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A vegan is a person that doesn’t anything that comes from an animal, including eggs and even honey. There are several different reasons why people decide to go vegan from health concerns to ethics.
As you may have noticed, the animal-free diet has skyrocketed in the UK, with the number of vegans quadrupling between 2014 and 2019. This rise in popularity could very well be due to the rise in research that links consumption of animal products to a variety of health issues. Also, with many of us now witnessing the impacts of climate change, it is no wonder that more and more people are leaning towards this sustainable diet.
Despite its popularity, the vegan diet can still be tricky to adapt to. Nutritional advice is everywhere, but it differs from place to place, making such a drastic dietary change feel overwhelming, which is why I’m here to help!
I have been vegan for over 4 years now. I’ve made many different changes to my diet in an attempt to find what works best for me: I have tried eating raw foods, lots of junk foods, smoothie diets, I tried cutting out faux meats, and almost any other vegan-variation you can think of. Through doing this, I’ve discovered a thing or two about this compassionate way of life, and I’d love to share my advice on what has worked for me.
Before you read on, remember that in the end, you have to listen to your own body. What works for me might not work for you, but the only way you will find out is if you try!
There’s a long list of vitamins and minerals that we need to get from our diet. But if you’re eating a variety of foods, you won’t have to be so meticulous with making sure you’re getting all these nutrients - it should just happen naturally!
Don’t limit yourself to the fruit and vegetables you find in your local supermarket. Head out to a specialist food market to discover new and exciting ingredients. There are thousands of edible plants to choose from, so get out there and try some!
Top tip: Most of us grow up seeing vegetables as a side dish to the ‘star’ of the show AKA meat. By changing this outlook, you’ll have a much better chance of making your diet more plant focused.
As tasty and addictive as the Beyond Meat burger is, it’s not the healthiest (or cheapest) option. You can’t expect to reap the amazing health benefits of the vegan diet if your meals are heavily processed. Unfortunately, fake meats and convenience foods are high in sodium and sugar, so they’re best consumed in moderation.
If you enjoy meat and dairy alternatives all too much (like myself), then try to experiment with making them from scratch; this will save you money and ensure that you know about all of the ingredients that are going into your food. Experiment with tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, and cauliflower - all of these plant foods do a fantastic job at mimicking meat.
It’s boring but important! As I said before, if you’re making sure to eat a variety of foods, then you won’t have to rigorously track your vitamins and minerals. However, it’s always good to know the basics of nutrition. In my opinion, the most effective form of vegan activism is being the picture of health, proving to others that the diet is just as healthy as we all say it is.
Essential nutrients that can be tricky to get on a vegan diet include vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Most vegans take B12 supplements as this is important for brain health, but you can also eat fortified products such as nutritional yeast, marmite, and plant milk to get this vitamin.
Plant foods are naturally lower in calories than animal products, which is why people sometimes go vegan and then forget to eat enough! My advice would be to come up with quick and easy snack ideas to make sure you’re never going hungry, for example, nut butter on crackers, edamame, or a handful of nuts.
Food is not only a source of nourishment but a source of happiness, too! Even if you’re vegan for health reasons, you should treat yourself every once in a while. People that experiment with different flavours and cuisines are most likely to stick to the vegan diet because they aren’t restricting themselves. There’s an ever-growing number of delicious plant-based foods out there in the world, so go and try them!