Recently, I have made a rather big lifestyle change. I decided to go vegan; I used to be vegetarian for two years when I was younger. The only reason I quit was because I did not have my own income to purchase the foods I liked. Now that I’m older and have my own money, I can buy whatever I like regarding food. This change is easier for me just because I hardly eat animal products directly to begin with. However, for some, this may not be the case. Throughout this post, I’ll be listing advice and tips for turning vegan.
Why Go Vegan?
You may hear from many family and friends that becoming a vegan is a poor lifestyle choice and you will get sick. They will go on about how vegans don’t get enough protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals. This is only true if you’re not careful about what you’re consuming, haven’t seen a doctor nor done any research. Going vegan has many benefits:
1. Personal Health
The health benefits are great. You feel more energized and are getting many vitamins that most omnivores are not getting. Turning vegan forces you to eat more fruits, vegetables and organic, wholesome foods. The traditional Western diets consist of far too much fat, protein and bad cholestrol; this is the diet that is leading to a obesity epidemic. Cutting out animal products will restrict you from some vitamins and minerals, but they are easily replaced with supplements recommended to you by your physician. Non-vegans/vegetarians may believe that taking supplements are a hassle, but they should be consuming them as well. The FDA and government recommend that everyone take a supplement, such as a multivitamin.
2. Animal Treatment
Many turn vegan to protest for animal rights. This was the intial reason I turned vegetarian several years back. Animals face cruel treatments nowadays to provide food for us. Slaughterhouses are terrible places for animals to live; they are crammed into small spaces and cages with eachother, deprived of the outdoors and sunlight, fed massive amounts of hormones (which eventually we indigest!) and are killed mercilessly. If you feel you cannot cut out animal products completely, you can always opt for organic meat and products. If you see a product labeled “free range” be wary – this is often misleading as it could mean the animal just spent ten minutes outside. With more and more people turning vegan, it sends message to manufacturers stating that as consumers, we do not approve of their methods.
3. Weight loss
There are many individuals who change their lifestyle and diets simply for weightloss. I do not necessarly believe this is a reason for one to become vegan. By opting to turn into a vegan, it does not mean limit how much you eat and starve yourself completely. You can still eat plenty, but now you will just be making healthier choices. Weight loss may come naturally with becoming a vegan, as you’re cutting out all the unhealthy, fat-filled foods.
Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
Whenever changing any lifestyle habits, it is always recommended you see your practicing physician. Turning vegan can make you sick if you don’t take the right steps in that direction. Some vitamins and minerals such as B-12 and Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found in animal products and will need to be replaced. Calcium supplements are also recommended, but only a half or a third of the dose. If you’re purchasing any soy, almond or rice milk/products, try and get them with naturally fortified vitamins and minerals.
This link here has some great advice in regards to what supplements you should take.
3. Start Slow
It’s not usually recommended to cut off animal products from your diet cold turkey. Many people won’t last very long if they do this as they feel deprived and unsure of this new lifestyle. Ease in slowly; cut out red meat from your diet first for a couple weeks and then followed by white meats, seafood, eggs and dairy. It may take several weeks or even months adjusting to the new routine.
When purchasing some products at the store, be sure to double check ingredients. Many things contain traces of egg or milk and other chemicals that have traces of animal product (such as carmine in red dyed fruit juices).
This is an exciting time to look for some great new recipes to try out! Many delicious alternatives are available for vegans, you just need to keep an eye out! Below I listed some great recipes you can try.
Do some research yourself and you can find some great things online and in books! If you have any questions about going vegan, feel free to ask!