Guide to Going Vegan
Veganism is rising, with more people adopting a completely meat-free lifestyle. Unlike being a vegetarian, being a vegan means eliminating all forms of meat and animal products from your diet. Besides meat, poultry, and fish, a vegan diet excludes eggs and dairy products like milk, butter, and cheese.
If you've been considering a vegan lifestyle, continue reading to learn about why people choose to be vegan and the foods you can and should include in your diet.
Why Go Vegan?
You may think that vegans don't like the taste of meat or dairy, but this is usually not the case. (who dislikes cheese?!) Most of the time, people give up animal-based products for moral or health reasons.
The three main reasons are:
Animal Farming Harms the Environment
You may think that people have lived on the earth for thousands of years and that hunting and eating animals is part of the normal circle of life. It may be true that humans are omnivores who need animal and plant-based food sources, but how we consume meat has changed.
Thousands of years ago, people didn't farm on the same mass scale as we do now and consumed less meat.
Animal farming nowadays is a massive industry. It takes up lots of land space and uses many resources like energy and water. Raising animals increases pollution and greenhouse gases.
You could also grow far more plant-based foods to feed more people with less land space and fewer resources.
Animal-Based Foods Promote Animal Cruelty
In the animal farming industry, where animals are raised for food, animals are treated as comedies rather than living beings. Animals raised as food are usually kept in small spaces and pumped with antibiotics, making them grow faster to keep up with consumer demand.
Rarely are animals left to roam free and grow naturally. For this reason, many animal lovers choose a vegan lifestyle as it's kinder to animals.
It's a Healthier Option
Besides meat products being less than organic, animal products are high in trans and saturated fats that can cause health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Vegan diets are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When followed correctly, a vegan diet may lower the risk of heart disease, lower your blood pressure, and your risk of developing type 2 Diabetes and help you lose weight.
Creating a Vegan Diet
It may be overwhelming knowing what to eat if you're a new vegan. You want to ensure you get all your nutrients while avoiding animal-based products. The best way to do this, especially at the beginning, is to plan; once you're used to your vegan lifestyle, it will become second nature knowing what to eat.
Have a Plan
While there may be more vegan options than there were a few years ago, if you're new to veganism, you probably won't know where to find all the vegan stores and restaurants. As a meat eater, you can quickly grab a takeaway from any fast-food place or have lunch at any restaurant, but this isn't always an option for a vegan.
A simple solution is to plan your meals, so you don't have to look for food options when you're hungry. Plan your weekly meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, before grocery shopping so you know what to buy.
If possible, cook some meals in bulk, divide them into portions, and pop them in the freezer so that you have food readily available when you are running late or don't have time to cook.
Eat Whole Foods
Browse the vegan section of the grocery store, and you will see a wide range of highly processed vegan foods, from soya sausages to fake meats. You'll also find a wide range of microwave convenience foods.
These may make your meal prepping so much easier, but these foods are very unhealthy, contain high amounts of sodium and artificial flavour, and are low in nutritional value.
The healthiest option is to buy foods in their natural state or as close to this as possible.
You can buy frozen vegetables and keep these in your freezer as they will last longer than fresh foods. Frozen veggies are not processed, and because they are frozen from fresh most of their nutritional value is locked in.
Apart from buying frozen veggies, shop in the fresh produce isles and select fruits and vegetables in different colours. This allows you to eat lots of foods so that you don't get bored, and you also get to consume a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Remember to Include Protein
Meat products are high in protein, and since you are cutting them out, you need to make sure you replace them with another protein source. Good sources of plant-based protein include:
Use various protein sources in your meals to keep them interesting.
Another good option is to take a protein shake or meal replacement. The best meal replacements for vegans contain high amounts of bioavailable plant protein, like brown rice and pea protein. These proteins are easier to absorb and digest.
Adopting a vegan lifestyle may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Like anything new, a bit of planning helps to ease into it. Whether you choose a vegan diet for health or ethical reasons, you must include plant protein in your diet and avoid highly processed plant-based foods.