Are you looking for a reason to become Vegan? Are you curious about the normal questions asked about the vegan diet? Considering stopping eating meat, dairy and eggs? If you are in any of these positions, then you are on your way to adopting a vegan diet. The vegan lifestyle and the vegan diet are both gaining a lot of importance in the present days, mainly because of the available information about the relationship between a vegan diet and health, as well as the now clear knowledge about the cattle industry abuse to animals and sanitary conditions.
It is now a fact that vegans enjoy a healthier life and out-live their omnivore counterparts. Many diseases are negatively influenced by a vegan diet (This is a fancy way of saying that the vegan diet prevents some nasty diseases and even reverses quite a few). As stated before, now it’s no surprise that the cattle raising industry uses hormones, antibiotics and keeps low health and humanitarian conditions to their livestock. Just stating some of the facts that you already know about the reasons to follow a vegan diet or to become vegan.
How to follow a vegan diet
Yes, of course it involves eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from your diet. That means no animal protein from any source. But it is not as simples as that! Most of us are not used to eating that way and the majority of people do not know how to swap animal protein for good and clean sources of vegetable protein accordingly.
In order to follow a vegan diet, you must first inform yourself about the available produce and sources of vegetable protein out there, as well as the vegan friendly products and healthy options around you. Research about what type of veggies are best for you, what are complex carbohydrates, which of the available produce around you have the most amount of protein and fiber, etc. Remember that the traditional western diet uses only around 5 types of meat and a handful of vegetables. There are more fruits and vegetables out there than you can count, you just need to do some homework.
Ok, so you decided to change your eating habits and adopted a vegan diet. There are many things that you should know now:
Things you eat: There will be a big change in the things you eat. From a predominantly animal protein based diet, to a vegetable-protein based one. This means that the consistency, flavor, texture, smell and many more things will change in regard of the things you eat. Try to be mindful about the change. If you are like me, you had a omnivore diet for +20 years, having the same flavor, texture, etc. for a really long time. Embrace the change of the things you eat.
Things you buy: Grocery shopping will be a totally different experience. The time invested in the dairy and meat aisle should be swapped for a mindful examination of the vegetables and produce one, evaluating your new options. Your budget will change as well, since usually the things that are the most expensive in an omnivore diet are meat, dairy and eggs. This means that you will have some left over money. Money you should invest in acquiring the best produce you can find, the best vegan-friendly and healthy products. Again, invest in yourself as much as you can.
How you react to your new food
Once you start making the change into a vegan diet, you will feel many differences in your body. If you are not aware of them, you might not be able to notice them. This is just some personal advice from someone who had to be reminded of these things in order to see them.
Bowel movements: This is one of the first and most notorious changes you will experience. Since the vegan diet is packed with dietary fiber, you will experience more frequent bowel movements (you will poop more) and it will be easier to get the job done. This is a miracle for most women changing their diet habits to a vegan diet, since constipation is a really common condition among them.
Smell: This is a tricky one, because most of us are not aware of our natural smell or odor. Sometimes it’s not a bad thing, think of it as a trademark. By reducing your animal protein levels, you greatly reduce your toxins and nitrous substances intake, which in term, usually change the way your body and breath smell. Try to have someone close to you help you in noticing this one, since as I said before, it’s rather hard for most of us to notice our own trademark smell. Yes, there is a chance that even your stool smell will change.
Energy levels: How do you normally feel after lunch? Do you have a huge “energy crush” that requires you to have a nap or to nod off while working? Try to notice your energy levels after a few days on your new vegan diet and specifically after lunch. Even though you are probably eating a lot more volume of food, you can feel light and clear-headed after a main meal. This means more energy and focus during the day.
Planning meals and days
The success in every diet pattern is based on planning ahead. The vegan diet is no exception. Try to have a general idea of the things that you usually eat; your common breakfast, options that apply to your lifestyle and your life rhythm. Some middle-morning snack options that you should always have available at home or at work, depending on the available time that you have for it. Your lunch options in near-by restaurant or take-away places, or preferred meals if you are cooking. Just as in the middle morning, a middle-afternoon snack. Finally, a dinner that satisfies your day, if it’s the same thing as lunch because you are only cooking one time a day or if you prefer a snack that you can make as fast as possible. ALL THESE THINGS REQUIRE PLANNING AHEAD!
Doing the groceries every weekend for the upcoming week, having all the produce ready or pre-scheduled, knowing the time it takes you to cook or to eat at work, knowing where you can have a healthy option if you are lazy to cook one day, etc. Take some responsibility for your health, after all, your body is your temple and you should treat is as such.
No need to become a super-responsible food guru from one day to the other. Try to implement these things into your daily life little by little, so you can actually see and enjoy the process.
How to transition to veganism from a carnivore diet
This is the change that requires the most amount of energy and usually happens like tearing a band-aid. Fast and without looking back. You will be able to feel a great “emptiness” of flavor in the first 2 weeks, but it will only last that long (if you are consistent with your life choice). Our tongue cells (taste buds) are replaced around every 10 days, so I usually tell my patients that they will struggle for 2 weeks, until these cells are replaced and they can stop craving the taste of saturated fat and animal protein.
Try to use some “animal protein looking vegan food replacements”. These way, you can trick your brain and make it think that you are still eating burgers or meat, while eating something that tastes almost like it and gives you no animal protein or saturated fat.
It is also really important that you don’t feel hungry during the day. Remember that when you eliminate all sources of animal protein from your diet, the food is less calorie-dense, which means that you should have a greater volume of food in order to achieve the same caloric intake. Also important to focus on the complex carbs and healthy vegetable protein sources rather than fatty “vegan friendly” products. Don’t cheat 😊.
How to transition to veganism from a vegetarian diet
This is usually the group of people who simple love cheese, yogurt, milk, A.K.A dairy products. So, the problem revolves around these ones. Try to include as many “vegan milk” products as possible, again, always being mindful of the amount of fat that they have. Remember that no other animal drinks milk from other mammal or continues to drink milk after certain age. Also, don’t forget that the milking conditions of the dairy industry are just as bad or worse than the cattle one.
If you were relying on eggs a lot to achieve your protein daily needs, remember to swap these for other sources of vegetable protein, not just eliminating the from your daily diet and not replacing them.
If you are going to transition into a vegan diet, remember to keep these tips and recommendations in check, so you can do it properly. Your health is not a game. As stated before, try to have fun during the process and, once you are able to implement it fully, enjoy the many benefits of a vegan diet!