How to Slay Your Veganism Goals
Achieve Your #Veganuary Goals This January and Beyond, Without Getting Overwhelmed
Has Veganuary inspired you to try a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle? Or maybe you were already on the vegan train, and are looking for fresh ideas to keep you on board?
A vegan diet excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey.
The decision to incorporate vegan ideals into your lifestyle can be a big and difficult one, but it can also bring about numerous benefits for both your personal health and the health of the planet.
If you're considering making the switch to a vegan diet, you may be wondering where to start.
The idea of completely eliminating animal products from your diet does not need to be overwhelming. Here are 8 tips for going vegan that can help you keep your sanity for the sake of veganity!
1. Get Familiar with your Food
One of the first steps in transitioning to a vegan diet is to familiarize yourself with the types of foods that are suitable for a vegan diet.
Knowing what you will be eating and why you will be eating is essential for success.
A vegan diet typically consists of a variety of whole grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruit. These types of foods provide a good source of essential nutrients, protein, and fiber.
In addition to these staples, it's also important to include a variety of fortified foods, such as fortified plant-based milk, to ensure you are getting all of the nutrients your body needs.
A real challenge a new vegan can face, surprisingly, is overdoing it!
Eating all fruit and veggies with no beans or fortified plant-based foods (or even pre-packaged vegan meals) does not provide people with the necessary nutrients they need to thrive on a vegan diet.
While nutritional needs vary, most people would probably feel really hungry - or even hangry - after a few days of getting mostly carbohydrates, fiber, and vitamins.
Want a breakdown of what you should be asking yourself about your diet and nutritional needs? Visit Vegan Society’s meal planning page for a checklist for your vegan meal plan.
Want to know what a vegan plate should look like? Check out Well + Good’s article about vegan macronutrients on a balanced plate.
2. Prepare and Plan
It is important to plan ahead and be prepared when it comes to incorporating a vegan diet into your lifestyle. This means making sure you have a good supply of vegan-friendly foods on hand at all times, as well as knowing what to order when eating out.
One thing most vegan lifestyle influencers and advocates suggest is that the best way to transition to veganism is to add to your diet before you take food out of it.
One common strategy for easing into a vegan diet is to start by incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet and gradually reducing your intake of animal products. This can be a good way to get used to the types of foods that are staples of a vegan diet, such as beans, legumes, whole grains, and vegetables, without feeling like you're making too drastic of a change.
For example, you might try experimenting with new recipes featuring plant-based proteins like tofu or tempeh, or try incorporating more vegetables into your meals in creative ways.
Another way to incorporate vegan ideals into your daily life is through meal prepping. Meal prep, or preparing meals in advance, can have many of the same environmental benefits as going vegan.
Meal prepping can reduce food waste, ensuring people only purchase and cook the food that they need for that week.
It can also reduce the use of single-use packaging, such as takeout containers and cutlery, by having people bring their own reusable containers and sustainable cutlery for their meals at work or school.
Meal prepping with a vegan diet can also be a way to support regenerative and sustainable agriculture by using locally grown and seasonal ingredients, thus reducing water and energy waste transporting bruits and veggies across the country to be eaten.
While transitioning to veganism can be rewarding, it might not be easy for everyone. That's ok! If you find yourself having “barrier foods”, or non-vegan foods you just can’t give up, check out this guide to transitioning to a vegan lifestyle that teaches you how to conquer your fears and negative thoughts about going vegan.
Incorporating a vegan diet into your lifestyle can also involve making some changes to your daily habits. For example, you may need to start reading labels more carefully to ensure that the products you’re using, such as personal care items and cleaning products, are vegan-friendly too.
Here are some amazing vegan recipe blogs you can follow for inspiration:
Oh She Glows: This blog by Angela Liddon features a wide variety of vegan recipes, as well as tips and advice on living a vegan lifestyle.
Minimalist Baker: This blog by Dana Shultz features simple and easy-to-follow vegan recipes, many of which require just 10 ingredients or less.
Hot for Food: This blog by Lauren Toyota features vegan comfort food recipes, as well as videos and cookbooks.
Vegan Richa: This blog by Richa Hingle features a wide variety of vegan recipes inspired by cuisines from around the world.
Keepin' it Kind: This blog by Kristy Turner features delicious and healthy vegan recipes, as well as information on living a compassionate lifestyle.
Vegan Yack Attack: This blog by Jackie Sobon features vegan recipes that are both tasty and nutritious, as well as a variety of other lifestyle and wellness content
3. Don’t Skimp on the Supplements
Anytime you remove major food groups from your diet, you need to supplement the nutrients in some other way. Vegans should pay attention to a few key nutrients that may be harder to obtain from a plant-based diet:
Vitamin B12: This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal-derived foods, so it can be difficult for vegans to get enough. Vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods such as plant-based milk or breakfast cereals are good options.
Vitamin D: Many vegans may not get enough vitamin D from sunlight, as the body can't produce it as efficiently through the skin when it's covered by clothing. Vitamin D supplements or fortified foods can help.
Omega-3 fatty acids: These are found in high amounts in fatty fish, but can also be obtained from algae-based supplements. This is particularly important for vegans as a good source of these acids.
Iron: Plant-based iron, also known as non-heme iron, is less well absorbed by the body than animal-based iron. Some vegan sources of iron include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
Iodine: This is an essential mineral for the proper function of the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism. Vegans can miss out on it by not eating iodized salt, sea vegetables (such as seaweed) are a good source.
Calcium: Calcium is key for bone health and can be obtained from plant-based sources such as leafy greens, fortified plant milk, and fortified orange juice.
Zinc: zinc is important for a healthy immune system and can be found in foods such as legumes, nuts, and seeds.
4. Try a Meal Kit or Two
If you're not much of a cook, or you don't have the time required to commit to vegan meal prep, or you're just trying to keep things interesting, there are many meal kits on the market to help you complement a vegan lifestyle. Here are just a few.
Purple Carrot: This vegan meal kit delivery service offers a wide variety of plant-based meals that are convenient and easy to prepare. They offer a flexible subscription service, making it easy to skip or cancel a delivery at any time.
Veestro: This vegan meal delivery service is one of the more well-known for its delicious and nutritionally balanced plant-based meals. They deliver pre-cooked, flash-frozen meals that can be heated up in minutes. It also offers an a la carte menu and juice cleanses.
Sun Basket: This meal delivery service has a menu option for Vegan plans that are USDA-certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified, they have a good variety of options, and come with pre-measured ingredients, recipes, and step-by-step instructions.
Green Chef: This meal delivery service is one of the few that is USDA-certified organic, they have a plant-powered menu that includes vegan, gluten-free, and keto options.
Plantable: This vegan meal delivery service is one that has a focus on locally sourced, organic, and non-GMO ingredients. They offer a variety of meal plans, including gluten-free and low-carb options.
Sakara Life: is an organic, plant-based, and non-GMO meal delivery service, It also has a wellness focus and it offers a variety of meal plans and programs, including a meal program specifically for weight loss.
Real Eats: This is a vegan meal delivery service that focuses on meals that are not just plant-based but also organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free options, they also offer a variety of meal plans, including an "all-in-one" plan that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
5. Continue to Enjoy Going Out
While meal prepping and making your own vegan meals are going to be a large part of your new vegan diet, don’t exclude yourself from going out for fear of accidentally eating something not vegan or something similar.
The more demand there is for something, the more chance there will be in the future. But until that happens, you may face some pushback for being vegan at restaurants. Amber, a vegan cookbook author, and influencer offers 10 tips for eating out as a vegan that is super helpful for those who are struggling to fit their new vegan diet into their old “eating out” lifestyle.
Essentially, plan where you want to go for a meal. Do your research by calling or looking online to see if that restaurant has vegan options. If you truly think that there won’t be full meal options for you, eat beforehand and get creative in ordering veggie-based sides you can still enjoy the experience of going out and leaving full.
6. Feel The Power of Your Food
One of the biggest benefits of a vegan diet is the potential for improved health.
It's important to remember that transitioning to a vegan diet isn't always easy and may require some trial and error. It may take some time to find the right balance of foods that works for you, and you may experience some challenges along the way.
The health benefits of a vegan diet can make the effort worthwhile.
A vegan diet has been shown to reduce the risk of:
high blood pressure
certain types of cancer
It can also help with weight loss, improving cholesterol levels, and reducing arthritis pain.
Vegan diets can also help your mental health. Specifically, they can help reduce your risk of worsening anxiety and depression.
This is due to the “gut-brain connection”. The gut-brain connection refers to the communication between the digestive system and the brain. This connection can affect a person's mood, appetite, and overall health. Research has shown that the gut microbiome (the collection of bacteria in the digestive system) can influence the brain and play a role in conditions such as anxiety and depression.
The gut-brain connection is a complex and multifaceted relationship that is still being studied.
For more information about the “gut-brain connection” and a vegan diet, visit a recent research study about how plant-based diets affect the body and brain.
However, it is also important to acknowledge the fact that veganism and extreme diet culture often go hand-in-hand. If you or a loved one are considering going vegan and are worried about the connection to eating disorders, check out this informative article from dietitian nutritionist Taylor Wolfram.
If you are in need of eating disorder-related support, please contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline for resources and treatment options for yourself or a loved one who is struggling.
7. Bask in the Feel-Good Feeling of Doing Good
In addition to health benefits, a vegan diet and lifestyle also have a positive impact on the environment.
Animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Every step of the production process for animal products like beef and dairy generates greenhouse gases: from the clearing of forests to make way for animal pasture, to the production of millions of tons of animal feed, to the immense waste generated by cows, pigs, chickens, and other farm animals.
Animal waste often produces large amounts of methane and nitrous oxide, both of which are highly potent atmospheric pollutants.
Maintenance and production of livestock also have a significant impact on energy production and resource use compared to many vegan alternatives.
Lastly, going vegan can help save trees. Having large open spaces for raising livestock is one of the largest global contributors to deforestation, followed by clearing land to grow animal feed.
Cattle are especially destructive and wasteful livestock, as they take more water, land, and energy to raise and transform into edible products than many other livestock animals.
![Infographic depicting how going vegan can protect the environment by resource - last updated October 2020](Veganism and The Environment by the Numbers)
For more information about how veganism affects the environment, Your Daily Vegan created an in-depth article outlining research as to how going vegan can protect the environment by resource, from land to sea, providing specific examples of deforestation.
8. Get Veginspired
A great way to stay on track with any lifestyle is to follow influential participants and authoritative resources of the lifestyle and participate in communities of like-minded people.
Happy Cow is a great online source of vegan tips and offers a list of top vegan influencers to follow on Instagram, some recommendations of online groups to join for new vegans, as well as tips for meeting other vegans in your area. All of these tips will help you feel part of a greater community, provide support when you have questions or are in need of a motivation boost, and keep you on track with your goals. Heck, you may even make some new friends along the way!
Some other well-established vegan resources include:
Vegan Outreach: This organization's website features information and resources on the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, as well as tips for transitioning to a vegan diet and advocacy for animal rights.
The Vegan Society: This is one of the oldest vegan societies in the world, which offers a wide range of information and resources on veganism, including research, nutrition advice, and practical tips for living a vegan lifestyle.
Veganuary: This organization aims to encourage people to try veganism during the month of January and throughout the rest of the year, it offers a wide range of information and resources to help people make the transition to a vegan lifestyle.
The Gentle World: This organization's website features information and resources on veganism, as well as tips for healthy living and self-improvement.
Vegan Peace: This website features information and resources on veganism, as well as campaigns and resources for animal rights activism.
Vegan.com: This website provides vegan news, opinion, food, and lifestyle content, as well as resource and product information.
VeganHealth.org: This website provides a wealth of information and resources on the health aspects of veganism, covering topics such as nutrition, supplements, and disease prevention.
Vegan Women: This website provides a community-driven platform to share resources, articles, and inspiration on a wide range of topics related to women and veganism.
Remember Why You Are Going Green and Give Yourself Grace
Making the switch to a vegan diet can be a big change, and it's natural to have some concerns or questions, and possible setbacks.
Remember, going vegan is ultimately your choice, and it also does not have to be all-or-nothing.
There are many reasons why you might want to go vegan, from physical health to ethical well-being.
Not all vegans have the same motivation; and, not all plant-based people eat the same things. That’s okay!
There are no wrong ways to have a more earth-conscious diet and lifestyle. Let’s help the earth and all living beings on this planet by making conscious choices about the food we eat and let the planet's healing begin!
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