There are many reasons why someone would consider starting an all plant-based diet. The growing pressure of the meat industry on the economy and the environment is causing great concern and is most likely not sustainable at the current level, not to mention the future projections accounting for a growing global population. Also, many have strong ethical reasons to abandon and oppose consuming meat as they view the whole process as being immoral and barbaric.
Whatever the case, it is a big step forward in anyone’s life and a lot of things will change for you, not only what you prepare in the kitchen. You will have to take precautions to maintain a rich and healthy intake that doesn’t have any meat proteins and fats in them, as well as not to use clothing and accessories that are derived from animals. Luckily for you, that road is already paved and there is already a large industry that caters to those needs.
A Good Starting Point
Considering how this change can be very difficult for the body to adapt to in a short while, it is worthwhile considering if you are physically ready for something like that. If you have:
- lower iron levels in your blood,
- a very slow metabolism,
- bad teeth, or
- are allergic to some foodstuff,
you may have problems while suddenly changing your diet by throwing out meat from it. Even though plant-based food, with some supplements, can completely replace your earlier diet, your body will need some time to adapt to it or you will have to find a way around its flaws.
For starters, as the microbiology in our digestive tract is used to a certain kind of food, for example, meat-based proteins, we will feel better if we gradually replace it by changing our diet over the course of several weeks instead of one day. Further, if we are generally of poor health, we should consider if that is may be caused by something else rather than our diet and have that fixed first.
How to Have a Nutritional Diet
The nutritional needs of the body may be divided into two categories: macronutrients that are needed in larger quantities, and micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that go in very small quantities. Depending on age, sex, activity, as well as overall health we need slightly different nutrients throughout the day.
The vegan diet, despite being rich in almost all of these components, lacks some of the essential amino acids and oils that are usually found only in animal-based food. Milk and eggs, for example, have all the essential amino acids humans need, but luckily today we have a vegan omega 3 supplement that is derived from algae instead and can cover a great gap left in the diet. The same goes for other nutrients – soy proteins, as well as those derived from microorganisms, are great and healthy replacements to animal ones!
The Food Pyramid
When thinking about changing your diet you should definitely first consult a doctor or nutritionist. They are professionals that have an in-depth knowledge of how the human body works and will know best what kind of food you can and should be eating in order to be healthy and well.
But if you don’t know any reliable nutritionist, or you plan on making smaller adjustments to your diet, such as from a vegetarian to a vegan one, you can do some calculations yourself.
The food pyramid is one of the basic tools for a healthy diet, showing how much and in what order we should be eating. The majority of our diet should compose of plant-based carbon hydrates, for energy, while proteins and oils should be taken in much less. Dietary guidelines for vegans by the FAO are also worth looking at as that whole official body is dedicated to organizing healthy and sustainable agriculture and nutrition in the world.
Don’t Rush It
Unless you have a serious health problem and have been advised so by a doctor, there is no need to rush with this transition. Give yourself time, at least a month or two, to learn where you are supposed to shop, what kitchen utensils you will need, what cookbooks suit you, etc.
Doing this too quickly will probably only make you resent your choice as you will not have proper meals and nutrition for a few weeks, causing fatigue and an overall bad mood.
Find a Likeminded Community
However reasonable from our perspective – transitioning to a plant-based diet is still a bit uncommon in today’s society and you may be faced with backlash from your surroundings. Those who are accustomed to consuming meat will usually question your diet change and will try to find reasons for you to switch back instead of accepting it as your natural choice.
Because of this, and many other reasons, it is beneficial to find a group that shares your views on the whole matter as they will give you the support you need. Exchanging recipes, discussing vegan accessories, telling each other what is new on the market, etc, are all things that will help you with your new diet (and lifestyle!). Group meals, as well as joining communal gardens, are other great ideas you might pursue too but are beyond the scope of this text.
Don’t Be Picky
When limiting yourself to a vegan diet don’t go too far and start avoiding too much variety. Our digestive system has evolved for a mixed diet, and while it may perfectly function on plants alone it will require a whole series of different plants to be healthy. So not including some obviously very exotic or rare species (depending on where you live), you will still have a huge number of fruits and vegetables to choose from.
The enormous number of plant species, though not all edible, gives us an opportunity to have a very varied and rich culinary experience without having to spend a lot of money. So, for example, if you used to not eat broccoli try preparing it in a different way now so that you may like it. Potatoes are cool and all, but eating them every day will just be limiting yourself from a huge selection of other delicious treats!
Plant-based diets are very likely the diet of the future. With people being more and more aware of how the meat industry works, as well as the rising price of quality meat, we can expect more people hopping on this train and joining the vegan team. You are making the right choice for considering this route, just remember not to rush it while digging in!