A year ago today I decided on a lifestyle that was more inline with my values and as a tribute I am writing this guide. Becoming vegan can be an overwhelming idea for most people (it was for me nearly a year ago) but since I started living this way I’ve discovered that it is not only easy but has opened the door to all sorts of things in the food world I hadn’t experienced. When looked at through the lens of “what do I have to give up” it can be daunting, it is much easier when you think of all the new things you will try. Hopefully this can help you on your journey.
FIGURE OUT YOUR WHY
Before making any life changes it is important to find your why. Any change can be difficult but if you really believe in what you’re doing it is much easier. Luckily there are plenty of reasons to try vegan. Compassion, not supporting cruelty (watch earthlings and you’ll never look at animals the same way), protecting the environment, wanting to be healthier and looking to improve athletic performance are all great reasons to go vegan. For me it has been a bit of everything, frustration over the state of our environment, wanting to be healthier and a desire to not cause unnecessary animal suffering that has been my why. I will admit that it took some time for me to wake up and realize what I was choosing to eat was going against these values and that is when I decided to become vegan. Take your pick of reasons why just be careful you may end up with unlimited energy and a desire to share this way of life with others.
If health is your why it is becoming widely accepted and documented that a vegan diet is extremely healthy and can even reverse some disease.
Check out what these well respected doctors are saying :
- Dr John McDougall
- Dr Neil Barnard
- Dr Michael Greger
- Dr Dean Ornish
- Dr Joel Fuhrman
- Dr Calwell Esselstyn
WHERE WILL I GET MY PROTEIN?
This is a question I get all the time, and despite popular belief, it is very hard to not get the protein our bodies need. The fact is that if you are eating enough calories you will be getting enough protein, period. There is plenty of protein in fruits, grains, and vegetables to meet all of our needs. If you are still nervous about dying of protein deficiency I’ve compiled a list including some of the plants that have high amounts of protein.
PLANTS HIGH IN PROTEIN: oats, quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, peanuts, cashews, beans, peas, lentils, spinach, kale, broccoli, brown rice, avocados and potatoes to name a few.
By eating a variety of foods it is easy to get all the protein you need. There is an increasing number of vegan body builders that don’t seem to have any issue putting on muscle. This youtube video showcases 14 of them.
Calcium is another nutrient that we’ve been made to believe can only be obtained in sufficient amounts by consuming dairy but the truth is far from that. Think about this, humans are the only animals who drink the milk of other species… cow’s milk can be full of hormones, steroids and other toxins that weaken human immune systems and may even contribute to cancer. Adequate amounts of calcium are easily obtained through plant foods such as broccoli, beans, grains, kale and spinach, and calcium from plants is more easily absorbed by the body than calcium from cow’s milk. So I’ll leave the cow’s milk for the baby cows, and I’ve found that oat milk is so much tastier too!
MAKING THE TRANSITION
A common mistake when transitioning to a vegan diet is to eat too few calories, causing people to mistakenly think they “need meat”. Healthful vegan diets are bigger on volume and it may help to find some healthy snacks you enjoy to munch on throughout the day. The good thing is that it’s hard to eat too many fruits and vegetables, nuts or seeds, and they make good snacks between meals, so snack on. If you are struggling with not wanting to give something up, fear not! There are delicious vegan alternatives to just about any animal product you can think of. Vegan meat and dairy substitutes have come a long way recently and the market is growing exponentially so you can find them just about anywhere. If eggs are your thing I’ve found “Follow Your Heart” makes a good egg free egg that I wouldn’t be able to distinguish from the real thing.
WHAT TO EAT?
A great thing I discovered when I became vegan was all the foods I had been missing out on! It opened up the doors to so many new things that I haven’t missed meat, dairy or eggs one bit. There are so many resources online these days from paid meal planner’s (like this “what the health” meal planner) to free cookbooks and recipes, a google search of vegan meals will bring up millions of ideas.
A healthy vegan diet is made up of these four food groups:
- Legumes, nuts and seeds (4+ servings per day)
- Grains (4-6+ servings per day)
- vegetables (4+ servings per day)
- Fruit (2+servings per day)
Mix it up and enjoy all the goodness and variety.
Another important thing when transitioning is to surround yourself with positive people that support you. If you don’t have that in your life there is a large vegan community on the internet offering tons of positive support and useful tools. I hope this offered a bit of help, if you are stuck or struggling with a certain aspect of it drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to answer questions. I’m no expert but still learning as I go and doing the best I can.