Whether you’re looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle – rich with veggies and meat alternatives – or simply want to decrease your consumption of animal products, a plant-based diet might be what you’re looking for. If you’re struggling to figure out exactly how to start incorporating new, vegan items into your diet, then you’ve come to the right place. In addition to covering exactly what a vegan diet might look like, we’ll also be going over subjects like:
Plant-based diets are, well, exactly what they sound like. They’re diets that involve vastly reducing or completely eliminating animal products from meals and mostly center on incorporating fruits and vegetables, nuts, grains, beans, and other animal-free foods into your diet.
Even if you’ve been thinking about starting a plant-based diet for a while, you should never just jump head first into a new diet without considering how it’ll affect your health, your lifestyle, and your mind.
If you’re going from eating meat, especially red meat, it can be a shock to the body if you immediately stop eating that source of protein altogether and go fully vegan. That being said, it also goes the opposite way.
If you’re thinking about switching over to veganism – and if you eventually want to transition back to meat-based protein – you should never just jump back into that diet. This can be damaging to the digestive system, causing stomach pain and extreme fluctuations in your energy levels and mood. So with this in mind, you should consider what transitioning to a plant-based diet might mean for you specifically and whether it’s something sustainable for your lifestyle.
In addition to weighing whether a vegan diet, or any plant-based diet, would be right for you, you should first begin thinking about whether you’re willing to let the diet impact other parts of your life. Below are just a few of the things that you should be prepared to change if you transition to a plant-based diet.
Like mentioned above, you should take some time to consider how a plant-based diet will affect your body. Do you have health restrictions that might make it difficult to try out this new diet? Do you have certain allergies that would make it difficult to find foods that are both vegan and work around your allergy? Considering these questions is a great start to deciding whether a vegan diet might be viable for you, but ultimately you know your body best.
If you start a vegan diet, you should be prepared for some changes you might experience. Your gut health might improve, you could potentially lose some weight, it can improve your heart health, and you could even be reducing your risk of cancer.
On the other end, you might experience some adverse effects. People have seen changes to their skin as they switch to a vegan diet, especially if soy becomes a common part of their meals, because of hormone shifts. You might experience more breakouts temporarily, but they can subside over time. It’s also possible to experience some vitamin deficiencies, like Omega-3 and B-12 when you opt for less meat, seafood, and dairy. This being said, everyone’s body reacts to plant-based diets differently, so these effects can be exaggerated compared to reality.
One common occurrence with switching to veganism, and then back to an animal-abundant diet, are stomach aches and pains when you begin to start eating animal products again. When your body isn’t used to meat for an extended period of time, you might experience symptoms like diarrhea as your body readjusts. The best way to make this transition back is to slowly integrate animal products back into your diet, starting with fish, then poultry, then red meats over time.
There’s nothing specific you have to change about your physical kitchen in order to transition to a plant-based diet. However, you should be prepared to see some changes in your kitchen and your pantry as you change your eating habits.
Depending on where you live and what grocery stores are available nearby, you might need to try out different stores to find vegan-friendly food that suits your tastes, preferences, and price range. This is crucial to consider before starting a plant-based diet – do you have access to vegan food? And more importantly, are these foods within your budget and will they provide you with the necessary vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy?
It can be more time consuming to search for foods that contain no traces of animal products, or if you want to steer as clear away from animal products as possible, have not been created in the presence of animal products. Some foods that are not as obviously thought of as non-vegan include some chocolates, candy that includes gelatin, select sugars, honey, miso soup, some breads, and even some soy-based yogurts and cheeses. So be careful and look closely at those labels!
This one sounds odd, we know. You might be thinking, ‘how much do I really need to do in order to mentally prepare for a plant-based diet?’ But the truth is, you’ll be facing some unexpected challenges and restrictions that might require more dietary discipline than you’re used to.
If you enjoy going out to eat with your friends at fast food restaurants or like to enjoy a fancy dinner with your loved one every once in a while, your meal options may be greatly reduced or there might be no plant-based options at all. This is most important to keep in mind if you’re trying out a completely vegan diet, but this might be a little easier to navigate if you have some leeway with how often or how intensely you avoid animal products.
One change you might encounter to offset your eating out habits is by cooking more at home instead. This is a great way to learn more recipes and explore your taste preferences, though it can be a little time consuming depending on what you make. This is also the easiest way to ensure that what you’re eating is solely plant-based because you’re the one in complete control of the ingredients.
It can also be difficult to stay motivated to continue with veganism if you’re constantly being surrounded by animal products or if you have strong sugar cravings. Go into your new diet with a disciplined mindset to stay on track of the diet. Also, finding plant-based alternatives for your favorite junk food, snacks, and sweet treats is an effective way to curb your cravings.
Plant based recipes and cooking videos can be found online, on social media, and in vegan cook books. If you have vegan pals, ask them about what recipes they enjoy the most and how they stuck to their diet. For some plant-based recipes that are protein packed, check out this post from Healthy Skoop.
If you’ve decided that a plant based diet is right for you, the next step is to start implementing it into your everyday mix. Before you begin your vegan journey, consider what sort of restriction you want to impose on your diet.
There are a variety of types of vegan diets, though all of them include abstaining from eating animal products. Some of the types include the raw vegan diet, gluten-free vegan diet, fruitarian diet, whole food diet, paleo vegan diet, and many more. These types of diets tend to be even more restrictive than general veganism is, so you might be more successful starting out with eliminating animal products then slowly moving to one of these diets if that is something you’re interested in.
One of the most effective ways to begin a plant-based diet is by gradually adding in more meals that are plant based and reducing the number of meals you eat that include meat, poultry, or fish. Trying out a new recipe or two each week that specifically are vegan friendly is a great way to begin experimenting with ingredients you enjoy and finding meals that you can eat in the future.
To make the beginning of your transition even more smooth, start with vegetarianism and then move to veganism if you’re experiencing a lot of challenges with a full-on move to veganism. Additionally, researching vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants as you make the move to a plant based diet can be an easy way to maintain the diet even if you’re craving eating out.
An important skill to build as you’re moving to a plant based diet is being able to identify non-vegan ingredients that can be tricky to notice immediately. Some of these non-vegan ingredients include beeswax, honey, casein, confectioner’s glaze, gelatin, isinglass, L. Cysteine, whey, and other related animal byproducts. Once you look at a few labels in grocery stores, it can be easy to spot vegan and non-vegan products.
The recent rise in popularity of veganism in the past decade has also made it significantly easier to eat a plant-based diet, at least in certain parts of the United States and in major cities elsewhere. More restaurants are offering vegan options or are totally vegan, and many major food companies are adding plant based options to their product lines. Some grocery stores have plant based frozen food and snack sections, too. Vegan options are out there, you might just have to spend some time looking for them.
An essential part of moving towards a plant based diet is making sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of vitamins and protein. Taking a plant based dietary supplement is a great way to stay on track with your diet while also looking after your wellness. If you’re not getting enough protein in your diet, adding a plant based protein powder like the Healthy Skoop Plant Powered Daily Protein is the perfect place to start.
Adding your health supplement or protein powder to a daily breakfast smoothie is a great combination that will ensure you’re getting the right amount of vitamins while also getting a hearty serving of vegetables and fruit at the same time.
For more vegan breakfast recipes and ideas, check out this guide from Healthy Skoop on high-protein breakfast foods.
Next time you’re browsing your local grocery store’s shelves, take a second to look around and check out all of the vegan options presented. If the plant based options around you are tickling your fancy, and if it seems like a vegan diet would be a sustainable option for your needs and your lifestyle, consider trying it out. It can be a difficult transition, but with the right mindset, access to vegan options, and alternatives to non-plant based options, you’ll be well on your way being a vegan.