HEY Squadies! Today I will be discussing going VEGAN! As some of you may know, I have always tried to fit some plant-based meals into my diet. This last week, I took it a step further and have been on a FULL vegan diet and am absolutely loving it! There are a ton fallacies and questions that surround veganism today I will help answer some of these questions as well as share some helpful tips and tricks on getting started with a vegan diet!
Sometimes, going vegan can be difficult, especially when you are trying to stick to a LEAN diet! Where do I start?! Where else can I find healthy sources of lean protein?! How will I feel?! Today I will address all these questions and more in hopes to help any squadies out there who are thinking of going vegan or even thinking of incorporating more vegan dishes into their daily life!
1. Start slow
A lot of the time, we think that veganism has to be all or nothing – but this is not necessarily the case, especially when you are first getting started. It is OKAY to EASE INTO IT! Depending on your current diet and the sensitivity of your stomach, it can be a huge shock to the system to just cut out a lot of your daily foods and ingredients all at once. Not only that but you might not be PREPARED!
I decided to go vegan on a whim – meaning I made the decisions, cleared out my fridge and cupboards, then made the realization that I had nothing prepared! I had no meals planned and no groceries and in hindsight, I should have been more prepared before jumping into a journey wanting it to be successful! Those first few days were super stressful and I definitely would not recommend this!
Instead, what I recommend is slowly introducing veganism into your diet slowly over the course of 1-2 weeks, THEN commit for a specific amount of time to complete veganism! This way, you can experiment with different vegan dishes, see whats working for you and what is not and get the hang of cooking AND eating these new foods. From there you can pick a couple of meals and get them all prepped and ready to go so you have a smooth transition!
As you get comfortable and go along, you can try new dishes and foods, broaden your horizon and decide if you want to make veganism your new lifestyle!
If you need some ideas to get started, check out a couple of these receipes:
2. Get over the Protein Fallacy!
There is a super common misconception surrounding veganism when it comes to protein! It is NOT true that you cannot get enough protein on a vegan diet! The reality is there are TONS of incredible sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, grains and even our vegetables! It may be a little difficult at first since for the most part – most meat eaters get their protein from meat! It just takes a little bit of getting used to and trying new things and you can have all the protein you need, no problem!
One of the KEYS when vegan is to make sure you eat a WIDE VARIETY of DENSE, WHOLE FOODS. You really want to avoid eating a narrow spectrum of foods. The tendency of a lot of first time veganers is too UNDER EAT! Whether or just starting out or training intensely, just keep a WIDE variety of foods in your diet and you will be fine!
I personally am not tracking my protein intake nor am I tracking calories. Instead I am just eating intuitively like I would when I was eating animal products. Listening to my body and keeping a wide variety of foods has got me feeling food so far!
3. Look out for Secret Ingredients
This is a tip that is super annoying and tedious at first – but is also super important to do! A ton of foods or dishes may contain meat or dairy products that you wouldn’t have thought or probably wouldn’t know unless you were looking out for it! For example, ingredients like gelatin, glaze, whey in bread, insinglass (found in some beers and wines), some french fries are fried in animal fats, pesto, the list goes on an on! You have to do your research and be aware! If you are eating out, make sure to ask if they have vegan meals, look for vegan signs, and just be generally aware of what ‘sneaky’ foods can contain dairy or meat products.
Be aware, and be patient! You WILL get the hang of it and eventually, it will be second nature!
4. Expect bloating and gas!
Be aware that you are more than likely going to experience more gas & bloating than normal. I know this isn’t a topic that most people like discussing but it is super important to mention so you know what you are in for if you take the plunge into veganism!
Now for me, again, I went zero to 100 and EVEN with a well balanced diet going into this, I still experienced a WHOLE LOT more gas than normal. What’s the cause of this?! Since you are now eating a ‘plant-based’ diet, almost all the foods you eat will have some kind of plant or veggy involved. Veggies are PACKED with fibre which is what is going to cause this bloating and gas you will most likely experience! The good news is that eventually, your body will get used to this extra fibre intake and you will not experience this forever!
Already, 7 days in, I am starting to feel a lot better! Again, everyone is different so some may adjust faster, some slower – sometimes this adjustment can take up to a month! A good tip to help minimize this would be to follow tip 1 and take things slowly. Start bringing new foods and dishes into your diet slowly so your body has a chance to adjust and the transition will be a ot smoother!
There is one supplement you MUST take while on a vegan diet and that is vitamin B12. This is a vitamin that is almost exclusively found in meat. Cutting out meat will mean you will have to supplement this vitamin to ensure you are getting your daily dose of vitamin B12! Vitamin B12 is vital for the formation of blood and aids the entire brain and nervous system, so be sure to get your B12’s before going vegan!
Another supplement i would suggest for my vegan and non-vegan squadies is vitamin D! The majority of our overall population is deficient in vitamin D which is important in a ton of different areas of our body and overall mental health!
6. Soy is OKAY!
Another common misconception of veganism is that soy is NOT good for you – This is NOT TRUE! Soy is okay! There are a ton of studies that have been done surrounding this issue and they say that soy does not negatively impact testosterone levels of SHBG levels in men!
So, you can all rest easy! HOWEVER, like I mentioned early, like in any diet or way of eating, it’s still important to get a wide variety of proteins, fats and nutrients in the body. So don’t just go nuts on SOY but instead, incorporating with your mind at ease knowing that it will not negatively impact your results!
7. Remember your WHY!
Everyone has a reason for wanting to go vegan, whether it be saving the animals, helping minimize effects of global warming, or simply for your own health! When you are going through a tough time or are struggling, just remind yourself of WHY you decided to become vegan to begin with to help you get through those times!
There WILL be those moments when you are out with friends and can’t eat everything you would like to, or moments where it may seem impossible. However, if you really NAIL DOWN why you are doing this, it will make all of those moments much easier to push through with a smile on your face.