Regardless of your current diet, there are several things to consider before going vegan. A vegan diet is one that is void of all animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, etc. Depending on personal preference, many vegans choose not to eat honey as well. A well-planned vegan diet can be a very healthy diet and can provide everything that your body needs to stay healthy. In order to find success when choosing to a diet void of animal products, here are 7 things to consider before going vegan.
1. Why Are You Choosing to Eat a Vegan Diet?
One of the first things to consider before going vegan is why you are choosing to eat this particular diet. Just like with any other diet, if you know and understand why you are eating a diet free of animal products you will be more likely to stick to it. Is it for health reasons? Is it to reduce your risk of heart disease? Is it because you love animals? Is it because you are searching for a more peaceful way of eating? Whatever your reasons may be, before eliminating all animal products, ask yourself why first. After all, people are going to ask and it’s always good to have a clear and concise answer when the critics come.
2. How Will You Respond to Critics?
Speaking of critics, how will you respond to them? You may not care one bit about what they have to say, but your answer might just help them. A vegan diet is often seen as far fetched or extreme, when in actuality, it shouldn’t be. The way you handle yourself when the critics come could actually help someone become less of a critic and more of a supporter – or if not a supporter, at least not a hater.
3. Where Will You Get Your B12
One vitamin that is very hard for vegans to meet the daily requirements for is vitamin B12. B12 is found mostly in animal proteins like meat, fish, dairy products and eggs. Because a vegan diet is free of all of these foods, vegans have to find other ways to get this vitamin. Nowadays, many vegan approved foods are fortified with B12, making it much easier for vegans to get their daily requirements. Foods like tofu, nutritional yeast, dairy free milks, energy bars, cereals, etc. are all often fortified with B12, therefore, by including these foods, vegans can absolutely get enough B12. B12 supplements are also available if necessary.
4. Where Will You Get Your Iron?
Another nutrient often low in a vegan diet is iron. There are two different forms of iron, heme and non-heme. Heme iron, found in animal products like meat, poultry and fish is more absorbable than non-heme iron, which is found in plant based foods like grains, beans, and vegetables. Because of this, vegans should pay particular attention to eating plant based foods rich in iron. A few of these foods include beans (soy beans, lentils, chickpeas, lima beans, etc), dark green leafy veggies (spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, etc.), grains (quinoa) and nuts (cashews, almonds, etc.). Vegans can also pair these iron containing foods with foods that contain vitamin C such as broccoli, bok choy, tomatoes, oranges, etc. to enhance the absorption of iron.
5. Where Will You Get Your Protein?
A rather frustrating question for vegans, but one that comes up rather often, is “but where will you get your protein?” Contrary to popular belief, the American diet is actually on the high end when it comes to daily protein requirements. The average woman actually only needs a little more than 46 grams of protein to sustain a healthy lifestyle, far less than the standard American diet. Great vegan protein sources include lentils, black beans, quinoa, kidney beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, etc.
6. Where Will You Get Your Calcium?
Although it shouldn’t be, another nutrient vegans get asked a lot of questions about is calcium. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to meet your daily requirements for calcium without consuming a single dairy product. Vegan friendly foods like soybeans, bok choy, broccoli, collards, kale, and okra, as well as fortified non-dairy milk and juice and calcium-set tofu are all rich sources of calcium. It is absolutely possible to get all of the calcium as long as you eat a well-balanced diet!
7. Can You Resist Vegan Junk?
Being vegan doesn’t necessarily make a product healthy! Things like French fries, potato chips, many candies, doughnuts, etc. are vegan, however, they will certainly not contribute to good health! Eating a vegan diet often requires you to be flexible in situations outside of your control, therefore, you have to choose the healthier foods, even when vegan options are sparse.
As you can see, a well-balanced vegan diet is a perfectly healthy diet as long as you consider the topics mentioned above. With a little bit of thought and preparation, eating a vegan diet can add to your healthy living goals. Have you ever tried a vegan diet?