I have been a vegetarian but for the past 5 years, I am a vegan. I started exploring veganism and now I am here to share my knowledge.
It is a common conception among people that going vegan is hard. Those that do not know any vegans may even think it's impossible. Whether or not it is challenging, we imagine that many people don't choose to live a vegan lifestyle because of the misconception that they would have to give up all their favorite foods and meals.
But this couldn't be much further from the truth! There are plenty of delicious, easy-to-make vegan recipes out there. In fact, you might be surprised at how many products in grocery stores are already vegan! If you're considering going vegan but aren't sure where to start, here are some tips and tricks for making the transition easier.
1. Start with the basics.
First and foremost, your diet should be plant-based. There are vegan diets out there that allow you to eat dairy, eggs, or other animal products occasionally, but this is typically done in order to get you used to the idea of being vegan before making the complete leap to no animal food whatsoever. Plant-based diets are usually lower in fat than animal-based diets, so it is important that you start off right.
In your first week of being vegan, try eating a diet of whole foods—unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and lentils, and nuts. It is useful to know a rough estimate of calories so that you don't accidentally overeat. Check the nutrition facts panel on packaged foods or use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your intake.
It's also important to be careful about your calcium intake. Although many plant-based foods are chock full of calcium, some still think that vegans are deficient in the mineral. For example, there is controversy over whether or not soy milk truly provides enough calcium. There is also some debate over whether or not you need to combine certain food items at the same time in order to get the most out of their complementary nutrients.
2. Start slow.
Don't try to do it all at once! When people first go vegan, they often set a goal for themselves of going 100% vegan overnight—but this can be a recipe for disaster.
3. Replace animal products with alternatives.
Animal products are typically high in fat. In order to keep fat intake down like a vegan, it is important to find some alternatives that provide you with those fatty nutrients that you crave but do not come from animals.
One of the most common vegan "go-to" items is tofu. Not only is tofu high in protein, but it's also low in fat while retaining familiar flavors and textures. Tofu seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat gluten) is another great option for finding your favorite animal product-free meal. There are also many other types of seitan that are made either from soy or wheat that can be used interchangeably with meat.
4. Plant-based proteins are easy to find.
One of the main concerns with going vegan is the fear of not knowing what to eat and not liking any vegan options. There is actually a great variety of plant-based proteins you can eat! Some popular choices include:
Vegan chicken: Tofu and seitan are commonly used as substitutes for chicken, but there are other options as well. If you find that you can't get enough meat substitute pre-made items, then try creating your own! For example, you can easily make your own jerk tofu or curry tofu by soaking chickpeas overnight in a jar of spicy sauce.
Vegan beef: If you're not into tofu or seitan, then you can easily replace the flavor of the meat with onions and garlic. This is called "meaty broth" and is an excellent substitute for any dish. Try adding some nutritional yeast (available in most grocery stores) to the broth for extra flavor. Beef-less stew is also a popular dish among vegans, but be sure to make it with vegetable-based broth instead of beef.
Vegan lamb: You'll find different cuts of lamb at nearly every grocery store these days! Lamb substitutes are actually one of the easiest ways to get a bit more protein in your diet without having to rely on beans or seitan.
Other vegan proteins you can incorporate into your meals are tofu, tempeh, and soybeans.
5. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables!
We've already discussed how it's important to make sure you are getting enough calcium in your diet, but it's also vital to include plenty of whole foods rich in various vitamins and minerals. Some examples:
Fruits – Summer is the best time for strawberries – so stock up! You can also eat other seasonal fruit such as mangoes and bananas.
Vegetables – Although almost any veggie is a good one, some of the most common varieties eaten by vegans are artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, and spinach.
Whole grains – Whole grains include bread and pasta made from whole wheat flour as well as brown rice. Whole-grain products are usually better for you since they contain more fiber and nutrients than their processed counterparts. In addition to eating these foods in their natural forms (i.e., whole-wheat pasta instead of white pasta), you can also find them in cereal bars and high-fiber cereals.
6. Don't panic.
Don't let yourself get overwhelmed by the idea of how hard it is to eat as a vegan or by the negative connotations that surround being vegan. By starting small and replacing your favorite animal products, you will soon find that eating as a vegan is easier than you imagined!
These are some of the few steps you can involve while changing your lifestyle gradually and slowly.
You should not go 100% vegan at once, as you will soon feel all the challenges of a vegan diet.
Go a step at a time and make sure you do not go too far. It's better to start by going to eat a vegan meal at least three times a week, and if possible take the next step by going one more day without eating meat or dairy products.
If anyone starts nagging you to eat meat, tell them that you're fine with being vegan from now on! You may think that there are no other options for protein sources but the truth is that there are plenty of options already available in your kitchen.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Deepanshu yadav