Whether you are a new vegan or thinking to start your vegan lifestyle, lots of questions pop up in our mind. Being a vegan is not just a diet but a lifestyle and it can get hard time to time, especially during the transaction period. So here is some useful tips and resources for you to help you through your vegan journey.
Is a Vegan Diet Always Healthy?
A diet is not always healthy; Some vegan diets are very unhealthy just as is some keto diets. Whether you’re eating vegan or otherwise if you’re not getting a wide variety of amino acids, minerals and nutrients you may not be eating a truly healthy diet. There are vegan junk food diets, just like there are traditional diets that are junk food based and all of these are unhealthy.
To ensure you’re eating a healthy vegan diet try to get in all the following nutrients:
While you don’t need as much protein as some people think, From 5 to 8 percent of calories should be protein, with up to 10 percent being fine. Some people who are pregnant, healing from illness, or are bodybuilders may need to put this figure to 20 percent. But more than that tends to start causing health problems.
Thankfully, plant food has a lot of protein in it already so if you’re eating enough calories you should be getting plenty of protein without doing anything extra. But, you if you’re concerned you can add in some protein-rich food like pumpkin seeds, lentils, and quinoa.
Regardless of popular diets, carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet and are abundant in plants. They are the main component of fruit, vegetables, and starches like potatoes and corn.
If you’re eating a healthy vegan diet most of your calories will come from the whole carbohydrate. This does not include carbs from things like processed food, cakes, cookies, white bread and table sugar of course.
A low-fat diet is good for you. You need some natural fat that’s already in your food to help process vitamins. Natural fat found in bananas, avocados, nuts, and seeds is all your body needs. You should try to keep this number lower than 20 percent, with an ideal rate of about 10 percent of total calories.
Everyone needs some fat in their diet because healthy fat enables your body to absorb and process vitamins and minerals. But, you don’t need much fat. Most people only need about 10 percent healthy fats in their diets to maintain a healthy weight, soft skin, and hair. Most food has fat in it naturally. If you add any fat you want it to come from natural sources like olives, avocados, coconuts, and bananas. You don’t even need to add any processed fat if you don’t want to. There is no reason to drizzle olive oil on anything or cook with coconut oil to get enough fat in your diet.
To get enough minerals in your diet it’s imperative that you simply eat enough calories and a variety of plant food on a vegan diet. Everyone needs to get enough calcium, chloride, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and sulfur. The good news is for most people you don’t have to do anything extra over eating a variety of plant food to get the right minerals in their body.
There are also at least 13 essential vitamins that everyone needs and for the most part, you can get them from your diet when you’re eating enough calories for your body type, height, and weight as well as activity level. Ensure that you are getting enough of each of the 13 essential vitamins paying special attention to B12 and D3.
Everyone needs to drink enough water. The guideline of 64 ounces per day is a good rule of thumb but if you weigh more than 150 lbs. you may want to add a half an ounce to an ounce per pound of weight to your water regimen. If you’re drinking enough water, you should pee seven to eight times per day and it should be clear to very light yellow and not have a bad odor. Once your body is used to getting enough water you can also follow your thirst cues. Note: Some B supplements can make your urine dayglo.
Everyone needs to eat enough fiber. The good thing is that if you’re eating a plant-based diet, a healthy vegan diet, you’re getting enough fiber. Eating enough fiber helps prevent strokes, keeps your weight down, and helps you eliminate regularly. You should get a minimum of 25 grams a day of soluble fiber and 47 grams a day of insoluble fiber. This may seem like a lot to you but if you’re eating a healthy vegan diet; it’s a snap.
Additionally, whether vegan or not most people should supplement with Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D3. Get your blood tested to be sure but note that most B12 deficiencies don’t show up for a long time so it’s better to just go ahead and supplement to be on the safe side. No diet is healthy regardless of the type if it’s filled with packaged food and lacking in any of the components mentioned above.
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Are Meat and Dairy Substitutes Worth It?
Often when one embarks on a vegan diet, they tend to try to recreate the food that they’re used to eating. Often that includes using meat and dairy substitutes. While sometimes it’s nice to eat something that looks like what others eat the truth is, meat and dairy substitutes aren’t needed for a healthy vegan diet.
To Help with Transition
For some people transitioning to a vegan diet is something that is very strange and hard. For people who had a high meat and dairy-based diet using these substitutes might help them get through it. Mostly because today, there are some very good substitutes such as those that come from the Beyond Meat brand, ad many nut milk, and nut milk-based yogurts.
The problem is, they are expensive and like their meat counterparts aren’t better for you than eating an unprocessed plant-based diet. Fat salt and sugar can be just as bad for you in vegan form as in its animal form. But, if you’re doing it for the animals more than your health they can be wonderful substitutes.
To Trick Non-Vegan Friends
Some of the substitutes today are so good that when used in a recipe most people, if not told, don’t know nor will they even notice. If you tell them they’ll claim to know and notice. But, if you cook a Beyond Meat Beyond Burger “hamburger” to your friends and family they really will not be able to tell. There are also some wonderful Italian “sausages” too that when cooked in a recipe no one can tell including the die-hard meat eater.
To Add Variety of Flavor to Your Diet
When someone goes vegan sometimes they miss the special flavors that come with meat and dairy. Using the substitutes can add variety into your diet that you are missing. But it doesn’t take much. A little bit of vegan bacon on your salad may make the difference between truly enjoying it and dreading it for some people especially those who are in transition.
To Recreate an Old Family Favorite
Since most people don’t start life as a vegan, if you’re one of those, you may really miss a family favorite. Today, there are so many clever cooks who are creating and recreating family favorites that people really love due to their knowledge of flavor and how to trick the taste buds into thinking it’s their old treat. This is more than worth it when you succeed.
As a Treat
Sometimes it’s fun to just have a treat. Maybe processed food isn’t really that good for you but sometimes you just want the flavor that only processed food provides. That’s okay on special days such as birthdays and holidays. If you really want some butter flavor popped corn what’s the big deal? And yes, it’s worth it.
Most substitutes aren’t healthy, and while many are starting to taste like the real thing they are still processed and packaged. You’re better off making your own tofu-based meal, your own nut or soy-based milk, and your own soy or almond milk-based yogurts, so that you can control the ingredients and make it healthier. It’s not even that hard to do. But for occasional use, meat and dairy substitutes are more than worth it today due to the good taste and the quickness of creating a great meal.
How To Be a Vegan When the Rest of Your Family Isn’t
It can be difficult for you if you’re the only vegan in the family. This is especially true if you’re the cooker or if you’re the child. Many parents don’t understand and if you’re the parent cooking meat might make you feel emotionally bad. But, you can get through this if you plan it right and are open.
Educate Yourself & Them – Provide written education to your family from reliable sources such as doctors, nutritionists, and not groups like Peta. They’ll immediately be turned off by that. A good show to watch together is on Netflix called Forks Over Knives. Explain you want to eat this way because of health and put no judgment on them that makes them feel guilty about the animals.
Be Patient – Remember that you probably didn’t decide this overnight. Don’t expect your family to follow you just because you want to. Granted if you’re the mother you do have some power over your kids when you feed them. You can choose not to cook animal-based meals as the person who cooks. No one is forcing you. But if your spouse cooks themselves animal meals you should refrain from being judgmental.
Be Prepared – If you have a plan you can make sure you always have something to eat. But do remember that most family functions aren’t about eating. Even though we make so much that we do about the food you can always eat later. You won’t go hungry. But don’t make a big deal over it if there isn’t anything. If you make it a habit to bring food with you it’ll be okay.
Stay Flexible – Always be ready to make a new plan. If your diet is extra strict such as only eating raw or something like that it will be really hard for you to be around your family sometimes so it’s better to stay flexible and be willing to just not eat without calling attention to it sometimes.
Connect More – Remember to pay attention to the conversation and talk to your family and worry less about the food and more about the togetherness at events.
Laugh A Lot – Remember to laugh. Some of your family members will suddenly act like they are nutrition experts when they live off fast food when you become a vegan. You have to laugh about it.
Make Friendly Dishes – There are dishes that make themselves easy for both vegans and meat eaters alike. Pizza, lots of Italian meals, Mexican meals and the like often can be made totally vegan with the meat on the side for those who like meat to add.
You can be vegan even if no one else is. If worse comes to worst just declare the topic off limits and do your best to stick to your diet and let everyone else stick to what they’ve chosen. Sometimes just being a happy example works better than trying to be too much of an activist with your family.
Useful Vegan Blogs and Resources for New Vegans
It can be very confusing to a new vegan to know what to listen to. There are so many different types of vegan diets and opinions. The best places to find the right information often depends on the type of diet you want to be on, but the truth is there is a lot of good information too. The following resources will give you good information and keep you on the right track.
Forks Over Knives – This is a great website but it’s also a Movie that you can watch on Netflix and possibly Amazon that helps you understand a healthy vegan plant-based diet that will work for most people. Plus, they don’t use processed food, and all the recipes are super simple and tasty.
Dr. McDougall – This site has a variety of great information, including even some free downloads and menus that you can follow. Since he is a Doctor, he also has a Health & Medical center and many programs you can sign up to be part of to help you on your vegan journey.
Tryveg.com – this is a great site that has recipes, and a free starter guide for new vegans too. This site has everything you need to begin a plant-based diet off right. Starting off healthy with the right information can make all the difference in your success.
The Plant-Based Dietitian – If you want some one-on-one help the plant-based dietitian is a great place to get information find out about books she’s written, and to even sign up for coaching with Julieanna Hever.
Thrive Magazine – This online magazine has everything you’d expect from a magazine, but it’s all dedicated to veganism. They’ll help you with health and wellness, culture, recipes, shopping and so much more.
USDA Farmer’s Market Directory – This is a directory kept up to date by the US Government. To find a farmer’s market in your area, this is the place to go. Shopping at your local farmers market is better for the environment and for you too.
Food Blogs – There are so many amazing food blogs you must check out as a new or even an old vegan. Try FatFreeVeganblog.com, OhSheGlows.com, and GreenKitchenStories.com and more. There are so many there is no way to list them all but if you do a search on Google you’re sure to find them.
Today there is barely any excuse not to be vegan. It’s healthy for you, healthy for the environment, and simple too. You don’t need fancy ingredients or special vitamins, and there is no such thing as carb combing to create complete proteins which have been debunked for some time. Just eat plants, and you’ll be fine.