An increasing amount of people are making the change to a vegan diet. Some of you make the change from omnivore to vegan overnight, whilst others decide to do it gradually and slowly. Doing it under your own steam and not overthinking the process, is the best way to go. Certainly, don’t put yourself under pressure from those who are already living a vegan lifestyle.
The transition maybe made for health reasons, a dislike (even hatred) of the exploitation of animals, or even climate change, minimising the carbon footprint and caring for the earth. Whatever your reasons if it’s right for you then do it.
Before adjusting your normal diet, it is often best to check out your health. Food sensitivity is more frequent these days, so it is advisable to take a test such as this.
What is a vegan diet?
Being a vegan is not just about eating fruit and vegetables – that would probably affect you long term, as plants such as vegetables do not necessarily contain all the nutrition you need. You must remember that whole grains, nuts and seeds are all an integral part of veganism. It’s strange, but a lot of people don’t think of these being included! Others think that a diet free from meat and other goods derived from animals, isn’t normal, and that animals were put on earth to be eaten as part of the human food chain.
However, attitudes are rapidly changing. In 2020/21 the head count of vegans was 1.5m people, equivalent to almost 3% of the UK population. Two years prior, it was almost half of that number. The vegan food market is also expanding, with everything from a larger selection of imported fruit and vegetables to vegan pizzas and even Bounty bars! The Vegan Society predict that there will be an even greater upwards surge towards veganism in 2023.
Tips for ‘going vegan’
Bearing in mind that any changes you make in your diet, can have an effect on your stomach and other organs, so this is why we say take a gradual approach. Some suggestions of changing slowly and not giving up after the first or second day, does depend on the approach you take to veganism. Here are some ideas.
- Take a look around your kitchen. Make sure you have some basic equipment you can use to prepare interesting vegan foods. We recommend a blender, chopper maybe even a cheap mixer. Also useful are spiralisers, graters and sharp knives! Some of the harder vegetables need a bit of work!
- Fill your store cupboard with dried foods, herbs and spices, all those that you like (vegan that is). Also store tinned goods such as a selection of beans, pulses, dried fruits, nuts and seeds so that you don’t knee jerk about what you eat and when.
- Whatever you eat, make your food look interesting. If it looks bland to you, it will probably taste bland, and this will put you off eating. Adding spices and herbs to foods when cooking, will create a good aroma in the kitchen and would therefore get your tastebuds working. A curry is a curry, with or without meat. Have a really good think about the tastes you really like and use those.
- Speak to your friends that are vegan but don’t preach about it to you. Ask their advice on good restaurants and try them out or check their menus. Then go and check one or two out. Order flavours that you like to encourage your appetite. (Instead of burgers made with meat, try a jackfruit burger, it’s a great compromise with a meaty texture.)
- Make or buy some vegan snacks. Some people say that when they started a vegan diet, they were incredibly hungry 24/7. Carry some with you whenever you go out and it will stop you picking up something that doesn’t follow the diet.
- In the initial stages, try not to socialise over a meal where most of your friends are omnivores. It’s like giving up alcohol and everyone around you is drinking, so you may well lapse into ‘going with the majority’.
- If you go to a dinner party or similar, do tell your host in advance that you are vegan, rather than get there and find there is no vegan food. Once again, temptation will be there, but you may find yourself starving and tempted to grab a kebab or some fried chicken on the way home.
- Buy yourself some vegan cookbooks and get involved with them straight away. Test some recipes out, and add or change according to your tastes, not necessarily the author’s!
- Try to plan your meals, at least for the first few weeks whilst making the transition. Only make that full transition when you are really ready to.
- Do put some effort into understanding veganism. Read blogs or articles, just wrap yourself up in the transition and you may well find that it happens almost without knowing.
Potential Side Effects
There are a few potential side effects that could make your transition tricky:
- Low energy - are you eating enough, getting adequate sleep, stressed? These can be pitfalls but try upping your calorie intake, it could be too low.
- Weight loss/gain - quite common. Weight loss again could be the result of lack of calories if you aren’t eating enough. Weight gain could be because you are buying to many pre-packaged high carb foods as opposed to making the effort of cooking fresh.
- Hungry all the time? Try eating more fibre-rich foods and some complex carbs to fill you up. Do search for vegan meal plans, they can be very helpful with nutritional values.
- Food cravings – totally natural, just be mindful, the cravings will go away eventually.
- Stomach issues, as mentioned before. You can either consult a doctor immediately or take a test to see if it is food that is causing the problem or perhaps a deficiency due to the new diet. Vegans can become deficient in protein, due to the lack of meat, another good reason to work on the balance of your meals.
Who knows, you may find it easy – the days of ‘boring vegan food’ have long since passed with a vast array of vegan foods available to you in restaurants and shops. If you do notice any kind of health problems that arise during your transition, it’s best to have a word with your doctor. There is always the possibility of becoming vitamin deficient, but if you work on it logically, there is no reason for this to occur.