Welcome to veganism! I have been vegan/vego for over 15 years and am excited to share some tips with you!
1. Focus on Starches
It is easy to think that you can just remove the meat and animal products from your diet, and then decide to live off low calorie salad and vegetables. Unfortunately you will be so hungry all of the time that this veganism thing may not last long! If you base your meals around wholesome starches you will be full, satiated and bursting with energy – think brown rice, legumes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and other yummy wholegrains. If you need some more convincing about the value of starches and carbohydrates, please have a look at the work of Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Michael Gregor and have a read of The China Study. A diet based on starchy wholegrains (also low in fat and oil-free) is an amazing way to sustain or even regain your health!
2. Beans, beans and more beans
You know what this could mean! A slow and steady legume introduction might be the way to go if you are prone to bloating – a vegan/vegetarian diet has so much more amazing fibre in it that you will need to give your tummy and microbes some time to adjust! (The protein video below by Dr. Gregor also goes into the importance of fibre and a gradual increase).
I was so healthy when I become vegan all those years ago, and you know why? I had no choice! There were no vegan mock-food options in the grocery store, no options but healthy food when eating out, and I was happy with that. In recent years, industry has realized that veganism is on the rise and they should start producing food products for our niche. That is an amazing thing, as it has made veganism more accessible to everyone, and I’m sure it would make the transition easier to. The problem is, once your taste buds get used to all of these amazing mock meats and sausages, oil-based margarine, and cheeze, they start to become the basis of your meals. I found these convenience foods creeping into my weekly shopping, and unsurprisingly my health declined dramatically! While good for an occasional treat, please consider how processed these foods are – the body is just not designed to deal with a diet so high in chemicals, preservatives, emulsifiers and oil (oil is also highly processed and contributes to arterial damage and heart disease, please see this article by Dr. John McDougall)
4. Let go of the Protein Obsession
As many plant-based doctors say, you cannot become protein deficient unless you are not eating enough calories! A diet based on wholegrains, fruit and veg is more than adequate as protein is in everything! I couldn’t believe it either, that is the whole reason that I reached for mock meats, and an excessive amount of nuts in the first place. Actually, a diet too high in protein can put an increased load on your poor kidneys. See this video below by Dr. Gregor:
5. Lead By Example
As much as we all want everyone to become vegan, save the animals, save the planet and improve global health, shoving your views down your loved one’s throats is just going to make things worse. Lead by example, be the best vegan you can be - a compassionate, healthy one! All of the benefits of a plant based diet will be advertisement enough - clear skin, energy, guilt-free eating, and knowing you are reducing your carbon footprint. When your friends finally ask you to explain veganism and show them all of the amazing food you’ve been eating, that is when you can introduce them to this wonderful world.