With January’s “new year, new me” messaging posted all over social media, why not join the 440,000 people who have pledged to go vegan this January?
Veganuary, started in 2014, was a UK initiative to encourage people to try a vegan lifestyle (and enjoy its benefits) for the month of January. The cohort has grown over the years and is sitting at almost half a million people. It’s a worthy cause that encourages people to move towards plant-based eating while benefitting the environment and reducing factory farming.
Before switching to a vegan diet, here are a few things you need to know:
Talk to your doctor
It’s unlikely you will be advised against increasing your fruit and veg intake, the change in diet can exacerbate conditions such as anemia, so it’s best to have a professional provide the right guidance through your transition.
Planning is everything
If you are going to eat a vegan diet for 30 days, you need to plan. You’re cutting out meat, dairy, and eggs, so you have to find the right plant-based substitutes to make sure you’re not missing out on any nutrients, with enough variety so you don’t get bored. Furthermore, failing to plan means when hunger hits and you don’t have a ready-made snack, you’re more likely to reach for something quick and easy.
Get a good probiotic and drink plenty of water
What you may not realize about a vegan diet is that by increasing your fruit and veg intake you’re going to increase your fiber intake as well. This can cause some initial discomfort as your digestive system adjusts so make sure you drink plenty of water and take a probiotic to help support your gut health.
Consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement
Since vegans don’t eat meat or fish, they run the risk of becoming deficient in B12 so if you’re going to make the transition make sure to fortified foods with added vitamin B12 or take a daily B-complex supplement.
Processed foods can still be prevalent in a vegan diet so make sure you choose your substitutes carefully. Just like any other pitfalls there are sneaky pitfalls in what we think are healthy options – canned good can be high in salt and milk substitutes can be high in sugar. Make sure to source good-quality food and always read the labels.
Think about your protein
Possibly the most frustrating question vegans are asked is “Where do you get your protein?” when getting sufficient protein is easily achieved if you eat enough sufficient legumes, pulses, and protein-rich foods such as quinoa and buckwheat. If you’re regularly on the run, vegan protein powders can help you get enough to reach your daily requirement. Make sure to look for powders that contain the full spectrum of amino acids.
Whatever your reason for trying out a vegan diet this Veganuary, know that it can have an amazing impact on your overall health and with the growing number of people making the switch, there is large network of people available to answer your questions or give you advice. With it its growing popularity, the variety of vegan substitutes is growing almost daily, giving you plenty of options to make the best decisions for your health.
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