Thinking of adopting a vegan lifestyle? The benefits of going vegan are plentiful, the main reason for its popularity. About 25% of American adults aged 25 to 34 years are vegetarian and about 0.4% are vegan.
Studies predict that veganism will see more followers in the near future as it goes mainstream in 2019. It’s a lifestyle change that is advantageous not only to you but to the environment as well. Transitioning into it is not an easy endeavor so read on as this article will help you in achieving your veganism goals.
What is a Vegan?
We all know that vegetarians are people who don’t eat animals. But what is a vegan and what do they eat? How is it different from a vegetarian? For people who don’t follow a vegetarian diet, this can be a bit confusing.
The term vegan was first used in 1944 by a group of vegetarians who formed The Vegan Society. It is a breakaway group from the Leicester Vegetarian Society in England. Vegan is a term that combined the first and last letters of the word vegetarian.
Simply put, vegetarians are those who don’t eat animals. The reason they choose to follow such a diet is because of many factors. Health issues, animal welfare concerns, or religious restrictions to name a few.
Although the reason for adapting to a veganism lifestyle is basically the same, being a vegan entails more than just refraining from eating animals. Vegetarians vary, while some may forgo eating eggs or seafood, veganism excludes all animal products from their diet as well as their lifestyles.
Vegans are passionate about animal welfare, so much so, that they eliminate using animal byproducts. From the food that they eat down to the clothes they wear. Products from animals such as leather and wool are ruled out of a vegan follower’s way of life.
Fabrics such as silk are also excluded as animals are harmed in the production processes. A true vegan is also one that avoids cosmetics and beauty products that are tested on animals. For vegans, cruelty-free products are indispensable.
Even seemingly commonplace items, for instance, orange juice or fruit candies are off-limits. Some of these products may contain gelatin made from animal parts. Products that are fortified with omega-3 are also avoided as these come from fish.
What Do Vegans Eat?
If you’re transitioning into a vegan lifestyle, you’d be surprised to find that a lot of the everyday food you eat contain animal byproducts. At first, it may seem like a herculean task to learn what you should and shouldn’t eat. But don’t be fazed, being a vegan doesn’t mean you’re going to eat vegetables and tofu alone all your life.
You may not know it, but there are dishes that you’re already enjoying that are already vegan. Some may need just a little tweak to become vegan. Dishes such as veggie burgers, tomato pizzas, pasta, salsa, and hummus wraps are some good examples.
For every meat dish that you can think of, there are vegan products that you can use as substitutes. Beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, seitan (wheat gluten), lentils can be used to replace meat in your favorite meals.
Milk and other dairy products can easily be replaced with plant-based milk products such as almond milk or soy milk. Tofu can be scrambled to replace scrambled eggs. Sweeteners such as molasses can be a good substitute for honey.
For those who are cooking for vegans, honey can pose a question of whether it is acceptable or not. To be on the safe side, it’s better to find other sweetening alternatives to honey. Most vegans would avoid it altogether.
In general, vegans can eat all grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Mix them up or combine one or two to whip up a good and enjoyable diet. If you don’t like the taste of tofu, you don’t have to live your life forcing yourself to like them. An infinite number of wonderful dishes can be created using these products to satisfy your cravings and give you the right nutritional value at the same time.
On the other hand, these are the foods that you should avoid when going vegan: meat, fish, shellfish, dairy, and eggs. Meat-derived ingredients should also be avoided. These are whey, lactose, albumin, pepsin, casein, carmine, shellac, gelatin, and isinglass. If you see these on the ingredients list, steer clear.
Due to its popularity, a lot of celebrities have gone vegan, thus a plethora of products have mushroomed in stores across the nation. The selection of ready-made or ready-to-eat vegan food products is growing. There isn’t much reason left for you not to adapt to veganism and more to push through with it in the long term.
How Can I Become a Vegan?
Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle is not easy. If you’re a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian trying it out for the first time, it’s not an overnight undertaking. It is an on-going process of evolution so don’t pressure yourself in becoming one in a short period of time.
Becoming vegan takes patience and a lot of planning. Know your reasons for your lifestyle change and let those be your motivation. You may be finding yourself cooking most of your meals, so learn to enjoy it.
You should learn to read labels and find ways to use substitutes. Going vegan doesn’t mean saving up on your meals, it may prove to be more expensive. Also, know that adopting a vegan lifestyle doesn’t necessarily mean losing weight. There are lots of vegan food that can make you fat, so beware.
In addition, familiarize yourself with the options available to you and where to get them. Whether cooking ingredients or ready-made meals, it pays to know where you can get them so you won’t be tempted to go back to your old diet. It’s also recommended to know which restaurants serve vegan food in case you want to eat out.
Always remember that going vegan doesn’t mean you’ll be depriving yourself. All you need is some creativity in food preparation and lots of determination. Enjoy!
Tips on Becoming a Vegan
Once you embrace the reasons for going vegan, you’ll find yourself never wanting to go back. Opening up our minds about the real effects of animals in our lives, you’ll realize that going vegan isn’t just a diet. It’s a way to live a beautiful life without harming animals. Here are some tips to get you transitioning:
Take It Slow
Go at your own pace. Take your sweet time in your transition period even if you know someone who has done it overnight. What works for one doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you.
Start by replacing one or two of your meals with a vegan one. Or remove meat from your menu for one day in a week and go on from there. There are many ways to approach it, find the one that will suit you the best.
Keep a Positive Attitude
Instead of thinking about the food you’ll miss, think about the new and delicious ones you’re going to try. There are vegan hotdogs, mayonnaise, burgers, even cheese. And the internet abounds with vegan recipes that you can try, that curry dish with coconut oil suddenly looks scrumptious.
Don’t worry about the changes, be excited about making them.
Try New Foods
Never be afraid to try something new. Even if you’re not going vegan, discovering a new recipe can be exciting. Vegan food alternatives can be found everywhere, try them out without hesitation and find your favorites.
Getting out of your comfort zone when it comes to food is easy. And you don’t also have to worry about getting the right amount of protein and other nutrients. There are substitutes for literally about every food product there is, even eggs, so you won’t be depriving yourself.
The secret to long term veganism is to keep learning. Veganism has been around since 1944 and it’s still a new concept for almost everyone. And of course, no one can tell you which ones will work for you except yourself.
Know which products work best for you, what restaurant to go to, then pick a favorite. But don’t forget to explore your options. Always think of this as a journey to be enjoyed.
Ask for Help
Find a support group that can help you and you can help back. It may be that not everyone around you is vegan so it can be a lonely path you’re taking. Look for them in your neighborhood or search online to find a group that you can join.
When you feel discouraged, they can help you get back on track. And you can do the same for someone.
Diet is More Important Than You Think
As mentioned earlier, not all vegans are slim as a vegan diet doesn’t equate to being fit. Getting control of your life is what dieting is all about, the same goes for transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Take everything in moderation and follow a diet that will make you look and feel healthy.