Veganism is everywhere and more and more people are choosing to become vegan mostly for ethical and compassionate choices such as animal welfare. Veganism is now a way of living – it isn’t just about giving up dairy and meat, it’s a lifestyle choice that goes across all aspects of life including fashion, beauty and environmental.
Like with any diet there are pros and cons. Evidence suggest that increasing intake of vegetables, legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds results in a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Wahoo! On the flip side the concerns for going vegan are predominantly the lack of protein, B12, iron and zinc.
If you’re switching to a vegan diet my advice is to do it gradually and go at your own pace. Your body needs time to adjust to the different balance of foods, and the experience will be more enjoyable if you give yourself time to discover the wealth of vegan foods. BEWARE not all vegan products are healthy! A vegan cake is still a cake and you can still consume too much processed food, sugar and fat on a vegan diet. I actually see a lot of vegans living off raw and vegan sweets thinking that it’s a balanced diet because it’s labelled as vegan.
I recommend making small changes to your everyday meals which is one of the easiest ways. For example, you could start by removing meat or dairy two days a week or try changing one meal at a time, having vegan breakfasts during your first week, adding a vegan lunch during week two and so on. Many people start with meat free Mondays and go from there.
You could even try changing one product at a time some examples include:
Swapping cow’s milk for almond or soya milk
Dairy cheese for nut cheese
Hamburgers for a mixed bean burgers
Butter for vegan butter or coconut oil
Predominantly vegans can struggle to get enough protein in their diets. Here are some protein-rich foods. Try to include some protein at every meal.
Beans, lentils and peas
Seeds and nuts
Dark-green vegetables, such as kale, broccoli and spinach
If you are changing your diet it’s worth consulting your doctor to monitor your health and screen you for other deficiencies that may occur along side this diet such as B12, iron and vitamin D. Considering supplementation to avoid deficiencies may be recommended because if you turn vegan and your levels of iron and vitamin D drop you are going to feel very tired!
So what’s the bottom line? One diet does not fit all! Going vegan and eating more plant based foods can be a very healthy consideration and a lot of people thrive on it. However I also know people and have heard horror stories from going vegan where they have gotten really sick. So my advice is, like always, try it, test it (preferably with a practitioner or doctor) and monitor your results.
Im not a vegan myself but for the past year I have massively reduced my intake of animal meat for three reasons
I love animals
The thought of eating red meat these days just makes me feel a bit gross
I understand the impact the farming industry has on the world and I want to do my bit for the environment.
For those of you who would like to go vegan or trial it Ive put together an easy to follow 21 day vegan meal plan which includes everything you need to eat Mon – Sun including easy meals, convention snacks, delicious recipes and useful shopping lists. To grab a copy click on the link here