The consciousness of the planet is shifting. More people are adopting a vegan diet as their permanent way of eating. Almost 10 million Americans alone are vegan, and this number is growing! There is no denying the health benefits, but some people struggle to make the switch from a meat-rich diet. If this is you, the following guidance below can help make transitioning to a vegan diet simple and sustainable long-term.
Know your reason for becoming vegan.
Some people become vegan because they hear about the health benefits. Others do it as a personal mission to save the planet and the animals that inhabit it. Whatever your reason, let it be personal and meaningful to you. Knowing the value and specific benefits of becoming vegan will have on your health and well-being motivates you to commit to it long-term rather than as a diet fad.
Make high-quality swaps.
There are many foods promoted as vegan that are just as processed and full of low-quality sweeteners, additives, and fats as non-vegan foods. Making high-quality swaps to the non-vegan foods you’ve been accustomed to eating is an essential step. As a simple guide:
- Look for foods that are minimally processed.
- Whenever possible, choose meat substitutes that are vegetable, legume, and/or bean-based rather than those that are high in soy or hydrolyzed wheat.
Substitute foods, such as vegan hot dogs and burgers, are good for when transitioning from a high meat diet, but are not meant to be a large part of your new diet. These foods should be eaten in moderation and in addition to a plethora of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Find vegan recipes for your favorite meals.
Cooking from home is the easiest and best way to go vegan. Make a list of the foods you enjoy and eat most often. Then, find vegan friendly recipes to try in place of ones that use animal products. This is a fun way to discover new tastes while enjoying your favorite foods. For example, if you enjoy strawberry smoothies with a dairy milk base, search for recipes that include a plant-based milk instead. There are several different types to try, so have fun finding one that you love!
A common mistake many new vegans make is quitting because they disliked one dish. Don’t be discouraged. The same happens with any diet you adopt. You may not like every single meal. Find those that you do enjoy and play with altering the recipe until you find a new favorite. It’s important to keep the health benefits in mind as well.
Gradually increase the ratio of plant-based foods.
Once if your vegan palate is accustomed to eating more processed vegan foods, gradually begin playing with the ratio of fresh to processed foods on your plate. Increase the amount of vegetables and fruits while gradually decreasing the processed foods and meat substitutes. This is easy for some once they have become comfortable without the taste of meat with every meal. The benefits are many. By increasing the amount of produce you eat in comparison to other vegan foods, you are directly improving the quality and amount of nutrients your body receives and can most easily absorb.
Take good quality supplements.
While a vegan diet is high in many nutrients and antioxidants, transitioning into and maintaining a vegan diet requires adding specific essential nutrients that is not easy to acquire from foods alone. These nutrients include Vitamin D3, B vitamins, Iron, Calcium, and Zinc. If you’re looking for a high-quality, vegan source for all of these nutrients, you can find them all in our shop.
Find a community.
A support system is often overlooked when going vegan. Being social as a vegan may seem to be a daunting task, but the number of vegans are thankfully increasing. At HOI, we are happy to guide and support you on your vegan journey, but having local support makes a difference. Search online for vegan groups near your area to find new and existing vegans and plant-based eaters that can share recipes, experiences, and answer questions (If you want to know how to go vegan without breaking the bank, check out this article.)
Are you currently transitioning to a vegan diet? Schedule a health consultation for personalized support on your journey.
Wishing you the best of health!