So you want to become vegan

So you are thinking of becoming vegan, for the month of January or maybe for longer. Maybe you are just thinking of going plant-based or are just vegan-curious.

This is not a written piece on the pros and cons of veganism but to just explain why some people choose to follow a vegan lifestyle.

What are the reasons people become vegan?

  • Health

One of the main reasons people want to give veganism a try is for health reasons, We all know that consuming a larger amount of fruit and vegetables is healthy for us. A good vegan lifestyle ( and I stress the word good) is packed with so many nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Numerous studies have shown that adopting this lifestyle has a huge impact on your health. It is lower in saturated fats and also packed with anti-inflammatory foods that help to combat certain life-changing diseases, such as

  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • The Animals

We are more aware today of the suffering animals go through to arrive on our plate. Inhumane practices still exist in farms and slaughterhouses. Animals become a collection of body parts. In factory farms animals are forced to reside in cramped conditions, often with no windows or sunlight and living in conditions that are different from their natural existence.

This was my reason for becoming vegan along with not enjoying the texture of meat.

  • The planet

If I am honest, this reason did not occur to me at first. Now though it is a big consideration for so many vegans

Where do I start?

Veganuary is a good place to start. It was where I turned to in January 2018. I was already vegetarian for most of my adult life. I just needed a little help with making the step into veganism.

Veganuary started in 2014 and just over 3,000 took part that year and in January 2022 that number was around 630,000. This plant-based challenge offers you the opportunity to dip your toe into eating a vegan diet. By signing up or taking the pledge you have access to recipes, tips and a wealth of knowledge.

The internet is also a good place to look. There is a wealth of vegan bloggers, chefs and nutritionists on there to guide you and show you healthy recipes. The vegan society is a great starting place

What is a healthy vegan diet?

Whatever way you decide to try veganism, make sure it is nutritionally balanced. A vegan diet can be really unhealthy if it is reliant on biscuits, pies and vegan processed meals.

A healthy vegan diet consists of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses and wholegrain foods. Nutritional essentials such as

ProteinNuts, seeds, legumes and pulses
Vitamin B12Fortified cereals and milk, yeast extract and nutritional yeast
CalciumKale, broccoli, nuts, seeds, tahini and fortified plant based milk
Omega 3sFlaxseed oil, walnuts and chia seeds
Iodine, selenium and zincBrazil nuts, sesame and sunflower seeds, tofu, quinoa, brown rice and lentils

Do I need to take supplements?

Contrary to what people think you should only require to take 2 types every day which is Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Along with a couple of walnuts or tsp of flaxseed oil a day and a healthy varied diet is all you need.

Vitamin B12

Helps in the production of red blood cells and maintains healthy nerve cells. B12 is produced by micro-organisms not produced by plants. Vegans only obtain B12 in fortified foods, for that reason it does help to take 10mcg of vegan B12 daily.

Vitamin D

It is not just vegans who benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement. Non-vegans who do not live in a sunny climate all year round would benefit from taking it between October to March.

This vitamin I call the sunshine one, It is different to other nutrients in that your body can also make it. Its primary role is to help your body absorb calcium from food. When you expose your skin to sunlight your body converts the cholesterol to vitamin D. It is found in fortified rice and almond milk, fortified orange juice and cereals. Mushrooms also contain Vitamin D, which can be boosted by exposing the mushrooms to sunlight.

Because of the small amounts found in a plant-based diet, a daily vitamin D supplement could be taken daily, making sure it is vegan.

What I need to eat daily?

5-10 portions of fruit and vegetablesFresh, frozen, blended in smoothies or dried. Eat a rainbow in variety
2-3 servings of pulsesBeans, peas, lentils and soya and products made from soya such as tofu
3-4 servings of cerealsBrown rice, whole wheat pasta and bread, quinoa and oats
A small handful or spoonful of nutsChopped, roasted, raw or eaten in nut butters
Selenium2 brazil nuts daily

I will follow this up with another post containing some samples of some daily menus.

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