1. It tastes goodA vegan diet isn't all about living on kale and grains, although you can eat as many of these as you like if you are so inclined! Giving up meat and dairy products does not mean you have to miss out on foods such as ice cream, burgers and to join in at BBQs! As the demand for vegan substitutes rises, companies are coming out with more meat-free, and dairy-free produce that taste and look very close to the real thing. Be wary of processed food, though, even processed vegan food can be very unhealthy and contain ingredients such as preservatives, sugar and salt. Don't just replace your animal products with junk food; this can lead to uncontrolled hunger, weight gain and a grumpier mood.
2. It's easier than you thinkSwitching to a vegan diet will not happen overnight. It's a bit like making the switch to green beauty; you can change one product at a time as your current product runs out. Start by adding more plant-based products to your diet as you reduce your animal produce, especially non-organic and refined foods. Make gradual changes, a simple way to do it is to remove one food group at a time. Start with fish, then dairy, white meat and then red meat, for example. You will not suddenly wake up in the morning a vegan, so don't be too hard on yourself.
3. For your healthOne question you may hear over and over again is "can you get enough of what your body needs on a plant-based diet?" The answer is, yes you can. Here are some simple food swaps to get the nutrients you need:
- Protein - Eliminating meat from your diet will remove a large dose of your daily protein intake. You can substitute meat with foods such as black beans, tofu, nuts, broccoli and quinoa all of which contain protein.
- Omega 3 - Mostly sourced from fish, you can replace this source with walnuts or flaxseed.
- Calcium - Found in dairy products usually sourced from cow's milk, there are several other ways to keep your bones strong and healthy. Collard greens, kale, broccoli, beans, sesame tahini, soybeans, planted-based milk, figs and almonds are all an excellent source of calcium.
- Iron - this is an easy one! You will find plenty of iron in spinach, so start adding these green leaves to salads, pasta dishes or curries to up your intake. Other iron-rich foods include beans, lentils, chickpeas, oatmeal, sunflower seeds, and grains such as quinoa.
- Magnesium - Aiding in the absorption of calcium, this essential nutrient is also present in nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens.
- Vitamin A & E - Vegans will often have good skin health; this is due to the dose of vitamins A and E they consume from vegetables. You may also notice a reduction in blemishes as a vegan and your hair, body and nails to feel stronger due to this nutritional intake.
- Vitamin B12 - This is very commonly found in animal products and is harder to come by in a vegan diet. Vegans are advised to get their B12 levels checked, it can be found in fortified soy milk, but it is advisable to top your levels up with a supplement.