Whether it’s a result of wanting to be healthier or taking a stand against animal cruelty, an increasing number of people are deciding to give veganism a try. Even major restaurant chains like McDonald’s, KFC and Taco Bell are offering vegan options to accommodate this lifestyle. However, cutting out meat, dairy and eggs can easily leave a person wondering how to eat a healthy, balanced diet. Here are some essential tips to get you started on your journey:
1. Focus On What You CAN Eat Instead of What You Can’t
You’ll often find people getting caught up worrying about everything that they can’t have on a plant-based diet rather than focusing on all the great things they can eat and drink. For instance, while cow’s milk is not an option, the non-dairy alternatives are plentiful, from oat milk to homemade pecan milk. Vitamin-rich veggies meal choices also have many advantages, such as helping you keep your calories in check and contain loads of fiber.
2. Variety Is the Spice of Life
Being vegan doesn’t have to be boring. However, it is important to be creative and include variety in your diet. From beans, leafy greens and tomatoes to tofu, tempeh and seitan, there are plenty of vegan options that’ll help keep everything interesting.
3. Eat Whole Grains
Many people worry that going vegan will mean they fail to get enough vitamin B and iron into their diet. One way to eliminate this issue is to swap out refined grains such as white pasta and white bread for whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. What’s more, the extra fiber from these whole grains will help you stay fuller for longer and could even see you shedding a few pounds.
4. Don’t Assume Vegan Food Is Healthier
Technically, just eating vegan products won’t make you healthier. For instance, vegan cookies won’t necessarily be any better for your waistline than regular chocolate cookies. Processed vegan foods contain their fair share of fats like coconut oil or palm oil. Wherever possible, stick to natural foods such as fruit, nuts, whole grain chips, or avocados. This isn’t to say you aren’t allowed a treat once in a while; just don’t assume they are healthier because they are vegan.
5. Get Adventurous With Plant Based Proteins
While animal protein like meat and cheese tend to be high in unhealthy saturated fats, vegan protein can be a bit healthier. There really is a lot of variety out there. From Edamame, lentils and chickpeas to tempeh and tofu, you should find something that satisfies that protein craving.
While the vegan options on the market are definitely growing and more and more dedicated vegan restaurants are opening up all over the place, there is no better time to shift to veganism. However, it’s important to find ways to be creative and learn to adapt if you want to make this into a long term lifestyle change. Do your research and go in with those eyes wide open. The planet will thank you for it.