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Ten things you need to know before you shift to a vegan diet

Sep 25, 2019

Transition to a vegan diet is easier if you have a group, community, or friends who are vegan, the transition is smoother and easier, writes Kuntal Joisher.

New Delhi: Many people are trying out many different things in these times, but one trend that is catching on fast is veganism. More and more people are choosing the vegan lifestyle as they are becoming aware of their surroundings and are choosing to opt for humanitarian and humane dietary options. We live in a world with so many options, and once you realise you can live a life without consuming animal products, you take a step towards a ‘better future’.

There are many people in today’s time who have taken the first step towards a better, more humane world, but are forced back into old habits because they are not prepared for all the different things that veganism brings with itself.

To help out all those who want to shift to a cruelty-free, sustainable and healthier lifestyle, here are a few things that everyone should know before shifting to a vegan diet.

Make the shift gradual

Some people might be okay with going cold-turkey, but many find it helpful to ease into a new lifestyle. Don't be hasty, and start out slow by replacing dairy and meat with vegan alternatives. Start by adding more plant-based foods to your diet, while at the same time cutting back on animal products, especially those that are non-organic, and more importantly processed, refined foods. Making gradual changes and assessing how you are feeling along the way is key.

There are many vegan replacements for meat and milk

There’s Good Dot pre-cooked Vegan meat available across India, and the Nutrela soya chunks that are available at almost every grocery store. Paneer can be easily replaced with tofu and cow/buffalo milk with soy, almond, cashew or coconut milk as it is readily available at most grocers. These would be great stopgap arrangements as you transition to a diet filled with more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains, combined with the occasional servings of vegan dairy and meat alternatives. If you look, you will find a lot of vegan alternatives that will constitute for a healthy, cruelty free, and exciting meal.

Having a cheat day is okay

Be loving and kind to yourself. If you haven’t reached your goals yet or feel like you’re not doing things perfectly, don’t beat yourself up. Keep your dreams and visions in mind and work towards them, but accept where you are right now and take it step by step. When you are in a hurry, or don’t have many options, you can go ahead and have some non-vegan food. The key of the whole exercise is to focus and stay committed to the path of transitioning to the vegan lifestyle. You will find success after failure, and falling off the wagon is not a sign that you are not strong enough.

You need a support system

Many people try to make the transition into the world of veganism alone, but if you have a group, community, or friends who are vegan, the transition is smoother and easier. Find other vegans in your area and meet with them, attend some potlucks, learn recipes from them. This will help you transition into a cruelty-free lifestyle.

You can find enough proteins outside of dairy

Certain foods like soy, buckwheat, etcetera contain all nine essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts, that helps your body creates a “pool” of amino acids from the food you eat throughout the day. So, if you eat oats in the morning, a salad at lunch, and legumes for dinner, your body will pool together all the essential amino acids from these foods and use them as needed to make proteins. As long as you are eating an assortment of plant foods over the course of a day, your body will take care of your protein intake.

Be ready to notice some changes in your bowel movements

Don’t be alarmed if you notice some changes in your routine. Dietary fiber, which is found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, is most often associated with the prevention and relief of constipation. Fiber includes the parts of plant foods that your body can’t digest and is made of carbohydrates that the body can’t absorb. Fiber also helps you maintain a healthy weight and lowers the risk of heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. Consequently, eating whole grains is an excellent way to treat chronic constipation.

A vegan diet can help you cut down the fat content

Moderate to intense training requires both carbohydrates and fat for fuel. Hormones and other

molecules produced from fat are important for maintaining the balance of the biochemical reactions that drive life. However, we usually consume too much fat per day. This can be remedied by choosing healthy fat options such as nuts like almonds or walnuts, or seeds like sesame, sabja, flax, or sometimes even pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

Be prepared to read food labels

If you're serious about being vegan, checking food labels and verifying ingredients is a must. Just because a food product is not glaringly non-vegan doesn't mean that it's suitable for a vegan diet. Casein and whey, which come from milk, are present in many cereal bars, breads, and granolas; while gelatin and tallow are derived from meat. Read the labels carefully before consuming.

You’ll have to change the quantity of food you consume

Eat a lot of food. This is something you will have to get accustomed to. You will have to increase your quantities when switching over to a plant-based diet, since it’s less calorically dense. This is true especially when you focus on whole foods. So, load up on baked potatoes, quinoa, beans, salad and fresh fruit. Eat to your heart’s content and never deprive yourself.

There will be a lot of temptations

When you’re on the move, there are most likely going to be stimulants and temptations in the form of animal-based and processed foods around you. In that case, it’s really crucial to be prepared by either having a full stomach or some kind of snacks on hand. Bring along your favorite fruits, nuts, bars, and energy balls for a snack. But there’s surely nothing easier than carrying along a few bananas or apples whenever you’re going somewhere where you are not sure if you’ll get vegan food items.

Veganism is not only a diet change, it is a lifestyle change that can affect everything around you, from your physique to your relationships, and you need to be ready for whatever comes your way. It is very easy to fall into temptation and give into cravings, but veganism is a lifestyle that will benefit you and everything around you in the long run. From your health to a better quality of life for animals, as well as a smaller carbon footprint in the world--veganism is the correct choice for this world, and it’s time we made an educated and informed choice to change for the better.

About Kuntal Joisher - Kuntal Joisher is a dedicated animal activist and mountaineer. Joisher became the first person to climb Mount Everest on a vegan diet in 2016. The views expressed here are of author's.

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