VEGANISM FOR COMPLETE NEWBIES
So, you’ve decided to become a Vegan. Well, it is the latest trend all over the world and with all the delicious meals and health benefits you see online, how can you not be drawn into this way of life?!
Whilst we cannot statistically measure the increase of veganism in South Africa, it definitely has become evident that more and more people are turning to this way of living. In a survey done by The Vegan Society last year, it showed that Great Britain had seen a 360 % increase in veganism over the last decade.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle comes with a lot of questions and concerns. To help you with this, we’ve put together some information that can make this transition a little easier for you.
Where To Start?
Eating a vegan diet can be a healthy way to eat when your meals are full of vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. You need a well-planned vegan diet to make sure you don’t miss out on essential nutrients or end up eating only processed vegan foods.
Make Vegetables the Stars of Your Meals. People often get hung up on what they can’t have on a plant-based diet, instead of what they can. But a great meal does not have to centre on meat. Veggie-packed meals are a winning choice all-around: veggies are full of vitamins (like A and K) and minerals (like potassium), they keep your calories in check and, because they are high in fibre, they can help you feel more satisfied.
Choose Whole Grains. Swapping out refined grains, such as white pasta and white bread, for whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa, adds iron and B vitamins to a vegan diet (nutrients that are stripped out when the grains are refined). And, the extra fibre from whole grains will help keep you full and may even help you lose weight.
What Are The Differences Between Vegans and Vegetarians?
Chances are you understand vegetarians, and there is a pretty good chance you know a few people who eat this way.
Vegans follow a stricter diet than vegetarians. They don’t eat meat, fish, poultry or any other animal products and by-products, such as eggs, dairy products and honey.
Are There True Health Benefits To Veganism?
A plant-based diet consists of more than just fresh fruits and vegetables – Whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds also make up a substantial portion of this way of eating. Vegans rely heavily on all of these staples to receive all of their vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Vegans eat a significant amount of these healthy foods, so they have more access to vitamins B1, C, E, folic acid, magnesium, and iron. At the same time, their diets are low in cholesterol and saturated fats that can lead to adverse health consequences.
A plant-based vegan diet reduces many conditions that Westerners regularly experience such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Ischemic heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain Cancers
Why No Dairy?
All vegans (or at least true vegans) abstain from consuming dairy products. Some do so for nutritional reasons; others abstain for ethical reasons.
Those who do it for nutritional reasons cite a range of health problems related to the consumption of dairy products, including high cholesterol. Many also have a problem digesting lactose or have a blood-iron or diabetic problem related to the milk protein, casein. In addition to this, milk and cheese often contain small portions of undesirable hormones that are added to dairy cow feeds to increase production.
Those who abstain from consuming dairy products for ethical reasons also have a range of reasons for doing so. Some cite the poor treatment of dairy cows as the main reason for not consuming milk and cheese.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what Veganism is, here are a few tips we’d like to share with you before starting on this journey:
1. Start with an open mind
There’s no surer way to guarantee failure than to go into it with a bad attitude. Unfortunately, this is not something that’s easy for many folks to do. If you think that going vegan is going to be a punishment or that you won’t last, then it will be, and you won’t.
If cooking at home, give yourself extra time to cook, particularly at the beginning. For most people, designing meals 100% around vegetables is going to be a completely foreign concept and one that requires planning and extra time in the kitchen, even for a seasoned pro.
2. You’ll need a B12 supplement
Vitamin B12 occurs naturally only in animal foods, so you’ll want to stock up on a variety of B12-fortified foods as well as a B12 supplement. B12 keeps the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, so deficiencies can lead to tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss (the bad kind), nerve problems, and depression. To find out if you need to up your intake, we suggest you visit your GP and get some blood tests done.
3. Take a look at your kitchen cupboards
Is it full of meat-based condiments, dried pasta, rice, potatoes, and the like? If so, you’re not going to have a fun time trying to cook. Make sure your cupboards stay stocked with plenty of beans and whole grains, hearty leafy grains like kale, spinach, and other vegan-friendly sauces.
4. Avoid convenience and processed foods.
If all you live on as a vegan is a frozen pizza, veggie burger patties and ready-made meals, you will not be a happy eater. Meat substitutes are also often highly processed and loaded with sodium and preservatives, so read labels carefully.
Rather take a walk down the produce section. Going vegan is the perfect excuse to load up on all kinds of vegetables that you’ve never regularly eaten before.
5. If you’re going on a road trip, take food with you.
In fact, have snacks and emergency rations available to you at all times. It’s not that you’ll get hungrier as a vegan, it’s just that on the off-chance that you do end up missing lunch or forgetting it at home, your options as a vegan on the road (or in unfamiliar territory) are usually limited. Some fresh fruit, a good salad, or even trail mix can be a lifesaver in those situations.
6. Stay strong.
You won’t just wake up one morning magically vegan – it takes work, so it should also take time. The first few days might be tough, but once you get into the swing of things, it becomes easier and easier.
7. Educate others
The best way to help people and win them over is to teach by action, no lecturing. Bring some vegan food over or treat them to a vegan meal.
If you want to make the change and keep your friends while you’re at it, you have to realise that not everybody is at the same place in their life, and not everybody has the same value system as yours.
If you do choose to take on Veganism as your new lifestyle choice, we can only wish you the best of luck on your new journey. Just remember, don’t be too hard on yourself and take it one step at a time.
The Point Team x