Going Vegan? Here are 7 Things To Know Before Transitioning
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Before you decide to jump on the no-animal-product bandwagon and turn vegan, the transition can be quite an intense process to integrate into a routine. While dietary choices in a plant-based diet have expanded to accommodate meat and dairy replacements, understanding that a vegan diet can also border on the unhealthy is crucial when you’re newly veganised. Keeping in mind the nutritional challenges as well as finding solid replacement sources for essential nutrients, are some of the mandates that one must keep in mind during the process of the transition from one diet to another. Here’s a comprehensive list of everything you need to know:

Iron & B12 Supplements

While animal protein is a natural source of B12 vitamins and heme iron, both of which are easily absorbed by the body – vegan diets contain non-heme iron which is less-easily absorbed. This means that the intake of dietary sources containing both nutrients must be increased while following a vegan diet in order to keep blood cells healthy and avoid losing weight unhealthily. Eating plenty of dark leafy greens, legumes, sunflower seeds and red bell peppers aid in the absorption of these nutrients in a vegan diet.

Healthy Replacements For Animal Products

While pantry ingredients like bread, pasta and other pre-packaged foods have chances of being vegan, they are not likely to provide the nutritional density that is derived from protein like fish or chicken. Finding replacements that are equivalent in nutritional value, as opposed to being just a vegan replacement for foods you would’ve typically enjoyed is necessary to provide the required fuel to your body for day-to-day functioning.

Reduced Soy-Based Consumption

While the jury is still out on the harmful effects of consuming soy and soy-based products, it is said that eating too much mock meat – usually made of soy protein – as a replacement for animal-based products, can be much more harmful. Since meat substitutes are highly processed, they contain a larger amount of sodium, which might cause various lifestyle diseases. Sticking to healthier options like tofu, edamame, soy milk and tempeh are advisable.

Reading Food Labels

When you’re newly vegan, it is important to read the contents of food products before making a purchase. Chances are that although a product might claim to be vegan, it might not always be suited to be accommodated in a vegan diet. Many cereal bars, breads and granolas often contain casein and whey – both of which are derived from milk. Some food products might also contain gelatine, derived from animals as well as Natural Red 4 or carmine, a food colouring derived from the dried bodies of female beetles.

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Finding Vegan Tweaks For Your Favourite Orders

Turning vegan does not always mean that you might have to change the way you eat out completely; it’s all about finding and making small adjustments to your favourite meals and continuing to enjoy them with equal enthusiasm. For example, if your favourite restaurant makes a delicious butter chicken, simply check with the staff if they can provide a vegan alternative to the meat and make the curry devoid of dairy products. If your favourite brand of ice cream is one that you thought of giving up, check if they stock up on vegan ice creams made with coconut or almond milk in flavours that you would usually enjoy.

One Switch At A Time

Turning vegan is not an overnight process where one is expected to give up everything they’ve eaten all at once. Start the process by adding more plant-based foods to your diet, replace one animal-based product in one meal a day with a vegan alternative. Cut back on dairy and non-organic meat and include more vegetables or legumes. Simultaneously, remember to keep a check on how much processed food is being consumed in return and remain conscious about not overdoing it.

New Protein Sources

Being an important component of a balanced diet, proteins are the dietary building blocks that help break down amino acids to promote cell repair and regeneration. Include plenty of vegan protein sources like lentils, beans, quinoa, tofu and seitan in your diet to make up for the lack of eggs, paneer, fish or meat in your diet. Based on the average weight of an individual, the daily dietary protein requirement might vary but be slightly higher in ratio when compared to animal-based protein.