The vegan lifestyle can sound extreme to people who are not familiar with it. After all, it involves cutting out so many different foods and products. However, many people are surprisingly close to being vegan already, without even realizing it. Sometimes, all it takes is a few more steps to fully commit to a plant-based diet and the vegan lifestyle.
One of the issues people have when switching to a vegan diet is a lack of knowledge about the different types of plant-based foods available to them. This results in repeating meals, losing out on important nutrients, reaching for foods high in fat and sugar, and potentially giving up in frustration.
However, people who already incorporate lots of vegetables and fruits in their meals are one step ahead and probably well-positioned to build creative eating plans.
Another perk? Studies show that a variable diet is not only healthier but may also lower the risk of cognitive decline.
Many people choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle because of the treatment of animals in food industries. Conscientious buyers who avoid foods like veal or lamb are pretty close to veganism already.
One of the ways that people begin their journey toward veganism is by simply eliminating one food at a time. In this case, continue eliminating foods that seem unethical and the vegan lifestyle—or at least a more sustainable diet—might be right around the corner.
Dairy products are a huge sticking point for many people trying to shift away from animal-based foods. Cheeses, yogurts, and milk are such staples that it can be hard to move away. However, plenty of people who eat animal-based foods have already swapped over to coconut, cashew, and other nut milks for taste or intolerance reasons.
Milk alternatives like cashew can be full of protein, vitamin D, and vitamin E, and might be fortified with other essentials, too. People who already incorporate nut milk into their diets are well on their way to veganism.
Protein has an inherent ability to make us feel "full." Meats have plenty of protein, so the effect is extremely noticeable. This is one of the reasons that many people do not feel satisfied after eating a vegan meal: it can be an adjustment for these individuals to suddenly stop experiencing this sensation.
However, some people do not need meat to feel full. Plus, plenty of plant-based foods are bursting with protein and can satisfy our stomachs. Vegans also often augment their meals with whole grains, which tend to be quite filling.
Because vegans do not eat animal-based products, they must get certain nutrients from other sources. Usually, this means a highly varied diet full of whole grains like oats and quinoa.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that at least half of all grains in a diet be whole grains. Unfortunately, most people do not get close to that amount. Suddenly adding in tons of whole grains to meet nutrient needs can be a shock to aspiring vegans. People who already keep some brown rice or other less-processed options in their pantry will have an easier time.
Going vegan means paying added attention to the body's nutritional needs. While everyone should be keeping track of what nutrients they need, many people don’t bother.
Vegans understand that they are losing out on easy sources of important vitamins and minerals and thus tend to keep better track of their diets. For example, vitamin B12 is an extremely important nutrient that helps create red blood cells and DNA, among other functions. This vitamin is plentiful in animal-based products but rarer in plant-based options.
People who have already done the research or who think about their nutrition for other reasons like allergies or fitness will have an easier time keeping track of factors like their vitamin B12 levels.
There is no easy answer to how much water a person should drink in a day. Weight, activity level, and diet all impact how much we need.
Vegans require even more water than the average person because vegan diets are rich in fiber. The nutrient promotes healthy bowel movements and prevents disease, but it needs plenty of moisture for proper digestion, otherwise, it can lead to constipation and bloating.
Folks who are already in the habit of drinking plenty of water will have little to no trouble with this factor.
Switching to a vegan diet has a certain learning curve. Picky eaters who cannot eat more than a select few foods will have a much more difficult time than people who are willing to experiment with their diets.
Not only is picky eating a potential health risk, but it also limits access to some truly incredible flavors. To people who have only eaten meat their whole lives, the idea of cauliflower “meat”balls in turmeric coconut sauce might seem strange. However, those willing to take the leap into new flavors are sure to delight their taste buds, and it’s much easier to stick to an interesting diet than a bland one of just daily rice and beans.
We are social creatures and we inherently want to fit in with those around us. Peer pressure can be a strong force in a person's life. After all, it can feel strange to be the only person ordering a salad when everyone else is getting steaks and burgers.
Having friends who are fully vegan or are comfortable with eating at places with good vegan options can make the transition much easier.
The biggest part of transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is considering it. People who are not ready to commit to veganism likely have not given the idea much thought. Legitimately considering veganism is the first step toward actually taking the plunge and is often the initial sign that a person is ready.
Some people choose to switch to veganism for animal advocacy or environmental reasons, and others are drawn to the potential for a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of the reason, transitioning to veganism has many benefits and it all starts with a little consideration.