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5 Things to Know About Going Vegan


What with 'Veganuary' taking the world by storm and practically every supermarket bringing out a brand new range of vegan food, it sometimes seems like there isn’t a single meat eater left in the world. There no doubt going that this drastic increase in veganism is a great thing; the greenhouse gases produced from animal agriculture account for over half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, as well as consuming a staggering 70% of the world’s freshwater. As a diet that doesn’t contain meat or dairy, Veganism can also be enormously beneficial to health is a lot less likely to have high levels of saturated fat, in addition to being higher in vitamin C and fibre. There are, however, some risks with cutting out entire food groups, namely the risk of missing out on essential micronutrients such as iron and vitamin B12. For this reason, it's essential to be properly educated before making this lifestyle change, or you may be at risk of causing significant damage to yourself.

Know why you’re doing it

With constant celebrity endorsement and advertising, it can be easily to be swept away with the vegan movement without knowing exactly why you’re doing it. There are several reasons why you might choose to make this change, from caring about environmental issues to aiming to improve your health, but if you don’t know why you’re doing it, you’ll struggle keeping to the lifestyle change.

Take it slowly

Going from eating red meat every day to a completely plant-based diet can seem like a shock and may not be realistic for everyone. If you struggle getting through just one day completely plant-based, you may want to consider making small changes to your diet first to ease yourself in. For example, you could swap to non-dairy milk alternatives, reducing your animal intake to just poultry or fish or making sure you have one vegan meal a day. Just because ‘veganuary’ insist you should suddenly go vegan overnight for a month, it doesn’t mean you have to; going vegan is not a competition, but an individual lifestyle choice.

Make sure you have a balanced diet

Meat and other animal products are high sources of protein; removing these from your diet without supplementing your protein intake may result in a deficiency. Luckily there are loads of brilliant plant-based protein sources including quinoa, tofu, pulses and beans and vegetables, to name but a few, meaning it’s not difficult to reach your daily protein intake goal. Moreover, just because your diet is vegan it doesn’t necessairly mean its healthy - eating solely crisps would be considered vegan, but is obviously not healthy. Focus on vegetables then add in sources of carbohydrates and protein to make sure your plate is as colourful as possible.

Avoid vitamin deficiency

As the only vitamin not recognised as being available from a plant-based source, a vegan diet may result in a vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin, which is produced in the digestive system of cattle, as well as in fish, poultry and eggs, helps keep the nerve and blood cells healthy, as well as being important in making DNA and is thus essential for any diet. Vegans can find this vitamin in fortified foods, such as some plant milks, some soy products and some breakfast cereals, however, it is recommended that to obtain a healthy amount, you should consume these foods two or three times a day. If this seems unachievable, you can do what many vegans do and take supplements, either daily or weekly, to help you achieve the 2000 microgram weekly goal.  

Try new foods

Eliminating foods from your diet may seem restrictive, but see it as an excuse to test out new foods you wouldn't normally consider. There are tonnes of vegan recipes from every cuisine, as well as whole aisles of potential foods in supermarkets, meaning a vegan diet never has to be boring. With the increase in veganism has also come a flux of excellent new vegan restaurants catering entirely to your plant based needs, so eating out need not be avoided.

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