About 1 billion people around the world follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. The reasons include animal protection, the environment, and general health. A vegan diet is a plant-based diet that avoids all animal products. These are:
- Meat and meat products
- Fish and fish products
- Milk and dairy products
When it’s done right, a vegan diet is easy, delicious, varied, and best of all: healthy!
You might be wondering whether you can lose weight following a vegan diet. Eating only vegetarian or vegan food appears to have a bigger impact on weight reduction than diets that include animal products.(1) However, this shouldn’t be the only reason you decide to eliminate animal products from your diet. People who eat vegan food have a lower risk of developing Type II Diabetes, have lower cholesterol levels, and a lower body mass index than people who eat animal products.(2)
A plant-based diet is rich in a wide variety of colorful and fresh foods. The focus should be on the variety of foods rather than on restrictions in your meals.
Wondering what vegans eat?
Fruit, vegetables, legumes, grains, soy products, nuts, oils, and plant-based fats.
So, you’ve decided to switch to a vegan diet, but you don’t know how to start? We’ve got the 6 best tips to transition to veganism.
Learning to Love Vegan Food
1. Get Informed
One of the most important conditions for successfully switching to a vegan diet is having the information to make it happen. Learn about what your nutritional requirements are before you get started. That way you can be sure to get enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. In our blog you’ll find out which micronutrients you really need to pay attention to on a vegan diet. When you are starting out, it can be helpful to use a food diary to see whether you are eating all the micro and macronutrients that you need for a healthy vegan diet.
Good to know:
If you eat a balanced plant-based diet with plenty of variety, it will contain all of the important nutrients (protein, too!) that you need. One vitamin you will need to supplement (after talking to your doctor) is B12. Supplementing Omega 3 might also be a good idea.
Which plant-based foods provide…
… protein? Soy and soy products, legumes, whole-grain products, quinoa, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and nut butters
… iron? Legumes, grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds
… zink? Beans, nuts, seeds, oats, nutritional yeast
… calcium? Leafy green vegetables, beans, almonds, sesame, fortified non-dairy milk and juices
… Omega-3 fatty acids? Flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, algae
2. Start slowly
Completely eliminating animal products from your diet and switching to a purely vegan diet can be a big change. Living a vegan lifestyle is a process and it’s ok to start slowly. How about eating one vegan meal a day? Or you can cook vegan at home but be more flexible when you eat out.
Take it one step at a time and find your favourite vegan recipes, restaurants, and undiscovered veggies and grains.
3. Fill your fridge and pantry with new foods
If you want to remove any temptation, it helps to clean out your refrigerator and pantry and fill them with plant-based foods. Whether you decide to finish up any animal products you have left or give them to family and friends is up to you.
4. Get creative in the kitchen
Embark on your culinary adventure and experience the fun of trying new vegan recipes (share with family and friends). There is such a wide variety of plant-based, whole grain products out there – eat whole foods! Which brings us to the next point…
Don’t feel like cooking?
Nowadays there are so many restaurants that offer vegan meals and some that focus exclusively on vegan cuisine.
5. Avoid dairy and meat alternatives
There is, of course, the option of including dairy and meat alternatives (vegan cold cuts, vegan cheese, vegan yogurt, etc.) in a balanced vegan diet. However, these heavily processed foods are usually very high in calories, low in nutrients, and contain a lot of additives. You always have to read the ingredients to see whether they are high in sugar, added sodium, or preservatives.
Just because something is labeled vegan, doesn’t automatically mean it’s healthy. So, make sure processed vegan foods are not the foundation of your meal plan, but an exception to the rule.
6. Eat enough
Studies show that vegans consume fewer calories than those who consume animal products. (3) This is good news if you are trying to lose weight. But if you want to maintain your weight and just eat a healthy diet, then make sure you are getting enough calories. Fresh vegetables contain fewer calories. Depending on what your diet was like before, you might have to eat larger meals or snack more often to keep getting the same amount of calories. If you don’t eat enough, you might experience food cravings.
Remember that switching to veganism is a big change. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. That way you’ll have the right attitude and be able to successfully transition to a healthy, vegan lifestyle.