Whether you are becoming a vegetarian or thinking of getting into the vegetarian life, you will start with many questions that will inevitably pop up in your head at some point in your journey. And the first one would be how to begin a vegan diet. This is exactly what this post is about.
One thing is for sure, vegan is the best way to live life. Not just in terms of our health, but as an earth-dweller as well. This lifestyle does not let the never-ending cycle of animal cruelty keep on spreading. Plus, you feel great and energetic in body and mind.
What Is Veganism?
Veganism is a lifestyle where we refrain from using animal products, may it be makeup, attire, or in our dietary choices.
Being a vegan is not just a diet but a lifestyle, and it can get hard from time to time, especially during the transitioning period. So, here are some helpful ‘vegan tips for beginners’ and resources to help and guide you on how to start veganism? through your journey.
Is Vegetarianism Healthy?
A diet is not always healthy; Some vegan foods are just as unhealthy as some of these keto diets have been taking over the online fitness blogs and forums. It’s all about how you tackle the failings in your diet.
It doesn’t matter if you’re eating vegan or not, if you’re not getting your daily dosage of amino acids, minerals, and all the nutrition, your body will start deteriorating.
You should be aware of the health hazards that your diet may be contributing to your overall state of health and consider that you may not be practicing a truly healthy diet. There are vegan junk food substitutes for you junk food gluttons, so you have the accessibility to a vegan lifestyle if you are picky with how your food and snack tastes. There are traditional diets that are junk food-based, and all of these are unhealthy and definitely not backed by science.
Does that make meat safe for consumption? No, it doesn’t! For reasons discussed below on the beginner’s vegan guide.
If your diet objective is losing weight, then you can have a look at this vegan for dummies guide.
Vegan Nutrition & Where To Find Them
It really matters if you are eating junk food or vegan foods for energy. The quality of calories matters the most. You get 120 calories from an egg, and you get the same amount from a bite of a deep-dish pizza. As long as you are ingesting the suggested number of calories and nutrients, may it be through animal meat or vegetables, you will be fit and healthy.
However, that doesn’t mean you can just eat junk food according to your caloric and nutritional needs. Firstly, that would never work as they are made unhealthy by incorporating additives, fat, sugar, and other chemical components in excess to enhance the taste, which can never meet the nutritional needs of an average person.
Besides, veggies and greens come lightly packed. Meaning, calories per unit weight is significantly less dense than calories per unit weight in meat and dairy products.
Recommended: Easy To Follow Weekly Vegan Meal Plan
While you don’t need as much protein as some people think, according to the Dietary Reference Index (DRI), the average male should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight. This adds up to an approximation of 56 grams of protein for the average man and 46 grams for the average woman each day.
Some people who are pregnant, healing from illness, or are bodybuilders may need to put this figure to 20 percent. But more than that can lead to health problems. Unless you work out a lot or live a lifestyle that requires you to exert a lot of strength like construction work or even an athlete. Mostly you have to consume more protein to build more lean muscle.
Too big of a deficit will make your body go through- the ‘starvation mode.’It is a state your body enters when you’re low on fat reserves due to massive energy expenditure or anorexia; In this state, your body stops taking energy from stored fat and starts burning through your muscles and bones. It makes your muscles and your skeletal system weak and prone to permanent damage/injury.
Now, you may wonder why you can’t just eat meat, which comes packed with a lot of protein. And you would be correct in thinking so. Here is the simple answer- Red meat is known to cause bladder stones and cancer as well. Compared to the health risks that come with greens, meat outweighs green HEAVILY.
Thankfully, plant-based food has a lot of protein in it already, so if you’re taking in enough protein through vegetables.
Great Sources: Seitan, Tofu, Lentils, Chickpeas, Edamame, Hempseed, Green Peas
Regardless of popular diets, carbs are an essential part of a healthy diet and come abundant in plants. They are the main component of fruits, vegetables, and starches like potatoes and corn.
In recent times, diet and nutrition plans come with carbs as one of the prime nutrients for a variety of reasons. If you exercise, then you know carbs are the holy grail for energy. Carbs exist to fuel us. Think of them as batteries for us. It gives you that extra push in your energy reserves. Kind of like how proteins are the building blocks of our body.
Great Sources: Leafy greens, Veggies, Fruits, Beans, Lentils, Peas,
Corn, Rice, Quinoa,
A low-fat diet is always right for you. However, this is a big misconception on a lot of people’s part- FAT IS NOT BAD! At least, not always. To understand how and why you will have to know that Fats come in 4 different types.
- Trans Fat- It’s the worst form of fat and saturated fat. It is found in most processed food.
- Saturated Fat- This, too, is unhealthy like Trans Fat, as it is a form of Saturated Fat. The adverse effects are similar as well. Rich food like cheese, butter, fatty cuts of meat are all saturated fat.
- Monounsaturated Fat- These help you by lowering your harmful cholesterol levels, meaning it reduces your chances of having heart attacks and strokes. These are usually found in healthy natural foods like Nuts, Avocado, and various forms of oils pressed from Canola, Olive, Peanuts.
- Polyunsaturated Fat- Polyunsaturated Fat is considered to be a healthy fat as well. This helps by lowering bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. It also provides essential oils that our bodies can’t produce. Sources of polyunsaturated fats are usually extracted from plant-based oils like Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil, Corn Oil.
You need to consume natural and healthy fats to aid in processing Vitamins. Natural fat found in bananas, avocados, nuts, and seeds is all your body needs in terms of fat. You should try to keep the percentage of fat to be 10%.
Most people only need about 10 percent healthy fat in their diets to maintain a healthy weight, soft skin, and hair. So, now you know your fat requirements.
If you add any extra fat to your diet, you want it to come from natural sources like olives, avocados, coconuts, and bananas. You should always avoid indulging in excess amounts of fat.
Great Sources: Nuts, Nut butter, Avocado, Quinoa, Olive Oil, Dried Fruit, Coconut oil, Legumes, Sweet Potatoes.
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 for most people is that- you don’t have to go overboard and do anything extra other than eating a variety of plant food to get the right minerals in your body. Water too is a good source of minerals.
Great Sources: Leafy Greens, Tofu, Sesame Seeds, Whole Grains, Dried Figs, Brown Rice, Prune Juice, Pinto Beans, Pumpkin Seeds, Tomatoes, Shiitake Mushrooms, Corn
There are also 13 essential vitamins that everyone needs for various reasons, ranging from the prevention of diseases to boosting your immune system to refreshing the mind. For most parts, 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.
Additionally, whether vegan or not, most people should supplement themselves 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.
This can’t be stressed enough, but everyone needs to start drinking more water. According to the mayo clinic, the recommended water intake is 3.7 liters for a 150 lbs adult.
Our body’s mechanisms are like that of a car engine, where many different types of chemical reactions are taking place, and heat is being generated. Which we need to cool down and remove the heat from our system through excretion and perspiration. The vegan lifestyle has little to do with water but still mentioning this to exert the importance of water in our diet.
Great Sources: Cucumber, Fruits, Cucumber, Tomatoes, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts
Everyone needs to eat enough fiber. Eating a plant-based diet is the best source of fiber and is also part of a healthy vegan diet.
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.
Great Sources: Black Turtle Bean, All Leafy Greens, Grains, Nuts, Most Vegetables.
Perks of Going Vegan
Statistics show that changing your lifestyle and turning to veganism can inherently change your life for the better. You will feel good in mind, and in your body. Below are a few of the benefits i mentioned:
– Vegan Diet provides all the nutrients your body needs.
– Significantly reduces the risk of cancer.
It- Really good for your mind, and boosts your overall mood.
– Will Definitely Shred Some Weight.
– May Prevent Type II Diabetes, as it lowers blood sugar levels.
– Skin clears up.
– Usually Cheaper than Meat, Fish, & Dairy.
– Impoves Kidney Function.
– Lowers Risk of Heart Diseases.
– Helps make the conditions of Arthritis better.
Are Meat and Dairy Substitutes Worth It?
When you embark on your journey to the vegan life, your first instinct is to recreate the vegan version of your favorite meals. Often that includes using meat and dairy substitutes. While sometimes it is nice to eat something that looks savory and tantalizing, the truth of the matter is, meat and dairy substitutes are not needed for a healthy vegan diet, but that doesn’t mean we are going to cross it off our list.
Most people who try vegan usually succumb to the loss of willpower from the abrupt withdrawal of junk food. But it doesn’t have to be a 50/50 trying ritual for life.
Nowadays, you won’t be able to taste apart from a bean patty from a beef patty, vegan soy cheese to actual cheese. You won’t be able to tell the difference. So, why not eat what you love while cutting out the unhealthy side of your favorite munchies.
To Help with the Transition
You can always try out the following ways to help you stay vegan. Practicing or entering the lifestyle isn’t the most significant challenge, but maintaining the lifestyle is.
A Step-by-Step Guide to Start Your Vegan Diet
These aren’t any technical know-hows for which you will have to run calculations in your head. This guide will cover all the things you know but never considered.
But just because these are basic and you all know it does not mean that you will be able to implement these to better your lifestyle.
So do give these a light read to get the gest of it. You will encode and imprint all the information automatically, so it will be like a reflex whenever you apply these in all the small parts of life.
1. Be Prepared
If you have the right mindset, you can effortlessly dive into the lifestyle. But do remember that most social events come with a lot of food, and they are almost always non-vegan.
So, keep a pack of nuts or your favorite vegan snack so that you don’t have to munch on the party mix. Also, try eating before you get out. That way, you have less room to stuff your face with non-vegan food, and you won’t feel guilty or lose motivation even if you try some.
There will always be food for you, so don’t indulge in gluttony, it’s a sin. But don’t make a big deal if you cut yourself some slack and indulge. To err is human. If you make it a habit, though, it may turn into something to be worried about and will most definitely have adverse effects on your body. It will be that much harder to go cold turkey later on.
2. Enter comfortably into the vegan life
What I mean to say is that you will feel like indulging your taste buds the more you practice it at the beginning of your transition to the new green life.
If you’re anything like me and don’t see yourself sticking to the plan long term, then gradually get into it. Systematically, cut out poultry the first week, dairy the next, and on and on.
In doing so, you are getting used to the vegan diet and evolving deeper into the plan as you progress. This is a fail-proof system that will surely have you cherishing the vegan life.
3. Educate thyself in the ways of Vegan Substitutes
The goal is to keep your meals simple, so the stress of preparing doesn’t scare you away. But the real question remains, is meat safe for consumption? No, it isn’t! You will find more and more reasons why on the beginner’s vegan guide.
We have a minimal number of sources for indulging ourselves with pleasure, and food is on top of the list. And in this era of modern cuisine, where food comes in thousands of varieties, you quickly get accustomed to the delicacies you’re brought up with. So just replace your favorite meals with their vegan counterparts.
4. Get yourself a vegan culinary book
You know that you need to opt for vegan substitutes for your favorite regulars. Still, you might not know how to, so get yourself a vegan cookbook and learn the art of vegan cuisine.
The more you learn, the more ideas you will get to add your own touch to individual non-vegan dishes and turn them fully green and vegan. Look up vegan cooking videos, there are many. Basically, look for and practice vegan recipes. Don’t just count on overpriced vegan restaurants.
Some dishes can be cooked or prepared easily for both vegans and meat-eaters alike. Your options are not limited, and you can make a vegan pizza, lots of vegan-friendly Italian meals, Vegan Mexican tacos, and many more.
5. Recreate an Old Family Favorited
Since most people don’t start life as a vegan, so you may miss a family favorite. Today, many talented cooks 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 will be worth the wait once you try it and succeed. These is the vegan tips for beginners you find when you’re researching about Vegan lifestyle online, and it, without a doubt, the most important. Ask your granny for assistance, and I guarantee, nothing can make her happier.
6. Learn To Read The Food Labels
Food labels are the only bridge we have to decipher the many lies and tricks these corporate play on us. They may call their product vegan-friendly or even cruelty-free, but the profit motive can corrupt just about anyone. So, read the nutritional facts and see for yourself if it’s actually vegan-worthy or not.
7. Get yourself in an online vegan community
There’s an old saying- “A person is judged by the company he keeps,” and it’s more or less true. When you are part of a community that guides and promotes the vegan lifestyle, it will actually be a lifestyle and not another failed attempt at improving life.
A few perks you can hope to gain is instant solutions to your vegan recipes and vegan substitutes. A big reason why a lot of people can’t keep at this life is because of the lack of culinary knowledge. Books and blogs can take you so far only. Plus, there any many vegan conventions, programs, and coupons you will get access to. So join a Facebook vegan community group right away.
8. Expect to feel drastic bodily changes
When we are putting something new into our body, no matter what it is, you will surely experience new reactions in your body and feel their unique effect on yourself.
Most meat-eaters go through a withdrawal phase when entering the vegan diet. It’s like when a smoker goes cold turkey, he may experience constipation, insomnia, and stress. It’s the same for food as well.
Your body will detox, and you should be able to grasp the new diet in a month, or even less. We humans can adapt to just about anything. After the withdrawal phase is over, you will enter a new world where you eat healthily and actually enjoy it. This is basically vegan for beginners.
9. As a Treat
Sometimes it’s fun just to treat yourself. 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 like birthdays and holidays. If you really want some butter-flavored popcorn while being on a vegan diet, it doesn’t have to be a big deal? And yes, it’s worth it as long as you don’t go overboard with 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, use nut or soy-based milk, and your own soy/almond milk-based yogurts so that you can control the ingredients and make it healthier.
The same applies to a non-vegan life, as well. Processed food can never be good for the body. But for occasional use, meat and dairy substitutes are more than worth it today due to similar tastes to the original.
10. Add Variety of Flavor to Your Diet
When someone goes vegan, sometimes, they miss the unique flavors that come with meat and dairy. 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.
Most vegan food is usually bland, so use a lot of spices. Trust and execute, and you will be binging on holistic natural food with pleasure.
11. Balance your vegan life with the non-vegan members of your family
It can be difficult for you if you’re the only vegan in the family. This is especially true if you’re the cook. Many parents don’t understand, but if you’re the parent, cooking meat might make you feel weak. But you can get through this if you plan it right.
What you can do is incorporate a lot of your vegan ingredients like veggies and tofu and nut milk into your family’s recipe, whatever you may be cooking. Opt out the regular cream and try to make do with almond or coconut milk. Firstly, it’s a different flavor, and secondly, it will taste good. Get creative.
12. Educate Yourself & Them
Show your friends and family the stats and the pie charts. Most regular folks don’t like going through lengthy internet articles on requests. They’ll be mentally turned off to the idea. Sit them down, and let pop culture and the internet break it down for you.
An excellent show to watch together on Netflix is ‘Forks Over Knives.’ It explains why you may want to try a vegan diet. One thing you should never do is guilt trip. It can do more harm than good.
What I did to get my best friend into a better lifestyle was to cook her my favorite vegan picks. She could not believe her taste buds. This opened her eyes to a whole world of dietary possibilities. After a couple of months with some expanded willpower, I was able to bring her to the green side.
13. Stay Flexible
Always be prepared to make a new plan if your dietary ingredients are out of stock in your bodega. Don’t give in, substitute it with another vegan plant-based snack. Google has thousands of free vegan recipes, so look it up. You can’t possibly fail..
14. Connect More
Many services drop off raw ingredients you need to make a particular recipe. You can subscribe to a similar service. This will come in handy if you have a busy schedule or no one to cook for you. Just come home, unpack, and prepare.
15. Laugh A Lot
Remember to laugh. Laughing adds 5 days to your lifespan. Plus, every vegan poster boy and girl never appeared in their photo shoots, not smiling. Smiling is just as healthy as a vegan lifestyle.
16. Keep a Journal
Keep a vegan beginner’s guide. Your journal on all your vegan and fitness experience you ever put yourself through will be your very own personal assistant. The longer you practice it, the more information you have, the more understanding you will have of the mechanisms of your body that can be achieved through dietary changes.
Plus, you can even write your own blog. Pour your experiences into it, so everyone can benefit from it. And if your experiences transcend yourself and onto a platform to help hundreds more, you will feel great. I know I do.
17. Own It
You can be the only vegan in the room without feeling uncomfortable. Everyone admires a healthy person, it’s in our instinct. It is something to flex about. And the feeling of greatness in body and mind is incomparable to the unhealthy life most of us live. Just try it, you won’t know how good a body can feel, even after the 40s. Vegans live longer than meat-eaters, and not only that, signs of aging will be on your side as well
18. Be Patient
Remember that you probably didn’t decide this overnight. Don’t expect your family to follow your shenanigans just because you want them to. Granted, if you’re the cook of the house, you do have some power you hold over your kids when you feed them.
You can choose not to cook animal-based meals. No one is forcing you. But if your spouse/mother cooks themselves meaty meals, you should refrain from being judgemental. Remember, it’s a cycle of life and chose this to better your own.
Useful Vegan Blogs and Resources for New Vegans
It can be very confusing to a new vegan to know what to listen to or where to scoop out information from. There are so many different types of vegan diets and opinions and researches. The best place to find the appropriate information is the internet at this moment, and the motion picture is a wonderful medium to get acquainted with this new lifestyle. The following resources will get you solid green information and keep you on the right track:
Forks Over Knives – This is a great website and an equally informative 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 categories, which can help you pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for, including 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, then a plant-based dietitian is a great place to dig out information and find out about books she’s written, and you can even sign up for coaching with Julianna Heever.
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.
There are so many amazing food blogs you can check out as a newly turned vegan. Try FatFreeVeganblog.com, OhSheGlows.com, and GreenKitchenStories. There are so many options out there for you that there is no possible way to list them all, but if you google them out, you won’t regret it.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. Can You Eat Fish and Clam if You’re a Vegan?
Q. How To Go Vegan Overnight?
Q. Are there any Vegan Protein Shakes and Powders?
Q. How big is the Vegan Community?
Q. When is the meat-eating window in a vegan diet?
Q. Is alcohol vegan approved?
Q. Is being a vegan the same as being a vegetarian?
Q. Are there any restrictions other than animal products in veganism?
Now that you know how to begin a vegan diet, there is barely any excuse to not be vegan. It’s healthy for you, fit for the environment, and simple too. You don’t need fancy ingredients or particular vitamins, and there is no such thing as carb combing to create complete proteins that have been debunked for some time.
Just eat plants, and you’ll be as healthy and strong in body and mind as Tarzan
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Melissa Weimer is a nutrition expert who has helped thousands of people to create a healthy diet for weight loss and to maintain a good health.