Deciding to switch your diet is one of the hardest things to do in the long term but can also be one of the strongest levers you can pull to improve your health. I am not talking crash diets for a few weeks here just to drop a few pounds for that big night out coming up. Anyway I digress here, back to your decision to go vegan. I was vegan / plant based for a number of years, and these are my top 3 things to watch out for.
- Get really clear on your “whys”
- Why are you removing all food that is derived from animals from your diet? Write this down.
- What do you believe are the benefits of doing this?
- Is that belief supported by scientific studies or is it mostly coming from social media influencers?
- Vegan goes beyond the food and shuns the use of all products made from animals e.g. leather. Are you going vegan for the diet only or are you going beyond the food?
- Are you doing this to improve your own health or for animal welfare or both? Which one is more important to you – own health or animal welfare?
- I suggest writing down the answers to all of these questions, which will force you to think through your reasons.
- Don’t announce your decision on Day 1
- Once you announce that you are now a vegan and will only consume plant based foods exclusively, people will cross examine your food plate every time you sit down for a meal or are out a social event.
- This can create a lot of pressure on you to ensure that you only ever have non animal based foods on your plate.
- Removing things like cheese and bacon can be really hard to do and it can take time for those cravings to subside.
- I suggest easing into this approach by allow a grace period where you reduce your animal food intake at the same time as increasing your plant based foods.
- Cooking is a skill that requires practice and cooking plant exclusive foods is a learning curve where you will encounter foods that you have never heard off e.g. seitan, tofu, tempeh, teff, amaranth, buckwheat, nutritional yeast. These skills and tastes take time to acquire.
- Go vegetarian first
- Vegetarianism is a great step to take for your health on it’s own but it is also a great stepping stone to veganism if that is your ultimate destination.
- Many people take this route as vegetarianism is a softer landing where dairy, eggs and honey for example are included but meat, fish, poultry are removed.
- Going the vegetarian route first allows you time to adjust to these food replacements. Remember alot of what we eat is habit and habits take time to form and change.
If you do choose to go vegan, for whatever reasons, I wish you the very best. It is a fantastic dietary choice that I believe will improve your health and the health of the planet, but it is not an easy thing to adopt and maintain long term. I personally struggled with being 100% exclusively plant based over the years and these days I adopt a more flexible approach to food that works for me. We are all biologically unique beings, so while I would encourage people to try different approaches to find what works best for them, there is no one diet for everyone.