Thinking About Going Vegan? Here's a Vegan Beginner's Guide
Did you know the term "veganism" was coined less than 60 years ago?
However, it has been a cultural practice for thousands of years. It's only become a life-shift for people in recent times -- and for a good reason.
Keep reading to find out more about making the transition in this vegan beginner's guide.
What Does "Vegan" Mean?
Being vegetarian is the practice of not eating meat. Veganism is a step further, excluding all animal-based products from your diet.
This includes fish, eggs, dairy, milk, cheese, and more. Some vegans take this to the furthest extent, refraining from eating honey because it's a bee byproduct.
Additionally, veganism is often adopted as a lifestyle. Some people choose to avoid animal products all-together by staying away from leather and cruelty-free cosmetics.
The degree to which a person takes their veganism mostly depends on the reason they're doing it.
Why Go Vegan?
Aside from cultural norms, there are several reasons as to why people choose to become vegan. It typically centers around health, compassion, or environmental factors. However, it could be a combination of these things or none at all -- it can vary from person to person.
Many people refrain from eating animal byproducts in hopes to better their health.
Red meat, for example, is thought to increase your risk of getting various preventable diseases if you eat it too frequently.
On the flip side, veganism may potentially protect our bodies against diseases like cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type-2 diabetes.
Another reason people choose to go vegan is to avoid participating in the livestock industry.
It's not hard to find videos online of the dark underbelly of massive farms that raise chickens, cows, and pigs for consumption. Unless you buy from a local, organic farm, the chances are that you are buying animal products from a place that hosts animals in horrific conditions.
So, many people choose to go vegan out of compassion so that they aren't supporting an industry that treats animals poorly.
Finally, some people choose to go vegan due to the negative impacts of the livestock industry on the environment.
The production of livestock for meat and animal byproducts accounts for 14.5 percent of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions added to the atmosphere. This is more than the transportation industry alone.
Therefore, many people choose to go vegan to avoid supporting adding harmful emissions to our world. The thought is that using land for vegetables takes up less space, less water, and less harm to the planet compared to livestock.
You may resonate with some of the ideas or you may simply be curious about trying a new dietary lifestyle. Either way, keep reading to get a breakdown of how you can make the transition -- no matter what your reason is.
A Vegan Beginner's Guide
Now that you know the what and the why behind choosing a vegan diet, all that's left is to describe how you can do it. These suggestions are not definitive but help a wide variety of people making the transition, so they are worth trying.
In addition to these tips, try to learn as much as you can from various resources. Check out this vegan diet plan for additional pointers.
Think About Adding Rather Than Subtracting
Instead of focusing on what you aren't eating, focus on what you will be eating more of.
The following foods will be your sources of nutrition:
• Nuts and seeds
• Plant oils (i.e. olive oil, almond oil, et cetera)
• Fermented foods (i.e. tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, et cetera)
• Natural sweeteners
• Plant and nut yogurt, milk, and cheese
Include a variety of these foods in your day-to-day diet so that you get a well-rounded source of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. During your transition, you may also want to take a nutrition supplement to ensure your dietary needs are being met while you adjust.
Do a Little Research
Get excited about your new diet habits by researching new recipes and ideas to try out.
It's helpful to save a vegan substitution guide so that you can turn non-vegan meals into animal-free ones simply by substituting a few ingredients. That way, you aren't limited to researching vegan-only recipes.
Depending on the extent you wish to become vegan, you may also want to do research into the hidden animal ingredients in processed products. You can find a comprehensive list of common ingredients to look out for in sauces, candies, and various other products you may think are already "vegan" but aren't.
It's important to note that you don't have to go to this extent unless you want to. You can avoid the obvious animal products and still eat things like gummy candies if you so please. It's all up to you.
Prepare Ahead of Time
While you're making the transition into becoming a vegan, it's helpful to start simple and give yourself plenty of snacks throughout the day.
Start by making simple stir-fry, salad, soups, and sandwiches for your main meals. Over time, you can progress to recreating non-vegan meals with vegan substitutes.
You can also keep easy snacks handy wherever you go, like nuts and fruit, so that you stay on track and have options on hand.
Decide Where You Want to Fall On the Spectrum
By defining why and how you're making the transition, you can decide for yourself where you want to fall on the spectrum of being vegan.
This will give you an idea of what to expect and how to prepare. Even if you go off track or accidentally eat animal products (or intentionally do it every once in a while), try not to give yourself a hard time. It's not a one-day switch—it's a lifestyle transformation that will continue to develop, normalize, and become more exciting over time.
Make It Your Own
With this vegan beginner's guide, you can make a smooth transition into a new lifestyle.
Considering we are all unique people with unique bodies, how you transition into becoming a vegan is all up to you. Take tips and advice from various places and find the ways that work best for you.
Keep reading our blog for more diet and food inspiration.