Even after you’ve made the decision to become a vegan, getting started can be a daunting task. After all, veganism typically requires a complete change in your lifestyle – making a much larger adjustment than the common diet. So, how can you do it successfully? Here are a few basic steps to get you moving on your new vegan path.
As mentioned, becoming a vegan is a much bigger shift than cutting carbs or watching your cholesterol – you will be overhauling your entire approach to food. It’s important, than, that you not feel like you have to become 100 percent vegan overnight.
You could try going vegan just one day each week and building from there. Or you could remove all animal products from just one meal every day – switch over to a vegan breakfast, for example. You could also think in terms of individual products and focus on finding vegan alternatives one at a time. If you usually use milk, for example, try out almond milk or other vegan options until you find one you like. And continue the gradual switch with other foods that you frequently enjoy.
Don’t Assume It’s Healthy
Whatever your reasons are for becoming vegan, do not assume that the diet is automatically healthier than the standard omnivorous approach. Vegans have access to just as much calorie-rich, nutrient-poor junk food as everyone else.
According to Reader’s Digest, many people who claim to be vegan really survive on a starch-heavy diet and get very little in the way of fruits and vegetables. Don’t do that.
In fact, because veganism is restricted to plant-based foods, it is possible for you to miss out on several vital nutrients if you aren’t careful. Make sure you get a variety of foods and consider taking supplements. Vegans specifically have trouble getting adequate levels of vitamin B12, which can cause a host of frightening health problems, and generally need to either take a supplement or buy enriched foods.
Protein is also a common concern for vegans and vegetarians alike, especially for the athletes among them. Again, eating a variety of foods will give you plenty of the macro and will make sure that your body has all of the essential amino acids that it can’t make on it’s own. Alternatively, protein powders and meal replacements like Gnarly Vegan can be useful tools to have available for fast, convenient meals. When picking a product, remember that protein powders are generally just that – protein. While meal replacements offer a more balanced nutritional profile and typically contain many vitamins and minerals in addition to the macros.
As with any lifestyle change, it’s important to have support when you’re just starting out as a fresh, young vegan. Find others who have successfully made the switch and ask them about their experience. You might even join an online community for support and guidance on your quest to eliminate animal products from your diet.