Considering Veganism? 7 Helpful Tips and Tricks For Becoming a Vegan
A large dietary change of any kind can be stressful, especially when it includes eliminating a large group of foods. For many, the transition to becoming a vegan is not an easy one, simply because once all animal products have been eliminated from the diet, so many people are left with the question “what can vegans eat”? So, now that we’re in the swing of Veganuary, we thought what better way to get started than with a quick guide to becoming vegan!
How to Become a Vegan
- Add Before You Subtract
- Make a Slow Transition (From Omnivore, to Vegetarian, to Vegan)
- Do Your Research
- Consider Supplementation
- Variety is Key
- Take Advantage of Whole Foods (Don’t Be a Bad Vegan)
- Always Prepare Ahead of Time
Should you jump right in or transition slowly?
One of the most common arguments regarding the start of a vegan diet is whether it’s better to transition slowly, or jump in head first. There is reasoning for both approaches, and our answer is simple – it depends on the person. If you find dietary changes difficult and have had issues sticking to them in the past, then easing into the vegan diet will likely be your best option. This way, you can become accustomed to the changes over time, and it won’t feel like such an overwhelming process. On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who likes to charge the mountain head-on, then there’s no stopping you from transitioning quicker. In both cases, the key to success is paying attention to how you feel throughout the transition and adjusting your diet (and your approach) accordingly. So, without any further ado, here are a few of our best tips to start a vegan diet!
Tips for Becoming Vegan
Add Before You Subtract
Adding foods before you subtract them from your diet is a great way to ease into any dietary transition, especially when there is a large change to be made. All you need to do is look at what you’re currently eating and compare it to what the vegan diet includes. Are there foods in the vegan diet you’ve never tried or don’t know how to cook? Are there foods that you’re unfamiliar with? Taking a moment to compare the two diets is a good way to determine any changes that will need to happen. Once you’ve discovered any differences, start by adding the vegan foods to your current diet. This way you can learn what you like, what you don’t like, how to use new ingredients, how to cook them, etc.
Then, once you’re comfortable with the additions, start subtracting non-vegan foods from your diet. It’s at this point where you’ll have to decide whether you want to take everything out all at once, or one food group at a time (ex. dairy first, then meats, etc.). While the process of addition before subtraction takes a little longer, it gives you a larger adjustment period so that you aren’t left wondering what you can or can’t eat. Not only does this increase the likelihood of sticking to the diet long-term, it also makes the transition much less stressful because it gives the appearance of a less restrictive change.
Make a Slow Transition (From Omnivore, to Vegetarian, to Vegan)
For those of you who aren’t excited about making a large dietary change all at once, one of the easiest ways to become vegan is to make a slow transition into veganism. You could start by becoming a pescatarian (vegetarian that includes dairy, eggs, fish, and seafood). Next, you could transition into being a vegetarian (someone who doesn’t consume meat from animals but may include dairy and egg products). Finally, the next step would be transitioning to veganism, where you would then eliminate the dairy and egg products from your diet as well. This transitional approach may yet again feel less restrictive, making the dietary change seem less overwhelming.
Do Your Research
When making any major changes to your diet, it’s extremely important to do your research, for multiple reasons! The first of which being that you need to understand what you can eat so you can plan accordingly. What will your proteins be? How about your healthy fats? Where will you look to get specific nutrients? You should understand the answers to these questions so that you can ensure you will be taking in the nutrients your body needs. The second reason to do your research, is that certain diets do come with increased risk factors for certain health conditions, while others are contraindicated for people with certain illnesses. So, understanding the purpose of the diet, who the diet is best for, and warning signs to look for is a great way to protect yourself from dietary blunders. Last but not least, if you aren’t sure if a diet is right for you, the best way to find out is to speak with a professional, for example, a dietician or nutritionist with experience in that area.
As mentioned, certain diets come with certain risks. The main one for veganism being vitamin B12 deficiency, as our main sources of B12 are animal products. Other deficiencies to be aware of are iron, calcium, and omega-3’s, but these can be found in plant-based sources such as pulses, beans, lentils, leafy greens, and oils (ex. flaxseed). As it so happens, Aarja Health has fantastic vegan supplement options for both vitamin B12 and calcium, so you can stock up whenever you decide to make the change! Adhering to a diet properly and doing your research beforehand can make sure deficiencies don’t happen, and if you’re unsure, it’s always best to speak with a professional!
Variety is Key
In any diet, variety is absolutely crucial. Why? Because a diet with a large range of foods provides the greatest variety of nutrients in varying levels. This way, you’re likely to have all your bases covered when it comes to nutrient (and micronutrient) intake. In the vegan diet, a good way to ensure variety is to “eat the rainbow”, meaning that you should try to eat a variety of plant-based foods in a broad range of colors (greens, yellows, oranges, purples, etc.).
Take Advantage of Whole Foods (Don’t Be a Bad Vegan)
There’s veganism – a plant-based diet of whole foods – and then there’s bad veganism – a plant-based diet full of vegan (but highly processed) junk foods. For example, some potato chips, granola bars, popcorn, and frozen fake meats are vegan options, but if the diet is filled with these types of foods there surely won’t be any health benefits long term. So, as you make the change into veganism, focus on nutrient-dense, whole, unprocessed foods. This way you’re reaping the full health benefits of plant-based eating.
Always Prepare Ahead of Time
Finally, make preparation your friend! When any change to the diet is made, it can become difficult to know what to eat at a moments notice. For example, if you’re having a busy day at the office and need a quick snack, you might not have a go-to immediately in mind. This can make the change stressful and impede the diet’s success long term, which is likely the opposite of what you’d like to achieve. Instead, plan ahead – make a shopping list, prepare for the unexpected, and keep a few ‘in case of emergency’ foods on hand so you will never be left wondering what to eat!
Dietary changes can be difficult, but with proper research, good preparation, and a few helpful hints to help you along the way, the process can be much easier! If you’d like to learn more about Veganuary or the benefits of becoming a vegan, check out our last blog post “When Meat-Eaters Turn Vegan: An Introduction to Veganism in Veganuary” . Of course, if you’re ready to join us for Veganuary, then now is a great time to stock up on our Vegan Collection for a worry-free journey into veganism.