Beginners Guide to a Vegan Diet

Posted by Tintin Sealey

What is Vegan?

Being vegan is in no way a new lifestyle, but it has been gaining steam over the past few years. The term ‘veganism’ is defined as a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, whether it be for food, clothing or any other purpose.  

Do your research:

If you’re reading this article right now, I assume you’re already doing your research, so congratulations! You’ve already taken the first step towards a healthier you. It’s important to remember that there are many different types of vegan diets. Different versions of a vegan diet require different approaches, and have different benefits. We suggest speaking to a qualified nutritionist before you make any major changes to your diet, to ensure you are doing what is best for your health.  

Benefits of going Vegan

There are so many health benefits of adapting a vegan diet, and every individual has their own motivation, or inspiration for adopting this lifestyle.  
  • Health Benefits
Adopting a vegan diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer or premature death.   There is also the chance that minimising your consumption of animal products can minimise, or even prevent the side effects antibiotics and hormones used in modern animal farming.   A vegan diet is known for assisting in the loss of body weight and body mass index (BMI). Many people choose to a follow a vegan diet in order to help shed body fat.   To learn more about the facts and figures behind this, the 2011 documentary, directed by Lee Fulkerson, Forks Over Knives explores all the health benefits of committing to a vegan diet.  
  • Environmental Benefits
Reduces greenhouse emissions: Meat production requires huge amounts of energy. Not only do you have to grow the crops to feed the animals, but fossil fuels are also burnt in the raising, slaughtering and transportation of animals. Livestock and their by-products account for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, so by adopting a vegan diet, you can reduce your greenhouse emissions by over half.   Conserve Water: Unlike the production of plant based foods, animal agriculture has a massive water demand. This is because animals need water to drink, wash, clean their living spaces and cool themselves during hot periods. Plant based foods are a much more efficient use of our scarce resources, as it minimises energy use from fossil fuels, as well as using less land and water.   To learn more about the facts and figures behind the environmental benefits of a vegan diet, Cowspiracy, directed by Kip Anderson, and Keegan Kuhn, delves into the harmful effects that the meat and dairy industry have on the environment, and how a vegan diet can help.  

Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t mean it’s good for you

It’s easy to fall into the trap that all food that falls into the vegan category is automatically good for you.This could not be further from the truth. With the popularity of vegan diets increasing by nearly 250% over the past five years, the options for vegan foods (especially on the go snacks) are pretty much endless. Just like any diet, your should be conscious of how much processed food you consume. Just because it doesn’t contain animal products, doesn’t cancel out the fact that too much processed food can be harmful to your overall health and wellbeing. In saying that, there is absolutely nothing wrong than treating yourself to some ‘naughty’ food in moderation!  

Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up

For most of us, switching from an entire life of eating meat, and animal products, to a lifestyle where none of it is allowed, is difficult! I’m telling you now, that in the beginning, you are more likely than not, going to have a few slip ups here and there. And that’s okay! Meat, and especially dairy have their sly ways of sneaking up on us in the foods that we least expect. If you’ve gotten to the end of a meal, and realise the sauce in your curry contained cows milk, accept it, and move on. That’s one mistake you won’t make again. What’s done is done, and a little slip up should not be the reason you go back to a full lifestyle of eating meat, and animal products. Be kind to yourself, you’re trying your best, and with time, you will learn, and you will grow. Don’t stop yourself from moving forward.  

Consider Supplements

A common concern when adopting a vegan lifestyle, is getting all your daily vitamins and minerals. Whilst it is possible to meet almost all your nutrient requirements, it is important to be aware of what you could be lacking in. Some of the main supplements to consider, and be aware of include:
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3’s
  • Iodine
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Zinc