Keep your end goal in mind, but go at your own pace. Some people manage to go vegan overnight and if that’s the right approach for you, fantastic. But don’t be concerned if you feel you need more time. Like any other lifestyle change, going vegan not only takes getting used to, but it takes time to determine what will work best for you. It’s not a one size fits all experience and there are numerous approaches you can take. Making small changes to your everyday meals is one of the easiest ways to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet. There’s a plant-based alternative for almost every type of food you can think of, so you don’t have to miss out on any of your favourite foods.
Make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients. Just because you’re vegan that doesn’t mean you’re 100% healthy, as there are vegan versions of almost every type of junk food you can think of. As long as you eat a wide variety of tasty plant foods, planning a healthy diet that incorporates all the vitamins and nutrients you need will be a breeze. Check out our nutrition pages for more information, or seek advice from a registered dietitian.
The nutrients that need special attention when focusing on plant nutrition are Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Calcium, Iron and Protein. Almost all nutrients can be taken with food by following your diet (how much you eat is very easy to calculate with cronometer.com, where you can enter your daily food and see how much nutrients you have taken).
Proteins are an important part of the diet – they are responsible for the formation of all tissues in the human body (bones, muscles, skin, blood, etc.). Protein helps to make food more nutritious. Protein-rich products include lentils, beans and their products (soybean products – tofu, tempe, soy granules, soy milk, soy yogurt), peas and their products (eg hummus or falafel), seitans or wheat protein products, nuts and nut butter, seeds, quinoa. Lentils, beans and their products are not only important because of their protein content, but they are rich in iron, calcium, zinc, choline and folic acid.
Omega-3 fatty acids help the heart and cardiovascular system, prevent thrombus formation, are essential for good eye health, and can help with the symptoms of depression. The best sources of omega-3 in plant nutrition are chia seeds, walnuts, linseeds, hemp seeds. However for the safety many vegans prefer algae-based dietary supplements, as herbal products contain omega-3 in only one of three forms (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA).
Iron is a very important nutrient – it provides the metabolic process and supplies oxygen to cells throughout the body. The trivalent iron found in plant products is a good source of it, if taken correctly with vitamin C, and not with tea or coffee, as it absorbs iron in the body. Iron products – tofu, Turkish peas, beans, lentils, spinach and other green salads, oat flakes, pumpkin and chia seeds, linseeds, peanuts, cashews, almonds, dates, nettle powder.
Adequate lifetime calcium intake is needed to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, nerve cell health, and muscle contraction. Many plant products are also a rich source of calcium – dark green vegetables such as kale and cauliflower, soya (tofu), almonds and Brazil nuts, tahini (sesame seed paste), chia seeds, figs, oranges and vegetable milk are enriched with calcium.
Vitamin B12 is a very important nutrient that is essential for the production of blood cells, the functioning of the nervous system and the regeneration of mucous membranes. Therefore, the best choice is to use both a dietary supplement and B12-enriched herbal products such as herbal drinks, breakfast cereals and B12-enriched yeast flakes.
Vitamin D is needed for good bone health and the immune system, reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer. Sources of Vitamin D in foods include breakfast cereals, margarine, portobello and shiitake mushrooms, vegetable milk all enriched with vitamin D and of course sunlight. Additionally use D3 dietary supplement.
Recent research on plant nutrition and health effects on Instagram @Nutritionfacts.
Treat your taste buds to new foods and new flavours. Leaving your food comfort zone will take you on a voyage of discovery of new cuisines. There are thousands of vegan recipes out there from every corner of the globe. Whatever your culinary preference, you’ll encounter amazing new dishes and interesting variations on your old favourites. Yet you don’t have to be an award-winning chef to achieve this. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the number of meals you can easily prepare from things already in your kitchen or local supermarket ingredients.
You can also blur ideas on countless blogs, Instagram, and Facebook profiles. Wonderful herbal country food recipes and spotlights in Instagrama profiles: @vegspirationfeed, @plantbasednews, @weganbowls, @nora_cooks_vegan, @rabbitandwolves.
Remember that going vegan is a learning curve. To live as a vegan in a non-vegan world takes both courage and curiosity. Veganism has been around since 1944, but it’s still a relatively new concept to many people. It’s important you allow yourself time to learn about the various strands of veganism – and remember to pat yourself on the back along the way for the progress you’ve made. Veganism with an active lifestyle and fitness goes hand in hand, get inspired by other athletes: @veganbodybuilding.
Studies show that vegans tend to have healthier body weight and cholesterol levels, as well as a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to standard dieters. Dropping meat reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and stomach cancer.
“Where can I buy vegan chocolate?” “How do I bake cakes without eggs?” “I don’t know how to speak to my family about veganism!” Fear not –you’re not alone. Our website is full of information and resources covering all of these questions and more. There’s nothing like talking to other vegans to make your transition even easier. Link up with others through channels like Facebook or Instagram and find your nearest vegan group, where you’ll discover many friendly people happy to help – Facebook profile Vegan.com. For additional support you should download our free VeGuide app or sign up to our free Vegan Pledge where you’ll be supported with daily information to help guide you through your first month as a vegan.
Where to eat while abroad? Use HappyCow app, which is like Tripadvisor for vegan food.
Keep reminding yourself of the reasons you’ve chosen a vegan lifestyle, and the benefits you’ve felt since going vegan. You’ll probably find going vegan a lot easier than expected, but if you do have a bad day or feel this whole vegan thing is too much like hard work – take a deep breath and briefly reflect on your choices. Reading books or regularly watching informative and uplifting videos about veganism can help, as does keeping motivating visual reminders like photos of your favourite animals. Or how about locating your nearest animal sanctuary? Spending time with animals who are traditionally farmed and getting to know their wonderful personalities is a great way to reaffirm your commitment to veganism. If you can’t do that just treat yourself with positive videos on the internet or get inspired by other vegan-created social networking sites – like the Instagram profile @livekindlyco (vegan news and why it’s important to live consciously and responsibly).
If you believe in yourself, vegan living will soon become second nature. There is always a better reason to stick with your decision than to go against it. If you’re having issues with friends or family, don’t give up, look for like-minded peers to help you solve the problem. Remember, there are lots of vegan groups online and off that you can join.
Make sure that you do things along the way that remind you of the joy of vegan living, and take it one day at a time. You’ve chosen an amazing, exciting and profound way to live your life – be sure to enjoy it.