In this day and age, plant based diets have picked up a lot of attention. Whether the motivation be weight loss or animal welfare, there's no denying that veganism has a large appeal.
A vegan diet is one that eliminates all animal products and animal derived substances. While this may seem rather invasive in a western diet that is so heavily dependent upon animal products, a vegan diet is really not that hard to follow and provides many long-term benefits.
1) Vegan Protein Sources
First things first, one question many people have about a vegan diet is "how will I get enough protein." In our culture we often only think of protein sources as meat or animal products. Which, yes- you can get a much larger source of protein from animal based products than most plant based products, but that doesn't mean it is impossible to get enough protein while on a vegan based diet.
These days especially, there are plenty of vegan meat substitutes that provide exceptional macronutrients. If you are struggling to find which products have a solid amount of protein, perhaps try some of our personal favorites:
- Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage= P: 23g F: 12g C: 12g
- Beyond Meat Beef Feisty Crumbles= P: 13g F: 3g C: 1g
- Tofu= P: 9g F: 4g C: 3g
- Lightlife Smart Ground= P: 11g F: 0g C: 6g
- Lentils= P: 14g F: 0.8g C: 40g (+ 16g of fiber)
2. You Will Be Getting A Lot Of Fiber In Your Diet
While getting a lot of fiber in your diet is traditionally a good thing, there are a few adjustments that your body will go through with a fiber rich diet. If you are not used to a fiber rich diet, you may notice some bloating right off the bat. However, once your body adjusts to a higher fiber diet, you will be just fine. Overall, fiber is extremely beneficial for your digestive system. Getting enough fiber in your diet helps keep your digestive system on track, lowers cholesterol, helps normalize blood sugar levels, and provides a variety of other benefits.
A vegan diet traditionally is higher in fiber because fruits, vegetables, and whole grains carry much more fiber than animal products such as milk, yogurt, or meat.
3. Don't Assume All Vegan Food Products Are Healthy
As with all diets, there tends to be a misconsumption that just because something follows a particular guideline then it is by default, healthy. This is simply not true and can be extremely misleading for many people who start a diet in hopes of losing weight or changing their lifestyle. Just because a product does not contain any form of animal products, does not mean that it doesn't contain an absurd amount of sugar, fat, and calories. It is really important to still follow a whole foods based diet even when eating vegan. The best whole food vegan options will be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. To further this point, check out the nutrition information on these vegan items vs non-vegan items.
Vegan: Earth Balance Vegan Mac & Cheese= 260 calories (P: 8g F: 2.5g C: 51g)
Non-Vegan: Kraft Mac & Cheese= 250 calories (P: 9g F: 3g C: 47g)
4. Make Sure You Are Getting Enough B-12, Omega-3, & Iron
One concern may be that you are not getting the appropriate amount of B-12, Omega-3, and Iron in from your diet. All three of these are traditionally found in some form of animal products. All three of these are important for a healthy functioning body.
B-12 is a vitamin that helps transform food into energy in our bodies and aids in brain function. B-12 can be found in certain plant-based milk and some soy products, but is most accessible through vegan B-12 supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids- EPA and DHA are found in fish, whereas ALA can be found in plant sources. Omega-3 can be tricky to supplement on but there are vegan supplements that have EPA and DHA in them. Lastly, iron is important because it is a component of hemoglobin, which is a substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Iron can be found in legumes, lentils, soybeans, tofu, and a variety of other plant based foods.
5. Cooking May Take A Little Longer
Any changes to your diet may make the traditional staple meals you create a bit more difficult. Switching to a vegan diet provides its challenges with meal prepping when things like quinoa, lentils, and unfamiliar protein sources are being cooked. It may also be difficult the first couple of times in the grocery store, trying to figure out what products are vegan and if you even like those products! Do not be discouraged, with time you will expand your palate and become much more familiar with what products are and aren't vegan. You may even find some new favorite foods!
If you are worried about the cooking that goes behind a vegan diet and would like to test out vegan meals that you don't have to prepare, check out a vegan meal delivery service such as Trifecta.