The Vegan Diet - An Easy Guide for Beginners
A World of Options for Vegans
Our vegan diet guide is filled with lots of tips, tricks, and hacks. This will help you to thrive while transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.
Before starting your vegan journey, it is important to think in terms of abundance instead of limitations. Instead of thinking, “Oh, I can't eat all these foods” it may be more helpful to flip it and instead tell yourself “Oh! I get to eat all of these foods.” Not that people don't eat plant-based foods on a standard diet, but the focus changes.
With the vegan diet, you will notice and appreciate new foods and recipes, you can appreciate all the colors and variety in your food. And, you can appreciate how good you feel.
This little mental switch may help you with veganism. Plus, it's just good to adopt this mindset for many other journeys and challenges in life.
A Good General Rule of the Vegan Diet
Not all vegan diets are made the same. With growing popularity, there are many vegan products on the market today. While many of them are tasty, they can also be highly processed, unhealthy, and expensive. Many people enjoy these foods, and that is great, especially if it helps you. But having your diet centered on mock meats, and cheeses will defeat the purpose, and you could be missing out on the great benefits the vegan diet has to offer.
With that in mind, it is best to avoid refined oils (like canola oil and margarine), sugars, refined grains, and flours.
When going on a vegan diet it is most ideal to center it on plant-based whole foods. These are foods that are unprocessed and are purchased or prepared in their natural form. These are foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, unprocessed fats, and legumes. Usually these foods don't come in a package, and if they do, there should only be one ingredient.
Keeping the whole food plant-based diet in mind is the best long-term strategy for eating. This is the way one can prevent, and even reverse many diseases that can kill or keep us from living our full potential. Nutritional science can be so confusing and contradictory. This can be because many industries with different interests fund the studies to make their products seem healthy. Lifelong nutrition doesn’t have to be confusing when you keep those 4 words in mind - plant-based whole foods.
Benefits of a Vegan Diet
The list of benefits for following a vegan diet is long and worthwhile. We will focus on the health benefits for now because this is your journey, and it's about you. Not to overlook the amazing fact that animals don't have to die, and the health of the planet depends on sustainable, localized, plant-based food sources.
Plant-based foods can help manage your weight. This is because plant foods are less calorie dense than animal products. Most plant-based foods are abundant in fiber and are dense in other nutrients. Fiber is low in calories but helps keep us full longer. It also helps with digestion and keeps the heart healthy.
It is also great because you don’t have to worry about cutting calories. You may feel you need to eat more on a vegan diet. There is no shame in that because plant-based food is less calorie dense but holds more nutrients. Eating more can be beneficial and even recommended - A favorite part for many on a vegan diet. Simply listen to your body. If you need to eat more, then do so.
The vegan diet can even be less expensive. Again, by focusing on plant-based whole foods you'll find that foods like beans, oats, rice, potatoes, and many fruits and vegetables are extremely cheap. It always helps to shop in season and locally too.
The vegan diet can keep your mind strong by preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. It can improve your longevity because plant-based foods are high in antioxidants which protect our body from free radicals and cancer-causing inflammation. Lastly, it has the power to kill the number one killer in the United States: Heart disease.
Following a vegan diet can keep you lean and muscular long term. One thing many worry about switching to a vegan diet is the lack of protein and possible muscle loss. This is not true though as there are many plant-based protein sources, and the vegan diet may even be better for fueling and energizing the body.
How to get Started and Keep on Track
Starting the vegan diet may be a quick transition, or not, but either way it is a lifelong journey. Always take the time to learn new recipes, read new books, or watch documentaries on the subject. It is helpful to learn which foods are the best for your body, and to learn helpful tips from the many who have followed the diet for a long time.
Transitioning does not have to be an all or nothing experience. Start by choosing plant-based whole foods. Many people start off as vegetarian too. Take small steps and go for consistency, and most importantly, have fun.
It is good to have a purpose and a reason why. Maybe if you feel like you're getting off track, or just feeling down, try to remind yourself why you do this. Maybe your reason is a bit different than others, and that's ok. But it is almost always about caring. You care about your body, the animals, and the planet.
Living in Society as a Vegan
Restaurants can be tricky if you live in a smaller city or town and there is only a handful to choose from. However, many restaurants are becoming increasingly accommodating by carrying plant-based meats, and cheeses. If not, you can always look at menus online and even call in advance to ask if they can prepare something or make substitutions.
You can always prepare and bring something you are proud to make. Potluck style gatherings are always a great opportunity to do so. People are usually quite accommodating to their guests. Even meat enthusiasts are usually happy to try to make vegan dishes for their friends.
Travelling as a vegan should be an opportunity rather than a limitation. You can visit places that celebrate a more plant-based lifestyle. Or, you can check out Eat List to find vegan restaurants and more. Of course, you can visit local markets and cook food at your place of stay using local produce and ingredients.
Nutrition Myths and Tips
Plant protein is among one of the biggest myths in the vegan diet. Research suggests that protein deficiency is not a problem in the vegan diet unless one is restricting calories. If you feel you are not getting enough protein, then you may need to eat more. But, eating a variety of plant-based whole foods should be more than sufficient in terms of protein.
Vitamin B12 is produced by bacteria and not from animals. Due to sterile practices, plan-food does lack b12. However, it is recommended to take a supplement. Nutritional yeast also happens to be packed with it. Just a quarter cup can have 8 times your daily need.
A plant derived supplement can help with this. You can also eat chia, flax seed, hemp, and walnuts.
The plant based diet contains plenty of iron from sources like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, avocado, tofu, tempeh and potatoes.
This not just applies to people on a vegan diet but everyone. It may be beneficial to supplement with Vitamin b12, Vitamin D (if you don’t get much sun), and Omega 3.
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