November is World Vegan Month; Tips on How to become a Vegan

November is World Vegan Month; Tips on How to become a Vegan

Tips on How to Become a Vegan

November is World Vegan Month, which means that the six percent of vegans in America who celebrate Thanksgiving will likely enjoy a delicious tofurkey and a healthy spread of vegan casseroles, roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, whole grain breads and even pumpkin pie. The other 94 percent of Americans will devour a giant, tender Thanksgiving Day turkey, among many other meats, cheeses and desserts this holiday season.

Those indulgences can certainly add up though. Did you know that eight pounds is the average amount of weight most Americans gain during the holiday season? It is no surprise that ‘eating healthier and losing weight’ is a top New Year Resolution.

While the holiday season can be difficult to eat healthier, World Vegan Month may NOT be the ideal time to become a vegan, but it IS a great time to begin thinking about a lifestyle change for the New Year.

Whether it’s health reasons, religious based or even taste preferences, switching to a plant-based diet can be an overwhelming process for the majority of Americans accustomed to animal-based products.

Studies have shown that a vegan diet has many health benefits including better nutrients like higher fiber, iron, antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, folates, vitamins A, C, and E. A plant-based diet can also protect against many cancers and prevent chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Only 1 in 10 Americans consume the amount of fruits and vegetables needed, while vegans enjoy these foods in practically every meal. Many studies have also suggested that people have lost weight and even maintained it after becoming a vegan.

What is a vegan or a plant-based diet?

First things first, it’s important to fully understand a plant-based diet. It may sound simple but it can be complicated. A vegan diet eliminates meat and animal products, and replaces them with foods that are richer in certain nutrients like vegetables, beans, fruits, whole grains, peas, nuts and seeds. This means eliminating steak, burgers, chicken, bacon, turkey, pork, meat, fish, seafood and cheese, milk, eggs and even honey because they are made from animals.

Before you consider a plant-based lifestyle, it’s important to do your research and learn more about how to ensure you are still getting your nutrients, eating the right foods and planning accordingly. We suggest purchasing vegan-based recipe books and Pinterest to keep your diet delicious, fulfilling and creative so it does not become mundane or boring. Oh, and our blog has some delicious mushroom recipe ideas too so don’t forget about that one. 🙂

Read the labels – don’t be fooled!

There are many surprising foods that contain animal-based products so be sure to read labels. Be aware of ingredients like gelatin, which is made from cows and pigs and used to make puddings, marshmallows, candies and more. Bone char is used in some sugars and lard can be found in French fries and refried beans.

Make it a process.

Becoming a vegan or completely changing any diet is a huge lifestyle change that is a big adjustment for practically anyone. We suggest starting slowly by gradually eliminating animal-based foods and substituting them with plant-based instead. Perhaps focus on one meal at a time the first month –instead of that daily ham sandwich for lunch, substitute it with a big plate of plant-based pasta with sautéed shiitake or oyster mushrooms, asparagus and garlic. Once you start making small changes, the bigger changes become even easier and adjusting no longer seems like a big deal.

Be sure to get your nutrients.

An important rule to becoming vegan is to find alternative foods to substitute your animal-based diet to ensure you get your daily nutrients. For example, dairy is a great source of calcium, vitamins B12 and D, cold water fish like salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids, and so on. These animal products can be replaced with plant-based foods such as soy, vegan cheese, mushrooms, almond milk, beans, vegetables, whole-grains, fruit, and more so doing your research to ensure these nutrients are being fulfilled is key.

Get Enough Protein.

Soy, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein, and should be a focus of every plant-based meal.

Choose Your Carbs Carefully.

Be sure to get your carb intake from fruits, vegetables and grains. Processed carbs like white rice, white flour and even candy and juices may be considered vegan, but they do not have the right nutrients and can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

Meal Planning – Balance is Key.

When creating your vegan plate, find the right balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins like beans, peas, nuts and soy. Add salad or leafy greens and soy milk to get your calcium intake.

When dining out…

With more Americans opting for a plant-based diet, most restaurants continue to offer vegan options. If not, there are always ways to substitute. For example, simply hold the cheese on pizza and replace with vegetables. Salads loaded with beans and veggies are a simple way to enjoy a vegan meal. A mushroom burger is an awesome alternative to a beef burger! Eating Italian? No problem because pasta with a meat-free sauce is delicious and simple! Mediterranean is incredibly easy for vegans because of the many varieties from hummus, tabbouleh, falafel. So be sure to call ahead or check out the menu first and don’t be afraid to make a special request for a plant-based meal. You are likely not the first.

Enjoy your new plant-based lifestyle!

There are plenty of good reasons that so many people are choosing plant-based over animal-based. They seem to feel good and lead a healthier lifestyle overall. Did you know that a plant-based diet also helps the environment? Our number one tip is to switch to plant-based if it works for you and truly makes you happy. If you enjoy it, celebrate a better version of yourself during World Vegan Month and every month!