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4 Things To Know About Switching To A Vegan Diet

By Natalie Wilson

With growing awareness surrounding the ethical and environmental benefits of a diet which is free from animal products, including fish, meat, eggs and dairy, more and more people are switching over to a vegan diet.

According to new research, going vegan is one of the biggest ways to reduce your personal impact on the planet, even before you have considered the ethical side of eating animal-based products. There are many different and unique reasons as to why you might choose to go vegan and this is a big lifestyle change, so is bound to be full of highs and lows, especially in the first month or so.

However, if you have only ever eaten meat, then making the switch over to veganism can be daunting and full of questions. With that in mind, then here are 4 things you should know about switching to a vegan diet.

You will be asked a lot of questions

No matter why you've decided to go vegan, whether it is because you've heard that plant-based diets promote better health, or you hope that giving up animal products will kick-start your weight loss. It might even be ethical concerns, but whatever your reason, you need to expect that people in your circle, whether it be family or friends, will notice and ask questions about this change.

People are sensitive when it comes to their diets, particularly if you challenge something which they have always believed. The best way to reduce conflict is to emphasise that you are switching to a vegan diet for your own personal reasons and that it works for you. Make it about you, so that other people don't feel the need to defend their own choices.

If you notice that people are being passive-aggressive with your decision, then the best thing to do is be kind. Why not cook for them, as this way you get to show people how tasty your food choices are and it is also a friendly and kind gesture as this stops people from expressing their negative attitudes.

Don't replace animal products with junk food

One of the biggest things that people do when it comes to switching to a vegan diet is to replace their regularly eaten animal products with vegan junk food or convenience food replacements. Swapping out meat for bread, chips and other packaged foods not only set you up for failing your new vegan venture, but also increases your regular calorie intake.

It isn't a good idea to swap animal products, which contain vitamins, minerals and protein for processed foods which provide very little nutritional value. You'll notice that you are hungrier if you rely on junk and processed foods as replacements, which can then lead to weight gain and a decrease in your mood.

You will need to take supplements

There are a number of vitamins which are found naturally in animal foods and products. By switching to a vegan diet, you will be consuming no animal products at all, so your diet will be lacking in some vitamins and minerals. B12 is a very important supplement for the way our bodies function as it keeps our nerves and blood cells healthy and helps in the production of DNA. It is found naturally in animal products, so you may want to find a b12 supplement to take, as a deficiency can lead to tiredness, loss of appetite, weight loss (the bad type) and nerve problems.

You may also need to take an iron supplement. Iron comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme is easily absorbed by the body and makes up around 40% of the iron in animal-based products. Vegan diets will contain non-heme iron only, which is much less easily absorbed by the body. This means that you may need to up your intake of iron if you want the same benefits. You can find iron naturally in a number of vegan-friendly foods, such as sunflower seeds, raisins, red peppers, broccoli and dark, leafy greens.

There are a number of vitamins and supplements which aren't vegan-friendly, as they contain animal products such as gelatin, fish oil and milk. Vegan probiotics and vitamins are now fairly easy to find, you just need to pay close attention to the labels and ingredients.

It doesn't need to cost more

One of the biggest arguments when it comes to switching to a vegan diet is that it is more expensive in the long run. However, meat is perhaps one of the most expensive food products you can buy in supermarkets and making changes to your shopping list is easy. The vegan pre-prepared and processed foods are what bumps up the price of your shopping and this is the mistake that so many people make when making that initial switch over to a vegan diet.

However, if you go back to basics and stock up on things such as fruits, vegetables, grains and pulses and beans, then you will quickly find that actually, there are savings to be had. Making things such as soups, stews and casseroles are not only filling but can be done with fresh and store cupboard essentials. If you find you are missing things such as cheese, yoghurts and meat products, then there are plenty of vegan alternatives available, but these will cost more.

Milk is another thing which people believe to be an expensive change. With the popularity of the vegan diet increasing, there is now a wide selection of dairy milk alternatives, such as oat, rice, coconut, almond and soy. A lot of people believe that these are a lot more expensive than fresh cow's milk, however, they are much longer-lasting and come in larger servings than the standard bottles of cows milk.

Conclusion

Making the switch over to a vegan diet can be overwhelming at first, but no matter the reasons why you've chosen to make the switch, you will soon see the benefits. Veganism is full of incorrect facts and myths - it is just finding a way which works for you which will ensure the results you are looking for.


 


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