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10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BECOMING VEGAN
Paleo, pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan you name it! Many new life styles surrounding food have surged and we are lucky enough to live in a time where many restaurants and markets have managed to accommodate such diets. I myself have been vegan for a year now and even though it has been an amazing change for my health, there were certain things I had to consider before deciding to fully cut out animal products from my day-to-day life.
Here are 10 things to consider before becoming vegan:
1. Define the reason(s) as to why you want to change your eating habits. Whether it is because of personal health, the environment, or your morals and feelings toward animals it is important to keep this in mind. Switching from eating meat to completely cutting out animal products is challenging so having your purpose in mind really helps you remember why you started doing this in the first place.
2. Get a general health check up. When I decided to be vegan, I immediately made an appointment with my nutritionist/health coach. I wanted to make sure that all of my nutrients, cholesterol and sugar levels were healthy. I recommend taking a blood test and/or visiting your primary care doctor or if you have a nutritionist, paying them a visit!
3. Avoid doing anything cold turkey! After having animal products for X amount of years, it is incredibly difficult to simply cut out all products from one day to another. This is why I would suggest doing the following: during the first 2 weeks, do 2 days of your regular diet and 1 day of no animal products and so on. During the 3rd week, try switching the diets every other day; one day your regular animal product diet and the other no animal products. During the 4th week try doing 2 days of no animal products and another day of animal products. Finally, try doing the 5th week of absolutely no animal products.
4. Listen to your body. As you are doing these 5 weeks of transition, it is imperative that you listen to your body. Some diets aren't for everyone, and that is okay! If you start feeling tired, faint, dizzy, and without any energy, then it might be time to find other eating habits. When I started being vegan, I told myself that if I didn't feel well during the first few days/weeks of full veganism, that I would change right back to my pescatarian diet. If, on the other hand, you feel energetic, happy, and nourished, then this might be the right decision for you!
5. B-12 Supplement. This point is related to the 2nd point. There are a few natural vitamins that come from animal products such as the B-12 vitamin. This vitamin plays a role in the production of red blood cells as well as helping your nervous system function. A deficiency in this isn't good for your body so it is super important that once you do start your vegan diet, that you purchase B-12 as a supplement.
6. Follow up with your health check ups. It is important to do follow up appointments with either your primary care or your nutritionist. Since, ideally, they saw you before starting your journey towards veganism, they will have a good way of comparing your overall health after you have been vegan for a little bit. They will let you know if there are any levels that are either too high or low or if you need any other forms of supplements.
7. Find your sources of protein. Make sure to eat lots plant-based protein such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, spirulina, and quinoa among others. There are also vegan protein powders in case you feel like you need it especially as a pre or post work out drink.
8. Remember, sugar and carbs are vegan. If your purpose for becoming vegan is more health related, remember that sugar and carbs are vegan. A lot of people think that because they are eating a plant-based diet, it will automatically make them healthier. You have to replace your meats with lots of veggies and greens and not as many carbs. Also, just because a brownie is vegan doesn't mean that it is healthier, remember sugar is vegan!
9. You do you! Many people will not agree with your choice of eating lifestyle. Some will ask where you get your protein from (because they assume the only source of protein is from animals) and others will question your reasons as to why you chose this lifestyle. This is part of our world, so what you need to do is focus on yourself and understand that your lifestyle choice is just as good as any one else's. You do you!
10. Go find some delicious vegan recipes or restaurants! We are lucky enough to live in a time where there are so many options for those of us who choose to eat a little bit different. So go crazy and find those Pinterest recipes that inspire you and those hidden gems of restaurants that offer plant-based options. Eating a vegan diet can be really fun, so go enjoy it!
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