Whether you’re motivated by improving your health, reducing your environmental footprint, or preventing animal pain and suffering, a vegan lifestyle is one to be proud of.
It’s essential to fully understand what a vegan lifestyle requires, as you will have to change your eating habits drastically. Going vegan eliminates all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and fish. This means that you replace your diet with nutritionally rich foods that improve your health and lower inflammation.
Let’s check out these five incredible ways of adopting your new vegan lifestyle.
1. Start Slow
When taking up something new, it’s always advisable to ease into it slowly to prevent setbacks. A vegan lifestyle is no different. Start making small changes and incorporating them into your everyday meals. This will be the easiest way to adjust to this lifestyle change.
For example, if you previously ate meat daily, it will be challenging to go cold turkey.
People generally start by adopting a vegetarian or pescatarian lifestyle first. This way, removing meat from their diet will be easier. Be careful not to consume too much fish, eggs, and dairy during this period trying to replace meat.
When you feel comfortable enough to go vegan, you can remove fish, dairy, and eggs from your diet. During this stage, you need to pay attention to ingredient lists when shopping. There are several food items with animal-derived ingredients.
Reading food labels will take some time to get used to, so it’s okay to take it slow on this one.
2. Substitute Meat
Protein is vital for muscle building but also plays a crucial role in suppressing hunger. Without the ideal amount of protein in your body, chances are you feel hungry all the time.
To prevent this, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with vegan proteins and include them in every meal. Below are some of the most common sources of plant-based protein:
- Lentils are nutrition-packed legumes known for their versatility—going into soups, stews, dips, and salads. They also vary in color, size, shape, consistency, and taste.
- Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a popular food that’s derived from soy. You can eat it raw, deep-fried, or tossed in stir-fries.
- Quinoa is a gluten-free seed that can substitute rice or other grains. It’s packed with protein and fiber, thus keeping you full for longer.
- Edamame is soybeans, and the pods are boiled or steamed when eaten.
- Seitan is food made from gluten, which is the main protein of wheat. You can sauté, fry, bake, or grill it.
3. Supplement Vitamins and Minerals
As with any dietary change, you shouldn’t miss out on essential nutrients. Some nutrients will be hard to come by, even when you’re eating a variety of healthy vegan food.
Vitamin B12 helps transform food into energy in our bodies and aids in brain function. It’s mainly found in animal-based products such as meat, fish, poultry, and dairy. Most vegans need B12 supplements, and fortified cereals or energy bars are an excellent way to get the boost you need.
Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body and is in fortified dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and canned fish like salmon and sardines. Vegans can get their dose of Vitamin D in fortified non-dairy products such as soy milk, almond milk, and orange juice.
There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids called DHA and EPA. They are crucial for heart health, eye, and brain development. These omega-3 fatty acids are mainly in fatty fish such as salmon. As a vegan, you can supplement them with flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and soy.
Regulating iron levels in the body is essential to reduce fatigue and boost immunity.
You can typically find iron in animal proteins, but vegans can find this mineral in beans, legumes, and leafy greens. Iron from plant-based sources isn’t as easily absorbed as that from meat sources. To get the most from plant-based iron, eat the food together with Vitamin C-rich food.
It’s advisable to always consult your doctor before taking any supplements, whether they boost your nutrient intake or help your body maintain healthy functions.
4. Do More Research
Learning a few basic plant-based recipes will ease you into the vegan lifestyle.
Start with simple recipes and ingredients that are easily accessible to you, e.g., making vegan versions of your favorite meals. This way, you won’t break the bank transitioning. Once you’re completely comfortable, exploring more complicated recipes will be exciting.
Use this time as a new vegan to learn everything related to the lifestyle. You should always be open to trying food that you may not have eaten before. Food such as tempeh and fermented food will need acquiring at first, but by trying all these different tastes, you’ll discover the ones you enjoy the most.
Read vegan books and follow vegan influencers to receive some great insight into the lifestyle, too.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
Lifestyle changes are a huge leap and deserve positive acknowledgment and applause. It’s natural to have moments where you feel completely overwhelmed and discouraged.
If you start feeling this way, remember why you went vegan in the first place. Thinking about your reasons can help give you a clearer perspective of why giving up is not an option.
Indulging in vegan-friendly take-outs is also a great idea. There are several vegan-friendly restaurants that can satisfy any cravings you might experience.
Finding like-minded people with the same habits helps, as well, because we’re highly affected by those who surround us. It can be incredibly frustrating to be around people who don’t eat what you do.
You’ll continuously have to explain your lifestyle to them. Instead, you can connect with similar individuals from social organizations and groups to share tips about anything, ranging from recipes, challenges, advice, and encouragement.
A Vegan Lifestyle
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is not necessarily challenging, but it requires time and patience. You’ll make some mistakes along the way, but just remember to learn from them as you go. Don’t forget to also have fun while doing it!