Veganism is a lifestyle that seeks to exclude all forms of animal exploitation, including meat, eggs, honey, wool, and other items derived from animals.
There are many reasons why people stop eating animal products. Some may not like the taste, some may be allergic, and others may be concerned about the ethics of consuming animals. The most popular reason nowadays is the health benefits.
Sometimes, you might think it's hard to get the nutrients you need while following a vegan diet. It's important to understand that there are plenty of fresh, healthy plant-based foods that help meet your nutritional needs. There are also many vitamin supplements available for people who want to ensure they're getting all the nutrients they need.
Since it’s Vegan month, some of you might be trying the Veganuary challenge. Here are some easy tips for eating healthy and feeling great while following a vegan lifestyle.
1. Make Veggies Wonderful to Look at and Tempting to Eat
A great meal does not have to be centered around meat, there I said it, (say it louder for the people at the back!). People focus on what they cannot have when they should be focusing more on what they can. Vegetables can often be the better choice, providing way more vitamins and minerals for your body compared to meat. They also contain a lot of fiber, making your food a lot easier to digest and can leave you feeling fuller for longer. No vegetable is the same, so you have a lot of variety to choose from! So come on, give your vegetables the importance they rightfully deserve.
2. Great Dairy Free Alternatives Actually Exist
Let’s be really honest here guys, it can be easy to forget, or get annoyed by the restrictions given in a vegan diet. I know, when you begin to think about it, especially for the bakers out there that vegans wipe out dairy from their diet, it becomes hard to imagine a life without these basic ingredients that are literally on everything we eat. Hold your horses! The truth is that there are real alternatives are out there, vegan butter, vegan yogurt, vegan friendly milk. They exist! Plenty of options for you to choose from in the supermarket and beyond. You don’t have to lose anything; all you’re doing is making slight adjustments to your diet.
3. Add Carbohydrates Especially if it's Wholegrain!
A really useful tip is to swap out refined grains (white bread, white pasta) and replace it with wholegrain foods such as brown bread, brown rice. Refined grains strip the nutrients that are extremely important in a vegan diet, things like iron and vitamin B. There’s no wrong in also adding extra fibre to your diet either, it will bulk up your meal, allowing you to feel full after every meal.
4. Many Plant-based Protein Foods are Available and Affordable
Of course, when you think of protein the first thing that pops into your head would be the obvious, animal based protein like meat, fish, poultry. People always forget how easy it is to find plant based proteins too. Things like nuts, tofu, beans, chickpeas! These things have the added bonus of not being high in saturated fat that tend to be unhealthy. You’ll also be getting iron in your diet too. Although you’ll need to have lots of variety in your diet, compared to animal sourced protein which contain larger amounts in a single serving. So be sure to monitor what you’re eating, and you should be fine!
5. It's Important to Get the Right Nutrients
Now this can mean a lot of things really. Omega 3, B12 and vitamin D spring to mind. Omega 3 maintains a healthy heart and can even reduce heart disease while B12 helps you to convert food into energy Vitamin D keep bones, muscles and teeth healthy. You can find these in meat, fish and poultry but it’s a little harder to guess where they are in plant based foods. Here’s a quick list of a few alternatives.
Vitamin D – Exposure to sunlight, vitamin D fortified foods such as spreads, cereals (with vitamin D added
B12 – This is the trickiest. B12 is almost exclusively found naturally in animal based foods. Foods which contain B12 are added onto the product like Cereals fortified with B12, yeast extract e.g. Marmite, fortified with vitamin B12.
6. Vegan ≠ Healthy!
This is a common misconception people have. The most poignant example I can think of is looking at vegan sweets. Now if you check the nutritional list, you’ll most likely find a high amount of sugar on there. Just because it’s vegan does not mean it’s healthy for you, even if they are plant based, sugar is plant-based too! Be sure to check, if you’re aiming to lose weight using the vegan diet.
7. On and off is Better than Nothing.
The vegan diet can be a little strict compared to the diet a lot of people have so don’t be down if you have wavered slightly from your plan. The world is better if people cut down on meat for a single day a week, let alone their entire lives. Let’s be honest here, a single day of meatless food is better than no days of meatless food. I think what we can all take from Veganism is to try your best to monitor what you’re eating and it’s all made us think deeply about what we eat. So pat yourself on the back for giving this a go!