancer, you can learn some vegan juicing recipes for preventing diabetes and other health issues.
2. Keep it Simple and Creative
No need to go nuts for fancy and expensive vegan cheese, milk, and meat alternatives. Complicated recipes can reduce your interest in vegan recipes.
As a starter, try out fun, quick, and diverse meals. It’s easiest to eat plenty of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, starches, and legumes. With a greater variety, the bodily need of essential minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants will be satiated. While sticking to a single kind of food, you’d end up depriving yourself of the vital nutrients.
Explore vegan food restaurants, prepare vegan lunch for the workplace in case there is none. With vegan foods, never remain empty stomach or feel scared of eating a lot. Whole vegan foods are never dense on the stomach and provide you energy for the long term.
3. Embrace the Changes Positively
Switching to a vegan diet will definitely affect your body’s mechanism. Usually, in the initial fortnightly week of beginning with plant-based foods, your body will get into the detox mode.
That’s not it. The change arrives with headaches, low energy levels, and exhaustion. Listen, it’s temporary, and you will understand the caloric needs of your body over time. For heavy meat-eaters, it’s going to be a bit tough as the body will have an entire detox period.
If you are gluten intolerant, you may suffer from bloating, diarrhea, and other related symptoms.
4. Opt for Healthy Snacks
A common mistake beginners make is not fueling the body properly. With time, you will understand your body’s daily needs and the appropriate meal sizes.
Have healthy snacks as dry fruits handy to prevent unwanted cravings. Learn to prepare some healthy bites such as vegan peanut butter cookies, salted chocolate cashew butter cups, or dark chocolate almond dates. Aren’t the names sounding delicious already?
5. Substitute for Omega-3s and Vitamin D
EPA, DHA, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids are richly found in salmon. When shifting to vegan diets, you must substitute it with flax seeds, canola oil, walnuts, and soy for omega-3s. Soy milk and breakfast bars contain fortified DHA. Algae supplements containing DHA and EPA are also an option.
6. Keep the Vegan Foods Rich in Iron
Animal-based proteins are rich in iron. Vegans have to pay attention to their daily iron intake as well. The best sources of iron are leafy greens, legumes, and beans. You should keep in mind the fact that plant-based iron is difficult to be absorbed by the body as compared to animal-based iron sources.
7. Crowd In New Foods
Shift your focus from foods you have stopped consuming and enjoy the fun of trying out new recipes. Keep on trying and testing new and secure methods to add to your diet. Don’t put an end to the consumption of your favorite recipes; instead, begin replacing your least favorite non-vegan foods with most favorite vegan foods.
Over time, you’d be having a lot of favorite vegan dishes even to replace your most favorite non-vegan foods. The process can take up to six months to let you explore the world of vegetables and fruits.
Benefits of Vegan Diets
Ethically, it leads to a cruelty-free process of food consumption. Environmentally, the cross-breeding to fulfill human needs and its terrible environmental effects can be put an end to. Moreover, GMO foods, whether animal or plant-based, have health-hazards that you MUST be aware of.
Above all, vegans have a reduced mortality rate as compared to non-vegans. They have fewer health issues as they age. As per various researches, vegans have a healthy gut profile (2), reduced blood pressure (3), reduced cardiac diseases (4), reduced risk of cancer (5), and decreased risk of diabetes (6).
Moreover, vegan foods are beneficial because
- Whole fruits and vegetables have bioactive compounds that work to reduce antioxidant stress, decrease cholesterol levels, and help in maintaining a healthy weight.
- Nuts and seeds are packed with essential minerals and vitamins and make really great light snacks for short breaks during the day.
- Fiber-rich vegetables are long-term sources of energy in contrast to junk animal-based foods.
- Plant-based protein sources are safer than animal-based proteins. Animal protein sources increase the mortality rate due to diabetes and cancer. Plant-based protein-free you of such health risks.
Whatever your reason, maybe for becoming a vegan, stick to the plan through the process of change. Whatever works for you, you can follow it. There is no need to impose any forced changed on your body as it will stress your body. Keep it fun and adventurous.
What’s your secret of how to start a vegan lifestyle? How did the change improve your life?
1. Wang, X., Ouyang, Y., Liu, J., Zhu, M., Zhao, G., Bao, W., & Hu, F. (2014). Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: Systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ, 349(7969), 9.
2. Glick-Bauer, M. C., & Yeh, M. (2014). The health advantage of a vegan diet: Exploring the gut microbiota connection. Nutrients, 6(11), 4822-4838.
3. Yokoyama, Y. D., Takegami, M., Miyamoto, Y., Barnard, N., Nishimura, K., Watanabe, M., Okamura, T. (2014). Vegetarian diets and blood pressure a meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(4), 577-587.
4. Huang, Tao, Yang, Bin, Zheng, Jusheng, Li, Guipu, Wahlqvist, Mark L., & Li, Duo. (2012). Cardiovascular Disease Mortality and Cancer Incidence in Vegetarians: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 60(4), 233-240.
5. Dinu, M., Abbate, R., Gensini, G., Casini, A., & Sofi, F. (2017). Vegetarian, vegan diets and multiple health outcomes: A systematic review with meta-analysis of observational studies. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 57(17), 3640-3649.
6. Vang, A., Singh, P., Lee, J., Haddad, E., & Brinegar, C. (2008). Meats, Processed Meats, Obesity, Weight Gain and Occurrence of Diabetes among Adults: Findings from Adventist Health Studies. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 52(2), 96-104.