Veganism is the hot topic that seems to be on every TV show, magazine and newspaper at the moment. From vocal celebrity champions of veganism such as Beyonce and Jay-Z, to health experts touting the benefits of even part-time veganism, to the undoubted positives for the environment related to lesser meat and dairy consumption, it's a topic which many of us are becoming increasingly interested in. However, knowing where to start in a partial or full transition to a vegan diet can be tough. It's a considerable lifestyle change, and one that many people find fairly daunting to contemplate. It is getting easier as veganism hits the mainstream, with alternative food products and vegan restaurants now much easier to find than they were ten years ago, but it still seems like a big change for those raised on a more traditional diet. Where exactly do you start?
Beginning With Veganism
Like most lifestyle changes, the idea of committing to a vegan lifestyle is a lot scarier than the reality. Instead of focusing on the scale of the change as a whole, it's important to concentrate on smaller, easy switches that you can make without a huge impact. Over time, these changes add up, and they also build momentum, making the full switch into veganism much easier and natural. You must go and your own pace and decide on what works best for you. Tailor your path to veganism to suit your own lifestyle, and you're sure to find it a much easier and more worthwhile transition to make.
Build Your Knowledge
A lot of people fall at the first hurdle because they didn't do their research before deciding to try out veganism for themselves. You really want to be as prepared as possible for any lifestyle adjustment, including such a profound change to your diet. It's extremely important when limiting the range of food products that you consume that you fully educate yourself about how to maintain optimum nutrition on a vegan diet - the last thing you want is to become ill or lose energy. This is especially important if you have any sort of preexisting health condition which might add complications, and you will want to speak to your healthcare provider beforehand about how veganism may affect you. It's also a good idea to fully understand what the benefits of your new diet are, and the practices behind the animal products that are commonly consumed - this will help you to connect with your own personal reasons for becoming vegan, be they ethical, health-related or environment. Knowing why you have chosen to do it for yourself makes it so much easier to stick to your principles when challenges arise. You will also need to understand ingredients lists - frequently, products can look vegan but contain animal products such as rennet, for example, cheese and onion flavoured crisps. There are a few less obviously animal-derived agents which can pop up in harmless looking products which you need to be aware of. Check out the vegan aisle at your local store and see what products are easily available to you and what you may have to order online, and take a look for vegan restaurants you can go to around you so you're not at a loss if someone suggests going out for dinner. You should also have a look for vegan web forums, recipe sites and magazines where you may find inspiration to keep your diet varied and interesting and also gain more confidence in your choice to transition into veganism.
Add Some, And Take Some Away
Often, we focus on the foods we can't eat and the nice recipes we can't make with an exclusion diet. However, it's equally as important to focus on what you can add more of and recipes that you will enjoy making and eating. Before cutting out animal products entirely, try simply adding more of the things you can eat into your diet. Find great dishes involving legumes, wholegrain, seeds, nuts, tofu and falafel. You should learn about food dehydrators so you can prepare snacks to grab on the go. Get to know about the different ways you can prepare them and challenge yourself to use more different spices and seasons to vary the taste of your dishes. It's also an easy swap to change over your milk and yoghurt for non-dairy alternatives such as oat, almond or soy milk and coconut yoghurt and ice-cream. Arm yourself with a few quick and tasty vegan recipes so that if you come in late, you have a go-to vegan dish that you can prepare quickly and you aren't tempted to grab something that doesn't fit with your diet and values. Or you could batch cook and freeze ahead of time so you have home-made ‘ready meals’ to pull out and enjoy when you're in a rush.
With a little preparation, going towards a vegan lifestyle can work well and enhance your quality of life.
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