Veganism has transcended from a type of diet into the hottest lifestyle trend that more and more people are embracing. Whether you’ve decided to make the switch because of your care for the environment or out of the concern for your health, the transition to a vegan diet might be a bit challenging. So, before throwing away all the meat, eggs and dairy from your fridge, here are several things you need to know.
A gradual transition
While the transition to veganism might not be a problem for vegetarians and people who generally don’t eat a lot of meat, it can be quite challenging for individuals whose diets are heavily based on animal products. If you’re one of them, you should gradually switch to a vegan diet by introducing smaller changes. As for some major changes, you should make them every now and then, rather than all at once. By going one step at a time, you’ll be more likely to stick to veganism.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Leaving behind animal foods means that you’ll also leave behind vitamin B12 that occurs naturally only in animal products. Since vitamin B12 is essential for your body to function properly, its deficiency can cause a series of health problems, including weakness, constipation, fatigue, loss of appetite, nerve issues, depression, etc. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance that you take a B12 supplement on a regular basis to stay healthy.
Protein is another nutrient essential for your health and well-being, so you need to continue consuming it regularly. With plenty of natural and vegan-friendly sources, including beans, quinoa, lentils, soy and seitan, there’s no need to take any additional protein supplements.
However, you should be careful about how much protein you consume because too much of it isn’t healthy and may cause health problems, such as osteoporosis, calcium stones in the urinary tract and liver problems. In addition, despite the popular belief, protein isn’t the main energy source for our bodies – carbohydrates are. If you consume too much protein and not enough carbohydrates, your body will try to transform protein into a carbohydrate-like substance, which leads to a toxic exchange and kidney damage.
The importance of supplements
Providing your body with all the necessary nutrients is essential when you switch to a vegan diet because a lot of them were contained within animal foods. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to take artificial supplements. There’s plenty of vegan-friendly foods and sources that will provide your body with everything it needs. For example, you can replenish your vitamin D by spending a lot of time in the sun. Iron can be found in legumes, dark, leafy greens, dried raisins and sunflower seeds. You can aid iron absorption by consuming foods rich in vitamin C.
With a plant-based diet, whole foods and B12 supplements, you’ll minimise the need for any additional vitamin supplements.
Changing your lifestyle might be quite challenging, so you’ll need the support of your friends. However, if your friends don’t support veganism or you simply feel lonely because they don’t understand what you’re going through, you should find vegan friends who can share this experience with you. Even if you have the full support of your friends, it’s always nice when you have someone to dine with in a vegan restaurant.
Once you go vegan, you should make sure that the foods you buy are actually appropriate for your diet. So, get ready for some serious label reading! Although some products may seem like vegan-friendly, they may contain ingredients – like food colouring, gelatine or tallow – that are actually derived from animals. If possible, you should buy your groceries at a reputable store to make sure that the foods you buy meet the vegan standards. When it comes to beauty care products, there are also vegan shops selling vegan-friendly cosmetics.
Switching to a vegan diet might be a bit difficult at first, but by making small and gradual changes, you’ll quickly get used to it. In addition, if you consume all the necessary nutrients, you won’t have to worry about your health.