Before there were trendy diet options such as paleo, gluten-free, and keto, there was the vegan lifestyle. Donald Watson, the founder of The Vegan Society, conceived the term veganism in 1944 when he co-founded the group. Since that time, veganism has evolved into a lifestyle defined as “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose.” However you choose to embrace veganism – following a plant-based diet or endeavoring to eliminate all animal products from your home – here are some issues to consider before making such a potentially drastic diet change.
You Won’t Automatically Lose Weight
A big misconception about eliminating animal food products from your diet is the notion that weight loss is guaranteed. It isn’t. Although vegans describe the health benefits of increased energy, healthier skin and hair, and reduced incidence of diabetes and heart disease, processed foods and sugar are not off the list of things to eat. Plant-based junk food exists. Think of treats like coconut-milk ice cream, French fries, and almond-milk cold brews from specialty coffee shops. As with any eating philosophy, moderation and awareness are necessary for a healthy balance.
Be Sure to Eat Enough Protein
Protein is vital for maintaining muscle mass and keeping your metabolism high. You have to be adept at combining foods correctly in an effort to get enough complete proteins with a plant-based diet. There are nine amino acids, called essential amino acids, that the body cannot produce on its own. While complete proteins aren’t necessary at every meal of the day, it is important to know where to get them while practicing a vegan, plant-based diet. Quinoa, soy, buckwheat, and mycoprotein are all plant-based forms of complete protein. The easiest and least expensive way to create a complete protein is to combine beans, chickpeas, or lentils with rice.
Invest In a Good Multivitamin
Iron, calcium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D are nutrients that need extra attention when you switch to a plant-based diet. Iron is present in many plants, such as green leafy vegetables; however, many factors can affect its absorption but the body. Although many nut milks and cereals are fortified with calcium, few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D must be taken together for proper absorption of the calcium. Vitamin B12, found in plant-based foods, is destroyed by the sterilization process in food production. Choosing a vegan multivitamin is the wisest choice to ensure reliable amounts of these nutrients in your diet.
Many articles are written about how much less money is spent at the grocery store when adopting a plant-based diet. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. With trendy vegan brands and organic options available, it is easy to go over budget. Try buying generic versions of your favorite vegan and non-dairy products. Generic labels offer the same products for one-third to one-half the cost. Choose frozen vegetables over fresh whenever possible. Frozen vegetables are just as nutritious and won’t go bad before you are able to use them all.
Take Care to Read the Ingredients of Packaged Foods
There are several additives and ingredients in packaged foods that are animal-based and can be misleading. First and foremost, honey is not a vegan food because it is made by bees for bees. Vegan’s feel that since honey is vital to the wellbeing of the hive community, producing it for human consumption is considered “bee exploitation.” Another issue is omega 3 fatty acids, which come primarily from fish. Take caution and read labels to determine the source of the omega 3 to be certain it is vegan. Gelatin is also an animal byproduct, made from the connective tissue of animals. It is used as a thickener in sweets, such as marshmallows, candies, puddings, and cakes.
Veganism may seem trendy and limiting; but at its core, veganism’s goal is to promote wellness without harm to animals or the environment. Vegan followers hope to create a peaceful, healthy, and clean planet. Whether or not the lifestyle is for you, veganism can be woven into your weekly routine by choosing one day a week to eat plant-based foods and remove all animal protein. You never know, you may like it!