A vegan diet is one that consists of only plant-based food products. There are many reasons why people decided to follow this lifestyle, such as ethical or environmental factors and it is becoming more and more prominent.
Two years ago, I decided to reduce the amount of animal-based products I was eating. I was eating vegan 4 out of 7 days a week. In January 2021 I decided to take the plunge and give Veganuary a go and I haven’t looked back since! There are so many options out there now and many supermarkets have designated sections for plant-based foods making it that little bit easier. Below are my top tips for beginning your healthy plant-based journey.
1. Take it one day at a time
When I first started following a vegan diet it was quite overwhelming and I’ll be honest with you I did have a few slip-ups. I think it’s totally normal to make these mistakes and you should not put pressure on yourself to be absolutely perfect, especially at the beginning. I would recommend starting slow and gradually phasing out animal products. Begin with 1/2 days plant-based, slowly increasing until before you know it it’s a full week. Becoming vegan shouldn’t be seen as a restriction more of a positive lifestyle change. There are some that would find they could never do it because they would miss one certain food and what you need to remember is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Having plant-based meals a few days a week is better than no days.
Just to note that Veganuary is always a great time to try introducing more vegan dishes in your diet. There is a whole online community which shares vegan recipes, tips, and tricks to help you along the way.
2. Choosing healthy options
I think there is a misconception that if something says ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ its automatically healthy. However, this is not always necessarily true. Making informed choices is essential to a successful vegan diet. The key is to get creative and try things you wouldn’t usually have! Include a lot of fruit, vegetables, beans, and legumes (great source of protein) and high fibre foods.
Today there are so many options for those following a plant-based diet, especially when it comes to meat alternatives. While this is great and makes being vegan a lot more accessible, these meat substitutes can be heavily processed and therefore may not always be the healthiest option. I like to use tofu in a lot of dishes as it is a minimally processed, good source of protein. Just a warning, it can be quite bland so marinating or lots of seasoning is definitely recommended! Another alternative instead of using a processed meat substitute is mushrooms. Mushrooms are so versatile and are packed full of nutrients. You can do a lot with mushrooms from mince to pulled “pork”, there is something for everyone. I know mushrooms aren’t for everyone, I’m one of those people, but I promise if you try these you won’t regret it.
There are so many delicious recipes out there now so it’s time to get into the kitchen and get cooking!
3. Remember your supplements
While following a vegan diet, supplements are very important. There are certain vitamins and nutrients that are not as prominent in a plant-based diet. Vitamin B12 is one example of this, an essential vitamin for energy production. A lot of vitamin B12 is found in meat products, therefore avoiding this can result in consuming lower levels. I would definitely recommend to supplement in a few areas, below are my top picks. I have also included a gut health supplement. I think everyone regardless of being vegan or not, should invest in a probiotic supplement. Having an optimal environment in the gut will ensure that you are absorbing the most nutrients from the food you are consuming.
Another thing I would say is to remember why you’re doing this. Whether it’s to challenge yourself for a month or to make a long-term lifestyle change reminding yourself why you’ve decided to go plant-based will set you up for success!