How To Transition To A Vegan Diet
Realizing that animals are tortured and killed for food can bring your whole world crashing down. You want to take action immediately, but you don’t know where to start. Well, how about your diet? You can help our furry and feathered friends by simply going vegan. But after years of being an omnivore, this can be quite challenging. Especially when your friends and family think you’re crazy for refusing a bite of someone’s birthday cake. When you decide to go vegan, it’s important to remember that your body has physiological needs. As much as you want to make the transition, you’ll have to ease into it so you don’t upset your system.
Knowledge Is The Key
Before you begin your transformation, learn everything you can about the vegan lifestyle. It’s a lot easier to make the switch when you’re aware of the health, environmental, and spiritual benefits of going vegan. You also want to jot down all the nutrients (minerals and vitamins) required by the human body and compile a list of plant-based foods that provide these nutrients. Add these foods to your diet before you start cutting out animal products. This way, you’ll get used to eating more plants and your body will continue to receive the optimal nutrition even when you stop consuming animal products.
Where To Start
Most people believe that larger animals like cows and pigs are more sentient, and hence, they find it easier to relate to these animals. If you feel the same, start your journey to veganism by omitting pork and beef from your diet. You can cut out one of these animals from your daily meals, and after about two weeks stop consuming both types of red meats. You’ll be saving at least 3-4 cows and pigs every year, while simultaneously shielding your body from all the antibiotics and growth hormones pumped into these poor animals.
Birds And Fish
After being large-animal free for a month, you can move on to chicken and fish, who are just as sentient as any cow, pig, or goat out there. For starters, reduce your consumption of white meat till you’re eating it just once every 2 days. From this point on, start consuming less until you’re eating meat just once a week. You can use this technique to cut red meat out of your diet if you can’t seem to do it in one go. By drastically cutting down on meat, you can help save the lives of many chickens and fish and cut down on your intake of cholesterol and saturated fats. Once you’ve limited your consumption of meat to once every week, cutting it out completely is easy.
Note: Contrary to popular belief, there is no BAD cholesterol manufactured in the human body. All cholesterol from outside is bad, and cholesterol can only come from the livers of animals (humans included). So when you omit meat from your diet, you eliminate your intake of cholesterol, which will ensure that your arteries stay clean and your heart stays healthy.
Eggs And Dairy
Once you know where eggs come from and what they really are, getting eggs out of your diet shouldn’t be too difficult. If you still find this a little challenging, use the cutting-down technique that you used to stop eating meat. Dairy, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. We’re so used to consuming copious quantities of milk, cheese, cream, and butter, that life without it seems impossible. So let’s deal with these products individually.
With all the delicious plant-based milk out there, this is perhaps the easiest thing to replace in your diet. Instead of cow’s milk, you can drink coconut, rice, almond, cashew, or soy milk. Coffee made with coconut and cashew milk is deliciously creamy, and you can have soy, rice, or almond milk with your cereals. Plant milk may be a little more expensive, but since cow’s milk contains all sorts of bovine growth hormones, blood, and pus, it’s best to stay away from it altogether.
If you enjoy buttered toast, you can use almond or cashew butter instead. You’ll find hundreds of recipes for either of these online. When you’re making sandwiches and tacos, use hummus instead of cheese or cream spread. Hummus has the same texture and it’s rich in protein. Besides, it’s free from casomorphins, an opiate that’s as potent as heroin. Small wonder that people are hooked onto cheese!
Thanks to the opioids present in cheese, people all over the world are addicted to it. So it’s understandable if you can’t imagine life without cheese. In this case, you’ll have to stay cheese-free for at least 2 weeks and educate yourself about the harmful effects of cheese and the horrors of the dairy industry. This will make it easy to give it up. However, if you’re craving a pizza or some lasagne, you’ll find plenty of plant-based cheeses that can do the job. You can use almond cheese, vegan parmesan, tapioca cheese, (Daiya cheese is our favorite) and a host of other plant-based cheese to whip up a vegan version of your favorite dish.
What To Bear In Mind
In theory, of course, it seems easy to go full vegan. And in reality, it is. But to make a complete switch, you’ll have to make a few lifestyle changes as well.
When you’re planning to eat at a restaurant, search for vegan-friendly options, or at least look for restaurants that reveal the ingredients of each dish on their menu. When you’re placing an order, let the waiter know that you’re vegan, and explain what it means if you have to. Never feel sorry for inconveniencing someone because you choose to be more compassionate and abstain from animal products. Sometimes, the chefs take it upon themselves to ‘add a dash of butter’ to the dish. So let the waiters know that you won’t eat anything with cheese, butter, cream, honey, gelatin, or mayo in it.
When you visit the grocery store, be sure to read the labels on all the products that you buy. Even chips, biscuits, and other seemingly vegan items contain traces of gelatin, milk, or some other animal product in them. Before you purchase an item, read the ingredient list to ensure that you’re not supporting animal exploitation. Remember, there are vegan alternatives to every product you can imagine.
When most people decide to go vegan, they tend to lose weight and feel less energetic. This isn’t because they’re consuming plant foods, but because of the calories, they’re putting into their bodies. The nutrients in plant-based foods are far denser, and since plants are digested easily, your body burns up the calories they provide within a very short period of time. So you need to ensure that you’re putting the same amount of calories into your system even while eating plant-based foods. Use a BMR Calculator to calculate the number of calories you should be putting into your system every day. Once you have a rough estimate, see if what you’re eating matches up to the necessary calorie count.
Vegan Is Healthier
Here’s where a lot of people get confused. Yes, a vegan diet is healthier. But only if you’re putting the right nutrients into your body. You can eat potato chips and drink coke all day and still be a vegan. But it doesn’t make you a healthy one! That being said, a diet rich in animal protein tends to make your body more acidic. To deal with this, your body leaches calcium phosphate from your bones and uses the phosphorus to neutralize the acidity. The calcium is then excreted out along with your urine. This is why countries that consume the most meat and dairy also experience the highest incidences of osteoporosis. Besides this horrific effect that meat has on your bones, meat consumption is also linked to higher risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes, obesity, and the list goes on and on.
Whether you’ve turned vegan for health, environmental, or ethical reasons, it can be difficult to stay committed to this new lifestyle. So continuously remind yourself of the various aspects of veganism and how you’re single-handedly making a massive impact on this planet. It can get difficult at times, especially when your friends and family start to point out issues with your new lifestyle. You realize that people you’ve known all your life seem to care nothing for the suffering of animals, and this can be very disheartening. But bear with it, because everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. You probably consumed meat for the most part of your life as well, till you finally decided to change. Once your loved ones see that it’s not some kind of trend but something that you’re passionate about, they may want to learn more about veganism. Explain everything to them as logically and calmly as possible and show them videos if they’re up for it. Eventually, they’re sure to see the sense in what you’re saying.
We hope this article can help your transition to a vegan lifestyle a bit easier. Just know we vegans are ever growing and are always happy to help.