If your heart or in this case, stomach is set on a vegan diet, here’s what you need to know first. By Janice Sim
You might have already heard of the many health benefits of a strict plant-based vegan diet – reduced risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke etc. In a nutshell, these diets are rich in protein, iron, calcium and other essential minerals. You are consuming foods that are low in saturated fat, high in fibre and filled with antioxidants. Going vegan means cutting out all animal foods, including dairy from your diet. Unlike vegetarians who have the extra option of cheese, milk and eggs, committing to a vegan diet is a whole different ball game altogether. Here’s what you need to know before deciding to cross over to the squeaky clean side.
1. You need a B12 supplement.
Saying goodbye to animal foods means saying goodbye to B12, which is usually where it comes from. A lack of this vitamin can lead to tiredness, lack of appetite and nerve problems. Look to B12-fortified foods like fortified breakfast cereals and certain soy products or a B12 supplement to make sure you are consuming it on a daily basis.
2. You need new protein sources.
You can’t do without protein in your diet as they break down into amino acids, which promotes cell growth and repair. Since you can no longer depend on meat for that solution, look to natural soy, lentils, beans, quinoa for great sources of protein for vegans.
3. Be careful not to trade your animal foods for junk.
You could be easily tempted to satisfy your cravings through processed foods like white bread or potato chips but these not just provide more calories but come with little nutritional value as well. If you were intending to lose weight from a vegan lifestyle, this bad habit could render it obsolete.
4. Don’t make the transition overnight.
The best way to go vegan, is to do it gradually. The process could take up to weeks, or even months. Especially if your former diet was heavy on meat and dairy, you would definitely need to take a while for your body to adapt to the change. If you do so slowly and patiently, the more likely you will stay true to it. (For inspiration on what veggies to add to your diet, read this!)
5. You would probably need to shelve out more time to cook your own meals.
Having your meals outside would definitely be a challenge, if not more expensive and less enjoyable. By preparing your own meals, you can find new ways of improving the taste with different ingredients or condiments and also finding out what is to your liking.