So, you’re thinking of switching to the vegan diet? Going vegan is quite a brave decision, but is actually really great for both your body and the environment. If you want to dive into the world of veganism but have no idea where to start, this beginner friendly guide will tell you everything you need to know — from what not to eat and how to keep track of your diet.
1. What Does It All Mean?
First of all, if you’re wanting to go vegan, it’s important to know what it really means. The main aim of going vegan is to eliminate the harm against animals that takes place when processing meat or other animal by-products. Going vegan means living on a plant-based diet and removing all animal products and by-products from your diet. Keep in mind that going vegan does not always mean you consume fewer calories, so be warned!
2. Foods to Avoid
If you plan to go on a vegan diet, you must avoid anything containing meat, as well as any ingredients derived from animals. These include: all types of meat and poultry; all types of fish and seafood; all dairy; all eggs; bee products (honey, royal jelly etc.) and animal-based ingredients like whey, lactose and gelatin. Also, be careful to check what your products are cooked in — some places will fry in beef drippings or lard which is a big no-no.
3. So, What Can You Eat?
It seems like you have to avoid lots of things, but there are plenty of healthy, plant based substitutions you can make to your meals! These include all fruit and veggies; grains such as rice and farro; legumes; nuts and seeds; tofu; tempeh, and plant-based oils. There are also tons of delicious dairy alternatives on the market now, such as almond milk or oat milk, and butter alternatives made from sunflower or olive oil. In terms of sweeteners, maple syrup and agave nectar are great plant-based alternatives to honey.
4. Remember to Still Keep a Balanced Diet
It can be hard to keep track of fats and proteins when you take meat out of your diet, so make sure to check labels regularly and plan your meals so they’re the most nutritious they can be. Legumes and nuts will be a great way to add the protein you need into your diet. But if you’re really struggling, investing in some supplements can make all the difference to your new vegan diet. These are especially great at filling deficiencies in iron, vitamin D and omega-3.
5. Start Slowly, and Be Kind to Yourself
You’re not going to go vegan overnight, as quitting all your favourite foods at once can prove to be a disaster. You must transition into having a vegan diet gradually. This means cutting out groups one by one until you feel comfortable enough preparing and eating vegan meals on a daily basis. This means that on the first week you can cut out red meat, then poultry, then fish, then eggs, then dairy and so on until you have a full vegan diet. In fact, you may have to go vegetarian for weeks or months before you can fully transition to a vegan diet!
6. Join Vegan Groups and Forums
Going vegan will feel a lot easier if you have a large support group! If you have friends who are vegan, ask them for tips and advice. If not, you can join online forums and chat with other beginner vegans to learn their tricks on easing into the vegan diet. This can also be a great way to find tasty recipes to fill any kind of craving — even junk food!
7. Stay Motivated by Thinking of the Benefits
Not only is going vegan great for the environment, it’ll also be great for your health in the long term. Going vegan can lead to weight loss, improved blood pressure, lower cholesterol, better sleep and clearer skin. So if you ever feel demotivated and want to give up on going vegan, just keep in mind the overall benefits and you’ll be back on track in no time!
Was this vegan diet guide helpful for you? Let us know in the comments!
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Current student at University of St Andrews, Scotland. Obsessed with anything related to beauty, skin care and finding the perfect pair of jeans. Instagram: @rachelmarieabreu