Vegan diet is catching up fast worldwide and you too have made up your mind to turn Vegan – perhaps your inner conscience cajoled you (after all, not harming animals is ethical ), or you have decided to follow your friend or a famous celebrity who turned a vegan, or as (ill) luck would have it, you have discovered that you are now lactose intolerant and had to switch to Vegan diet. Reason could be any, but now that you are Vegan, you are supposed to maintain a strict lifestyle which could become little overwhelming at times. Lest you struggle in your new dietary routine, here are a few pointers on how to maintain the momentum after the switch.
Start Slowly: Don’t decide one fine morning that you won’t touch dairy, meat and poultry henceforth. Though for some, a sudden decision to shift to vegan diet might work, but for most it will prove fallout. You see it’s the nature of human body to take time to adjust to an abrupt change in the eating habits and living conditions; so if you stop providing the nutrients which the body is used too, neither the tummy nor the taste buds would accept the change. The result: In despair, you might end up giving up on your resolution to go vegan and return back to the routine diet.
The best solution to trick your body to like Vegan diet is to take it easy. Start with cutting out poultry, then fish / meat and lastly, the dairy products from your diet. After all, you need to give your body (of course, the taste buds) the time to like soymilk instead of the regular cow’s milk. Moreover, the slow transition will also give you time to find support group (we will talk about it in next point), discover vegan recipes and research on shops and places to procure your raw materials to prepare your vegan meals.
Find support groups: If you have a solid support system, it can help you navigate the difficult waters of Veganism with much ease; and the best way to do so is to join a Vegan Facebook group. Just search for a Vegan FB group in your city and after getting the permission from the admins, go aboard. Other than your city’s FB group, other groups like Vegans United, My Vegans Dream, Veganuary, Little Vegan Kitchen,Vegan Humor can be considered to begin with. These groups will prove saviors when you need tips on (Vegan) education or shopping options. One of my friends who is a Vegan told me that her Vegan FB groups regularly meet in a park or at someone’s home , where they potluck and talk about their Vegan way of life.
Turning vegan is not easy, you have to explain the switch to your family, your pesky neighbors and to your friends; besides other in your social circle .There will be times when you would want to quit and go back to your usual diet but talking or meeting the members from this group will keep you motivated to tread on the path of Veganism. These groups will also help you find plethora of recipes and food ideas for your Vegan style consumption. And who knows, somewhere in these groups you might find your Vegan life-partner (just kidding, the terms and conditions to join these groups are quite strict, so try hooking up elsewhere)
Learning to eat right: One of the biggest myth surrounding the Vegan diet is that it makes a person nutrient deficient thinking that plant-based diet lacks Calcium, Vitamin D, B12 and Omega’s. To debunk this notion first you need to educate yourself by reading articles related to vegan diet, searching answers on internet and talking to people who are Vegans themselves. Eventually you will understand that if you manage your diet well, the Vegan diet doesn’t pose challenge for your health. Let’s figure out how you can derive the above mentioned nutrients from plant-based diet.
Proteins: Though the easy source of proteins are eggs and dairy products but for Vegans healthy alternative would be to consume protein rich food like nuts, pulses,legumes,sprouts, tofu, soy and pseudo-grains like amaranth , quinoa etc.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal products, including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products and a Vegan can have this nutrient either through Vitamin B12 pills or fortified soy milk.
Vitamin D: Any person, whether a vegan or otherwise can be effected from Vitamin D deficiency since we get this nutrient from sunlight. The only solution to compensate for its deficiency is either getting enough sunlight or consuming Vit. D supplements.
Calcium: It’s a myth that dairy products are the only source of calcium, which is required for strong bones. Calcium can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, Tofu and calcium-fortified Soy milk.
Omega-3s: Said to be good for eyes, brain and heart, the good source of Omega-3s are fish and other sea food. A vegan can have them from flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and plant oils like flaxseed oil, canola oil etc. You can also take omega-3s tablets to get it in sufficient amount in your body.
Care should be taken that any supplements either in form of pill, tablet or over-the- counter powders should be consumed only after the proper advice of doctor.
How to deal with friends and family: Any change when its food-related is bound to get remarks, comments, likes and dislikes from family and friends. Instead of getting irritated by their indifferent attitude, you have to keep in mind that this type of reaction from your known ones is perfectly normal as they don’t understand your dietary lifestyle. At the most what you can do is to share your own knowledge about the Vegan diet and explain them what made you switch to this diet. Never ever preach about the Vegan diet (as no one would like it) and don’t ever show your resentment if family and friends are eating Non-vegetarian food in front of you.
Your turning Vegan is your own choice and as long as you are convinced about it, enjoy your meals and let others also enjoy theirs.
What constitute Vegan diet?
A diet based exclusively on plants is a Vegan diet, which means NO animal products. The food items you can try are: Legumes like Beans, lentils, peas. Nuts and seeds like hemp, chia, flax, pumpkin, almonds, sunflower. Soy products like tofu and tempeh. Seaweed and Algae such as spirulina. Whole Grains, Cereals and Pseudo cereals like spelt, amaranth and quinoa. Fruits and vegetables (spinach, kale, mushrooms, broccoli, Bok choy, edamame, cauliflower, eggplant
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