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So the time has come. You've made the connection, and you want to go vegan, whether it's just for Veganuary or for life.
Going vegan can be an intimidating mountain to climb, especially if you're switching from being an avid meat-eater to completely cutting animal products from your diet. However, once you get started, you'll find that it's easy peasy. For me, veganism felt completely natural, despite going from meat-eater to vegan overnight. You'll find that many people have this same experience, whereas others may take a little longer transitioning to the new diet and way of life.
Regardless, you'll be joining hundreds of thousands of individuals in the UK that also follow the vegan diet and lifestyle.
It's nice to feel supported when you're making a significant change in your life. I personally found that talking to other people who already had experience with veganism was extremely helpful. If you don't know any vegans in real life, you can join a support group online. Facebook has a bunch of groups dedicated to providing advice for vegans. It brings a great sense of community and will make you feel less alone if you're ever struggling with something.
Whole grains provide many benefits, including lowering your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. A few common whole grains are oats, brown rice, quinoa, and barley. Due to the high fibre content, whole grains are great at keeping you fuller for longer. New vegans sometimes struggle with feeling full as it takes a while to adjust to plant-based foods being lower in calories. By incorporating more whole grains into your diet, you will almost certainly be able to combat this common issue.
Vegan recipes using whole grains:
There isn't any rulebook that says you have to dive into veganism hard and fast. You are well within your right to take your time and do whatever feels right for you. It may take some time to fit this new big change into your everyday life, and that's fine.
There's also no particular order that you need to do things in, so I'd recommend leaving the hardest for last and starting with the easiest. For example, many people find giving up cheese difficult, so it would make sense to cut that out right at the last minute. Take it one step at a time, go at your own pace and give yourself a chance to get used to the new change.
A diet made up solely wholefoods is fantastic for your health, there's no doubt about that, however, if you find that you're having strong cravings, then you're setting yourself up to fail. You can follow a wholefoods diet without depriving yourself of all the amazing plant-based snacks, desserts, and vegan alternatives. A varied diet is often the best way to go as you can focus on nourishing your body while also allowing yourself to enjoy some of your favourite foods. Of course, there are healthy vegan recipes that have a few indulgent ingredients as well, for example:
Many people hit a brick wall where they'll feel like giving up, but I assure you, you can do it! Even if you 'give up' and come back to a vegan diet at a later date, you'll get there eventually.
Changing your mindset is key. Instead, stop focusing on what you can't eat and focus on all of the possibilities of eating plant-based. Explore the world of accidentally vegan foods, and you'll find that many things that you like are already vegan-friendly.
Also, work towards veganizing some of your favourite meals to give yourself some familiarity. The wide array of vegan alternatives available online and in supermarkets these days makes it super easy to veganize anything.
I cannot stress enough how much easier it is to follow a vegan diet when you are open to trying different cuisines. Visit a food market and seek out Indian cuisine or Ethiopian cuisine, as both of these cultures have a wide range of dishes that are already vegan-friendly.
Trying new vegan recipes and experimenting with different ingredients enables you to become more creative and confident in the kitchen. If it were not for exploring other cuisines, we might not have the pleasure of being able to use exciting, plant-based ingredients such as tempeh, tofu, and jackfruit.
Ask yourself why you're deciding to go vegan. Is it because you're an animal lover? Is it for the benefit of the environment? Or to lower your carbon footprint? Perhaps it's to improve your health? There are many different motivations for cutting out animal products, and each one is valid. Having a strong reason makes it easier to keep trying whenever you feel yourself flagging or wanting to give up. Whenever I found myself craving something non-vegan, I reminded myself of the facts and figures that I learned about, which inspired me to make the change. Human compassion is a far stronger emotion than a simple craving!
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