Planning to Switch to Vegan Diet: Some Helpful Tips
Vegan diet has become quite popular across the world. It has proved to be a healthy and effective way to lose weight, stay fit and to effectively manage non communicable diseases like Diabetes and Hypertension. Vegan diet is advocated as a planet friendly diet that helps you stay in shape and improves your immunity to fight diseases.
So whether you are switching to a vegan diet for health benefits, for some religious and spiritual concern or out of your love for a planet friendly diet, you are heading towards a great change in your life style as your food and eating habits constitute a major part of your life style. Food habits affect your mental and emotional well-being as much as they affect your physical fitness. Food also provides a zone of emotional comfort. Going through a change in food habit can become challenging. Many people start the change but give it half way through as it becomes tough to fit in.
Your current food style is definitely an important factor to decide for the degree of challenges that you might face. If you are a meat lover and animal products make a major part of your diet, your change of diet will be sharp and it will be more challenging. But if you are already a veggie and plant lover, this switching will be smooth for you.
This article provided helpful guide to beginners who are planning to switch to vegan diet.
Categories of Vegan Diet:
Vegan diet generally refers to eating only plant based food. But there are people who are a little liberal with this. Vegan diet can be classified into the following categories:
Vegans eat only plant based food and exclude all the animal products from their diet including milk and dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, egg and cheese. This is a strict vegan diet and many a times these people refuse to use any products made out of animal like leather jacket, shoes and belt.
Lacto-vegetarians take plant products and also include milk and milk products in their diet. They do not eat eggs, meat, poultry and fish.
Lacto-ovo-vegetarians eat plant based foods, eggs, milk and dairy products like cheese and yogurt. They do not eat meat, poultry and fish.
Flexitarians or semi vegetarians follow a strict vegan diet but show some flexibility on some occasions and include animal products including meat in their diet.
Switch to new diet plan:
You can choose any of the two options depending on your personal preference and what suits your personality and temperament.
Sharp switch: Many people like this way. If you are planning for a sharp switch from a non-vegan to vegan diet in a single day by excluding all meat from your diet or all animal products from your diet ( if you plan to go for strict vegan diet).
Slow approach: Some people find it tough and challenging to have a sharp switch. A slower approach works for them. One can slowly reduce the intake of meat and animal products and replace it with more plant based products over a period of time. This approach helps you to slowly wean off from your comfort food zone and get accustomed to the new diet plan. This also gives you enough time to plan for it and get prepared with more and more recipes and food to be included.
Cooking and Grocery Shopping for Vegan Diet:
This might be challenging in the beginning. But enjoy it as an opportunity to try and explore your culinary skills. Start with simple recipes like spaghetti with tomato sauce and vegetable stir fry. You can try simple recipes of rice with loads of veggies for lunch and multigrain pancakes for breakfast. Slowly you can step into trying new recipes from vegan cook book and by trying recipes available online. You have a lot of them available to give you a variety on your table.
Cooking in iron pots is also a healthy way to enrich your dishes with iron.
Since there is a change in your diet plan, a lot will change on your grocery list. You might find some on your list in your regular stores but for some of the items you might have to find a right store or a health store. There are many substitutes available for regular animal products. Regular milk can be substituted with fortified soymilk, almond milk and rice milk, soy cheese can replace regular cheese, tofu can replace eggs in an egg free omelette and commercial egg replacers made of potato starch can replace eggs in baking. Replace butter in baking with canola oil and in sautéing with olive oil, vegetable broth, wine or fat free cooking spray.
There is a lot to discover and try. Give your taste buds sometime to get accustomed to these new ingredients in your cooking. A lot of hit and trial will happen and many would turn out to be disastrous. But hold on with your patience and do not give up.
Meeting the nutritional requirements:
This is the most important point to be considered when we follow any diet
Once you have switched to a vegan diet, you have to make sure that you meet the nutritional requirement of the body. You have switched to this diet for health and fitness but if not planned well, you might end up with nutritional deficiency that will take a toll on your health in a long run. Make sure that your diet takes care of the following nutrients which are abundant in animal products:
Protein is abundant in animal products. Include a plenty of plant based protein in your diet. Make sure to include soy products, nuts, legumes, lentils, seeds and whole grain in your daily diet. If you still take eggs and milk products in your diet it is convenient to meet up your protein requirement.
Calcium is in abundance in milk products and in meat and poultry. If you are excluding them in your diet, make sure that you include more calcium fortified plant products. Have a lot of green leafy veggies like spinach, turnip, collard green, cabbage and broccoli. Fortified soymilk and fresh juices are good source of calcium. Tofu enriched with calcium is another good source of calcium.
Iron is found in beans, peas, lentils, dried fruits, dark leafy vegetables, whole grain products and enriched cereals. Iron gets better absorbed with Vitamin C. So take Vitamin C rich food like citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli in your diet to ensure better absorption of iron.
Zinc is found in whole grains, nuts, soy products and wheat germs.
Vitamin B12 is found exclusively in animal products and vegans might have to take nutritional supplement to meet up the nutritional requirement of Vitamin B12. One can get it from enriched cereals and fortified soy products.
To avoid monotony and to keep you interested in your new diet pan try to include a lot of varieties in your diet. This will also satisfy the craving of your taste buds and will help you to meet the entire nutritional requirement.
A proper balanced vegan diet is a right choice to stay healthy and eco-friendly. All age groups including kids, teens, young adults and old can benefit with this healthy diet. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms can do well with this healthy diet plan. So, get ready to start with a healthy choice to stay fit.