Benefits of Veganism
So you’ve decided to become a vegan. Whether by choice or by dietary restraints, a vegan diet, which is low in saturated fats and high in nutrients, can certainly have many health benefits. But where do you start? Fear not, you’ve come to the right place. Starting any new diet can feel daunting so we’ve compiled a few vegan diet tips that will see you living the vegan lifestyle in no time.
Starting a Vegan Lifestyle
The first step for those transitioning to successful vegan diets is to understand the ins and outs of the diet and wider reaching lifestyle.
What can a vegan eat? The foundation of a vegan diet itself is the avoidance of all animal products and byproducts by maintaining a plant-based diet. In addition, there are a host of ways to practice veganism beyond the plate. For example, you may choose to buy leather substitutes in place of real leather because, as you know, it’s a byproduct of a cow. This commitment to eliminating animal products from your life extends beyond the food you consume.
Next, you need to find your “why” behind the diet. The “why” helps keep you on track, even when you’re faced with a juicy steak or a gallon of delicious ice cream. Need more inspiration? Here are a few great reasons to go vegan:
Going vegan has long been known as a great diet if you want to shed a few pounds. However, a slimmer waistline is only the beginning. Certainly, many people go vegan to help avoid health problems like obesity, but also strokes, type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers while still getting the nutrients your body craves. If your family history suggests that you might be prone to any of these conditions consider talking to your doctor about whether a change in your diet could help you stay healthy.
A vegan diet can also help improve blood sugar levels. By eating vitamin-rich plants, grains, nuts and seeds you’ll increase your iron and magnesium levels while lowering cholesterol and saturated fats. Veganism helps you find balance within your body.
Empathy for Animals
Adopting a vegan lifestyle and eating plant based foods means rejecting the exploitation, suffering and death of animals for food, clothing, entertainment, cosmetics, and more. In its purest form, eliminating animal products from your diet is a political and ethical stand against inhumane treatment of livestock. This includes meat, dairy, fish, shellfish, eggs and honey.
Good for the Environment
The human population has doubled since the ‘60s but meat production has quadrupled. Since 1961, pig production has increased four and a half times. Chicken manufacturing has shot up nearly 13 times. More animals mean more crops for animal feed, which puts a strain on a planet that’s already struggling to feed a booming human population.
According to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, there has been an “eight percent increase in methane from digestion in cattle and a 37 percent increase in methane via management of manure, compared to the previous estimates”. Intensive livestock farming not only contributes to global warming but also pollution, deforestation, land degradation, water scarcity and species extinction.
By choosing a vegan diet you’ll play your part in decreasing the production of meat and animal products, thereby lowering emissions.
Living a Vegan Lifestyle
Now you have a better understanding of veganism in general and have committed to your “why”, it’s time to get started.
For most of us, adopting a vegan lifestyle is a big transition. Enthusiasm is a beautiful thing but instead of diving in headfirst, give yourself time to adapt by starting slowly. Week by week, eliminate items from your diet. Perhaps on your first week you could remove dairy products. The following week, try eliminating eggs. Pace yourself.
Or why not start off by turning vegetarian and sticking to fruits and vegetables? After a few successful weeks eating a vegetarian diet start avoiding animal byproducts and eating a plant-based diet.
A sudden transition from your existing diet to a vegan diet eating only vegan products can be demanding since you’ll need to learn to create new dishes and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients and combinations. You may slip up from time to time as you expand your repertoire and knowledge so it’s easy to feel discouraged. Our advice is to take plenty of time to make that switch. Be kind to yourself!
Search for vegan-friendly recipes–there’s a wealth of inspiration out there. Bookmark a few favorite blogs full of delicious, vegan recipes. Try a gluten-free, kale, black bean, and avocado bowl from Cookie and Kate, or a mushroom quinoa burger from Good Housekeeping. These days, vegan ingredients are easy to find, and recipes more accessible and easier to follow than ever.
However, before you head out to the grocery store, educate yourself on the vegan lifestyle. Find replacements for dairy and protein, and learn the symbols for vegan-friendly items. Certain products will specify whether they fit into the vegan diet, such as plant-based protein, to make it easy to identify them.
Also, learn what items from your favorite restaurants are vegan approved. Some restaurants even have specific menu icons to help you choose vegan options.
Advice From a Pro
Our very own Kitchen Assistant, Danny Giron, has been successfully living the vegan lifestyle for eight years. His decision to become vegan was based both on the health benefits and his love for animals. We asked him what it feels like to be vegan and he told us, “My body feels a lot lighter after eating because animal fat takes longer to burn off. Eating natural, plant based products makes you feel healthier.”
You Can Do It!
Starting a vegan lifestyle can be daunting but it is possible. Remember to focus on your “why”. Instead of thinking about what you’re giving up, think about what you’re gaining.
When you become vegan, you join a community of like-minded people; a growing community at that. Veganism is gathering pace as more and more people realize the great side effects of going vegan. Look to group sites for advice, new recipes and activities. Think about the added health benefits and how you’re doing your part to help the planet and its inhabitants.