There are many reasons why people may want to move to a vegan diet. Perhaps they are concerned about animal welfare, the environment, or their own health.
Whatever the reason, making the switch to a vegan lifestyle can be a daunting prospect. So here are our top eight tips to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Take it slow
There is no need to switch to a vegan diet overnight. You may already eat meals that are plant-based and then can begin to be a regular feature on your menu planner. This might include vegetable stews, stir-fries, or oatmeal. Changing what you eat is a huge leap, but a gentle introduction is much more likely to lead to a successful transition.
Many people find it helpful to carry out some research first, and that’s where sites such as Get Vegan can be an invaluable source of information.
2. Start With a plant-based breakfast
You might want to start your day with a plant-based breakfast. This could be oatmeal with fruit, toast with peanut butter, or pancakes. In fact, your breakfast may already be vegan, so that means one meal down, two to go!
3. Focus on vegan replacements for your favorite foods
If you are worried about giving up your favorite foods, think about vegan replacements. For example, if you love cheese, try a vegan cheese. If you are a fan of ice cream, there are plenty of vegan ice cream options on the market.
With a bit of creativity, it is possible to find vegan versions of just about any food. If you begin to feel that you’re missing out or deprived, then the switch to vegan is going to be tough.
4. Cut down on your processed food intake
Processed foods often contain animal products and by-products, so it is important to check labels when making the switch to a vegan diet. Many processed foods also contain unhealthy additives and preservatives, so it’s best to cut down on processed foods whether you are transitioning to a vegan diet or not.
There are many plant-based proteins that can be used as substitutes for meat, and these include tofu, beans, lentils, and quinoa. There are also many meat replacements on the market that are made from soy or other plant-based proteins. These can be helpful when transitioning to a vegan diet, as they often mimic the taste and texture of meat.
Do be aware that just because something is vegan doesn’t necessarily make it a healthy option! Most commercial products, such as faux meat and cheese, are highly processed, which can mean saturated fat, sugar, and salt. We recommend saving this as a special treat or as an emergency option after a tough day at work, but you’re better sticking to whole foods whenever possible.
5. Get enough protein
Protein is an essential nutrient, regardless of whether you are vegan or not. When transitioning to a vegan diet, it is important to ensure that you get enough protein from other sources. Good sources of protein for vegans include beans, lentils, tofu, quinoa, nuts, and seeds.
6. Monitor your vitamin and mineral intake
Since vegan diets do not include animal products, which are a major source of iron, it is essential to ensure you get enough from other types of food. This includes dark leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds. You may also want to consider taking a supplement, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Folate is another nutrient that is important for vegans to be aware of. This nutrient is found in leafy greens, legumes, and fortified foods. It is essential for pregnant women to get enough folate, as it can help prevent congenital disabilities.
B12 is a nutrient that is mainly found in animal products. This means that vegans need to ensure they are getting enough from other sources, such as fortified foods or supplements.
Calcium is found in dairy products, so vegans need to get it from other sources. This includes leafy greens, tofu, legumes, and fortified foods. You may also want to consider taking a supplement.
Vitamin D is found in fortified foods and supplements. It is important for vegans to get enough vitamin D, as it helps the body absorb calcium.
7. Stock up on healthy foods
When you are making the switch to a vegan diet, it is important to make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Having these foods on hand will make it easier to stick to your vegan diet and avoid unhealthy temptations.
8. Find a support group
Making any significant dietary change can be challenging, and it can be helpful to have support from others who are going through the same thing. There are many online groups that can provide support and advice for those transitioning to a vegan diet. You may also want to consider joining a local meetup group or finding a friend or family member who is also interested in transitioning to a vegan diet.
Is plant-based the same as vegan?
No, plant-based and vegan are not the same. Plant-based refers to a diet that is primarily or entirely based on plants, whereas vegan refers to a lifestyle that excludes all animal products, including food, clothing, and cosmetics.
What’s the difference between vegetarian, pescatarian, and vegan?
Vegetarians do not eat animal flesh (meat, poultry, fish, etc.) but may consume dairy products and eggs.
Pescatarians are vegetarians who eat fish but not meat or poultry.
Vegans, on the other hand, exclude all animal products from their diet and lifestyle, including honey, dairy, and eggs.
Can vegans drink alcohol?
Yes, vegans can drink alcohol, but they need to be careful as some alcoholic beverages are made with animal products such as honey, milk, and gelatin. Additionally, many wines are fined with fish products such as isinglass and chitin.
As a result, it is essential for vegans to do their research to ensure the alcoholic beverages they’re consuming are vegan-friendly.