9 Things You Need to Know Before Shifting to a Vegan Diet
Indian cricket captain, Virat Kohli gave up animal protein, eggs and diary protein four months ago and turned vegan. His current diet includes vegetables, soya and protein shakes. He feels the change in his diet has helped him improve his game.
In this age of fleeting fads, one trend that is catching on fast is veganism. More and more people are choosing the vegan lifestyle as they are becoming aware of their surroundings and are choosing to opt for humane dietary options. We live in a world with so many options, and once you realise you can live a life without consuming animal products, you take a step towards a better future.
But many are forced back into old habits because they are not prepared for all the different things that veganism brings with itself.
To help out those who want to shift to a vegan diet, here are a few things to keep n mind.
1. Make the Shift Gradual
Some people might be okay with going cold turkey, but many find it helpful to ease into a new lifestyle. Don't be hasty and start out slow by replacing dairy and meat with vegan alternatives.
Start by adding more plant-based foods to your diet, while at the same time, cutting back on animal products, especially those that are non-organic, and more importantly processed, refined foods. Making gradual changes and assessing how you are feeling along the way is key.
2. Having a Cheat Day Is Okay
Be loving and kind to yourself. If you haven’t reached your goals yet or feel like you’re not doing things perfectly, don’t beat yourself up. Keep your vision in mind and work towards it, but accept where you are right now and take it step by step.
You will find success after failure, and falling off the wagon is not a sign that you are not strong enough.
3. You Can Find Enough Proteins Other Than Dairy
Certain foods like soy, buckwheat etc contain all nine essential amino acids found in proteins in roughly equal amounts. This helps your body create a “pool” of amino acids from the food you eat throughout the day.
So, if you eat oats in the morning, a salad at lunch, and legumes for dinner, your body will pool together all the essential amino acids from these foods and use them as needed to make proteins. As long as you are eating an assortment of plant foods over the course of a day, your body will take care of your protein intake.
4. Be Ready to Notice Some Changes In Your Bowel Movements
Don’t be alarmed if you notice some changes in your routine. Dietary fiber, which is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, is most often associated with the prevention and relief of constipation.
Fiber includes those parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest and is made of carbohydrates that the body can’t absorb. Fiber also helps you maintain a healthy weight and lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
5. You’ll Have to Change the Quantity of Food You Consume
Eat a lot of food. This is something you will have to get accustomed to.
This is true especially when you focus on whole foods. So, load up on baked potatoes, quinoa, beans, salad and fresh fruit. Eat to your heart’s content and never deprive yourself.
6. Be Prepared to Read Food Labels
If you're serious about being vegan, checking food labels and verifying ingredients is a must. Just because a food product is not glaringly non-vegan doesn't mean that it's suitable for a vegan diet.
7. There Will Be a Lot of Temptations
When you’re on the move, there are most likely going to be stimulants and temptations in the form of animal-based and processed foods around you.
But there’s surely nothing easier than carrying along a few bananas or apples whenever you’re going somewhere where you are not sure if you’ll get vegan food items.
8. There Are Many Vegan Replacements for Meat and Milk
Paneer can be easily replaced with tofu and cow/buffalo milk with soy, almond, cashew or coconut milk as it is readily available at most grocers. These would be great stopgap arrangements as you transition to a diet filled with more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, combined with the occasional servings of vegan dairy and meat alternatives.
If you look, you will find a lot of vegan alternatives that will constitute for a healthy and exciting meal.
9. You Need a Support System
Many people try to make the transition into the world of veganism alone, but if you have a group, community, or friends who are vegan, the transition is smoother and easier. Find other vegans in your area and meet with them, attend some potlucks, learn recipes from them. This will help you transition into the lifestyle.
Veganism is not only a diet change, it is a lifestyle change that can affect everything around you, from your physique to your relationships, and you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. It is very easy to fall into temptation and give into cravings, but veganism is a lifestyle that will benefit you and the environment in the long run. It will also leave a smaller carbon footprint in the world.
(The author is the world’s first vegan to climb the Mt Everest. He’s “a mountaineer by passion and a vegan by compassion.” The views expressed above are the author’s own. FIT neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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