If you’ve been brought up on a meat, fish and dairy-filled diet, it can be a tough move to make to go onto a plant-based, whole foods diet. It’s like smoking since you were a small child and then suddenly stopping; it tends to be a tricky process to go cold turkey and is a shock to the system.
Not just this, your habits, go-to meals, menu choices when you eat out, shopping list are all made more difficult due to the fact that you actually have to think about what you like eating as well as making sure there are the right ingredients in the products to conform to your dietary requirements.
As such, some vegans will revert back to old ways and begin eating what they used to. This can be because of withdrawal symptoms, having a hard time from friends and family about the change, or experiencing feelings of depression and/or fatigue without meat, dairy and fish in their diet.
The ideas below are on hand to give you some helpful direction to stay happy and healthy on a vegan diet and help you stay on track with the conscious choice you’ve made to enjoy better health, save animals from suffering and make a difference to the environment.
1. Take supplements
The only thing you can’t get from a vegan diet is vitamin B12, although vitamin D, iodine, and DHA – a long-chain omega-3 fat- can sometimes be trickier to come across than in non-vegan diets.
Having a deficiency in these essential vitamins and minerals can bring on feelings of depression, damage concentration levels and amount to greater vague. But if you simply take daily supplements then you can overcome the issue in a matter of seconds every day without having your conscience weighing down on you!
2. Make sure you get the right proteins
You need to ensure you’re getting the correct amount of protein in your diet, although carbs are more important, and you’ll never see anyone getting ill from protein deficiency, it’s still important to keep it prevalent for healthy living.
Essentially, the main element for meeting protein needs is to consume at just servings of soy foods, beans, or peanuts (known as legumes) each day. You can eat more, but 15-25 grams per day will do you just fine.
3. Get enough fat
Fats, usually acquired from sources such as fish contain essential omega-3 fat, so leaving it out of your diet can mean you fall short on something you need. But, hold on, you can obtain the fats you need from nuts and seeds, so that’s another worry over.
It’s cases such as this and the protein propaganda that frighten people into thinking that they will only ever be able to survive on a meat-rich diet, and it’s simply untrue.
4. Don’t forget your iron
If you don’t get enough iron regularly, you can suffer from iron-deficiency anaemia which is common for all diet types, although when vegans develop it, you may hear the same old chimes from people blaming your diet which can cause you to go back to your old diet of red meat as this is seen to carry sufficient stores of iron.
Fear not though, because you can avoid this problem simply by consuming lots of whole grains and the legumes we mentioned earlier, as well as plentiful sources of vitamin C at meals. You can find this is citrus fruits and strawberries along with lesser known sources including, peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, cauliflower, and cabbage, believe it or not.
By having vitamin C in your diet, it drastically upgrades your iron absorption, and this is why you need to stay on top of your vitamin intake as well.
5. Now for the carbs…
People lose a lot of sleep when it comes to the myths around carbs and you simply cannot function without sleep, by the way (read more on that subject here)!
Carbs proven to help people sleep, they are your energy source and all whole plant foods are good for you, and as long as you opt for low glycaemic index food choices, you can prevent unwanted fluctuations in blood sugar.
Ideally, choose sweet potatoes over regular white one. Other prime examples of making the right carb choices include:
• Quinoa, oats, and barley as opposed to rice
• Eating beans cooked from scratch instead of canned options
• Bread made from grains that haven’t been ground into flour
6. Just go for the convenient choice if you fancy it
Being vegan opens up a world of possibility when it comes to trying new flavours, recipes, combinations and of course convenience products.
A lot of people can still live an unhealthy life of snacks and treats that aren’t good for you, like crisps and biscuits, for example. The idea that vegans live like animals grazing on nothing but grass and seeds is just ridiculous.
However, no matter how strict you are with your diet, it’s nice to let yourself enjoy something ‘naughty’; the only difference being that the vegan treats are normally still better than the non-vegan ones!
At the end of the day, you should feel happy and full of life that you are making a change for the better in the world, and you’re part of an ever-growing positive movement that you should take heart from. Keep up the good work!