Veganism is a lifestyle choice that a considerable amount of people are starting to adapt to and learn more about. It’s a lifestyle choice that as a nation, and even worldwide, people are becoming more open minded and accepting of, rather than dismissing and ignoring. Not only does having a plant based diet considerably improve your health (decreased high cholesterol, no consumption of harmful antibiotics or hormones) but the impact on the environment speaks volumes.
Did you know that you would save more water by not eating 1lbs of meat than you would not showering for 6 months?
To celebrate World Vegan Month, I have put together a Go Vegan Beginners Guide to help you get started and stay on track with your new lifestyle choice. Let’s look at how to get started!
1. Know Your Reasons
What are your reasons for wanting to go vegan? Is it for ethical reasons? Your health? The environment? Whatever the reason may be, it needs to be a reason that you feel strongly about. Let me tell you from first hand experience, if you’re doing it just to ‘give it a go’ or see how hard it is, your heart won’t be in it and you will slip up. You need that dedication to keep you on track and your mentally focused.
2. Do Your Research
Educate, educate, educate yourself! Changing your diet should be taken with careful consideration and it’s important that you don’t make yourself ill, otherwise you’ll be hesitant to carry on with your diet. First of all let’s look at what your going to be cutting out of your diet which is meat and dairy. Meat and dairy contain protein and calcium, along with other vitamins and minerals which you need for various reasons. You do not want to be deficient of these so you need to look for alternatives.
Being a vegan automatically alerts people into thinking “how do you get your protein”. Let me assure you that plant based proteins contain all of the 9 essential amino acids, needed for you to carry on living a healthy lifestyle.
These 9 essential amino acids are; leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine and histidine. You can find these amino acids in foods such as; whole grains, seeds, soy, watercress, avocado, dates, peas, quinoa, figs, beans, legumes, greens, berries and more.
Next we have dairy which contains vitamins such as Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. A deficiency of Vitamin B12 will lead to anemia and damage in the nervous system. As B12 isn’t found in plants, you can extract this vitamin from foods such as breakfast cereals and yeast extracts. I would recommend to take your daily dose of the B12 tablet(s) to make sure that you’re consuming an efficient quantity throughout your diet.
Vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium and promote bone growth, and can be found in products such as; mushrooms, soy/almond milk, tofu and additional supplements. Great sources of calcium include; dried figs, chia seeds, almonds, kale and spring greens. Just 100g of calcium-set tofu (uncooked) can provide half of an adults daily needs.
Take Your Time
Unless you’re in a rush to go vegan, my best advice would be to take your time. It’s extemely hard to go cold turkey if all you’ve ever known is to consume meat and dairy. I would start off by making little changes such as:
- Cut out all meat except from fish, that way you can ease yourself in. After a few weeks you can then cut out fish.
- Swap milk for milk alternatives in your hot drinks (almond, cashew, hazlenut, soy are all great options).
- Cut out eating dairy as a whole product (such as milk, cheese, eggs).
After a few weeks of minimal meat and small dairy changes, you can then take the plunge and stop eating foods that contain dairy such as cakes, chocolate, noodles etc. But don’t worry, there are so many delicious vegan alternatives, you will never be without!
Plan Your Meals
If you can efficiently plan your meals ahead, it will work out both cheaper and more wholesome. Having a vegan diet doesn’t have to be expensive, you just need to buy in bulk and cook your meals ahead. There are lots of ready made meal options available to purchase in store, but to do this everyday would add up so it is best to cook everything from scratch.
- Milk – Soy, almond, hazlenut, cashew, coconut
- Cheese – Vegan cheese (mostly made of coconuts)
- Ice Cream – Vegan ice cream or sorbet
- Yohurts – Again, vegan yohurt such as alrpo
- Meat – Falafel, chickpeas, tofu and quorn
My Top Tips
- Always check the ingredients, you would be surprised at what foods contain gelatin or whey
- Keep a banana in your bag (emergency snack)
- Follow vegan food bloggers for inspiration and recipe ideas
- Don’t worry about slip ups! If you eat a cake and realise that there’s dairy inside, you’ve still made a huge difference and one slip up shouldn’t feel like a huge step back so don’t give up!
My Top Products
If you’re struggling to get sufficient amount of proteins and vitamins in your diet, you can always take supplements to keep your dietary needs on track.