Veganism and plant-based diets have become a huge trend over the past year or two, and it’s getting more and more popular. Many people are turning to vegansim as a kinder way to live, and thinking more about the impact it has on the environment and animal cruelty. However, it is still seen as a relatively new concept to most. And although there are now many more vegan food choices, which make it easier to convert to vegan, it can still be a daunting and steep learning curve to adopt this new way of eating as part of a daily diet.
Perhaps you’ve thought about turning vegan but have no idea where to start. Or maybe you're simply interested to find out more about adopting a plant-based diet. You might even read this and think, oh I could never be vegan. I hear you! I was that very same person back in 2017. Looking back, I never imagined that I would now be helping and educating others on how to go vegan.
Making a transition to a plant-based diet or even just introducing a few vegan options to your meals is easier than you think. That's why I'm here to share with you some of my top easy tips that anyone can try.
1. Start small.
Make small changes and adjustments at first, remember that you don't need to make the switch overnight. By taking little steps at a time you’re going to make it much easier on yourself. I began by cutting out small items such as milk. This was easy because of the range of plant milks widely available in all good supermarkets these days. You can also start by introducing one meat-free or dairy free day a week. Try having “meatless Monday.” This is a great campaign initiative to help people cut down on their meat consumption. And you can find many great recipe ideas on their website. One of my top go-to sites for vegan starter recipes and tips is Veganuary. This is another great campaign initiative to help people try being vegan for one month, and it's how I made the transition myself.
2. Do your research
The number one thing I always say to people is to do your own research, and make sure it's from a reputable source, such as The Vegan Society. There are an array of vegan cookbooks on the market from simple choices to more elaborate. One of my favourites is '15 Minute Vegan' by Katy Beskow. It's packed full of modern yet quick and simple recipes, a great way to get started. Plant-based documentaries such as the popular What the Health, not only helps us to educate ourselves, but helps to inform and reminds ourselves why we made this choice in the first place.
By becoming better informed, you will understand the true benefits of being vegan, and you will learn how you can get all of the healthy nutrients your body needs from vegan food. For example, if you are removing meat from your meals, you should aim to replace it with the equivalent amount of protein. A vegan alternatives could be chickpeas, beans or lentils – all of these are rich and healthy sources of plant protein.
“If you are removing meat from your meals, you should aim to replace it with the equivalent amount of protein.”
3. Don't be scared to try new things
Don’t be scared to try out new foods, new recipes at home or new dishes in your favourite restaurant. We get so used to always cooking and eating the same way, but trying new options is the only way to discover new delicious food.
And as veganism continues to grow, you’ll find there are now plant-based alternatives in supermarkets for every animal product you can think of, including vegan cheese, sausages and even chocolate. There really is no better time to consider changing to a vegan diet.
The Veganuary site is a fantastic resource for finding fun vegan recipes, one of my favouites is their Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies, (below) which are very easy to make and are a really delicious treat!
4. Get used to checking food labels
Eating a clean, healthy and natural diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole-grains, really is the best thing we can do for our bodies. I mostly try to avoid buying packaged or processed foods but sometimes a little convenience is needed. Many packaged and convenience food products found on supermarket shelves can contain animal products like milk powder and eggs without us even realising. It's only when we begin to check food packets that we start to find what is "vegan friendly" and what isn't. And not every vegan product will carry a Vegan approved sticker or label, so by getting used to checking food labels, you’ll start to learn which foods to avoid and which are safe. There is a fantastic list of accidental vegan foods here by Vegan Friendly.org.
5. Use social media
There is a never-ending abundance of vegan recipes, advice and support across social media channels these days. Most of my own recipe and meal ideas came from posts I've found on Instagram and Facebook. Just be mindful of where you gain your information from. Social media is accessible to most, this means that there is a lot of mis-information continually being circulated. By following reputable and certified vegan health coaches or other reliable sources such as Veganuary or the Vegan Society, you can be reassured that you're not being mis-fed incorrect or biased information. Check out the Vegan Fitness Co on Instagram too!
A great way to find vegan restaurants in your area or when travelling is through apps or websites like Happy Cow. This site is packed with hundreds of vegan restaurant reviews and healthy food guides. You can search for what's nearby and read reviews from other customers. Their app is very useful when travelling or if you're in a new an unfamiliar town.
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Turning vegan is not so easy or simple for everyone. Giving up your favourite foods can be over-whelming at first. And knowing what foods to add to your diet to give you the right nutrients can also be a daunting task. However, it’s become a lot easier to be vegan and you'll soon discover that there are so many delicious food choices that you'll wonder why you didn't make the switch sooner!
With more and more supermarkets dedicating larger areas or even whole aisles with just vegan specific food these days, there really is no better time to go vegan. And many restaurants are now catering to the demand by adding more vegan options to their menus. If you find it difficult at first, just remind yourself of the reasons you decided to make the change. Think about the benefits and take a moment to reflect on why you made this choice. Whatever your reasons for turning vegan, I 100% believe it is a healthier and kinder way to live