5 Things To Know When Starting A Vegan Diet08.07.22
Whether you’re choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle, or you want to implement more plant-based foods into your diet, it can have massive benefits on your health. Choosing to eat more vegetables is something that we all should be doing to improve our wellbeing.
Yet, making the change to a plant-based diet can be overwhelming, so we’ve provided you with some tips on how to navigate it. If you’re thinking of making some changes to the way you eat, here are five things you should know when starting a vegan diet:
1. Planning is essential
Although adopting a vegan diet has a number of health benefits, there can be some drawbacks, many of which include deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals that are primarily found in animal based products.
Some common vitamin deficiencies found in a vegan diet include vitamin B12, vitamin D, Omega 3 and Iron. As a result, it’s essential that you plan your meals to ensure you’re getting enough of each of these items. These days, a lot of cereals and milk alternatives are fortified with vitamins and minerals, making it possible to get your nutrients from more foods. However, you might have to consider using supplements to get the required daily amount. Make sure you discuss with a medical professional before including supplements.
2. Make vegetables the star of the show
Commonly in the UK we tend to make meat the most prominent part of the meal, building all other foods and flavours around it. Vegetables are set aside as an afterthought. If you’re adopting a vegan diet then it’s time for vegetables to take centre stage.
Get creative with your food. Start following your favourite vegetarian and plant based chefs on instagram for inspiration. Buy vegan cookbooks or find vegan specific restaurants and try to recreate their meals at home. There are hundreds, if not thousands of vegetables out there, so start adding some colour to your plate.
3. Include a variety of plant based proteins
It is more than possible to eat enough protein on a plant based diet – you just need to be more strategic about what you’re including in your meals. Animal based products such as meat are complete proteins, this means that they have all 9 essential amino acids in them. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and help repair and grow muscles, as well as keeping your hair and nails healthy. They keep many systems in our body running smoothly.
Plant products may have protein, but don’t consist of all the essential amino acids, leucine in particular. This means that you need to get creative with your protein sources and combine foods that will give you all 9 amino acids in total. High protein plant based foods include:
- Nutritional yeast
- Beans and pulses
4. Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s healthy
One of the biggest assumptions about a vegan diet is that it’s healthier than other diets, however this isn’t the case. Just because a cake is vegan, it doesn’t make it any healthier than its non-vegan counterpart. It might still be jammed packed with sugar and high fat ingredients.
This is also the same for vegan burgers and meat substitutes. Of course it’s okay to include items such as these in your diet, not everything has to be unprocessed and sugar free. But, the majority of your calories should come from fruit, vegetables and grains if you want to adopt a healthy diet.
5. You need variety
Regardless of whether you’re choosing to adopt a vegan lifestyle or not, everyone needs variety in order to eat a healthy diet. A balanced plate includes protein, healthy fats, a variety of fruit and vegetables and grains, as well as the occasional treat.
It can be easy to eat the same meals over and over again, especially if you’re new to the lifestyle and sticking to what you know. But it’s time to be adventurous, try new foods and flavours. Not only does this mean you’ll be filling your body with a range of nutrients, but it will also stop you from getting bored and when boredom sets in, this is usually when people tend to make poor food choices.
Remember, food is a big part of life and it shouldn’t feel like you’re punishing yourself when you eat. If you’re struggling to do it alone, you can use vegan meal prep from KBK to take the fuss out of planning and simply just enjoy good food.
by Eryn Barber
Eryn is a content writer who specialises in health and fitness articles. When she’s not writing, Eryn is helping people improve their strength and overall health as a Personal Trainer and is currently undertaking her Msc in Strength & Conditioning. You’ll usually find Eryn out on the trails running when she isn’t working.