So you are thinking of switching over to Vegan? It is not as serious a decision as most people think it is. Now if your anything like me you probably hated the idea of Veganism at one point due to people you met that are vegan acting as if they walk on air because of their diet choices.
I want you to know right away, I am nothing like those individuals. I want you to be healthy and that is different depending on who you are. Do I believe adding a variety of plant elements to your diet is a good way of improving your health… Of course, I do however, I am not here to alter your destiny.
Only one in five vegans and vegetarians maintain their diet. This article is for the other 80%. Vegan Diet For Beginners- Just a Test Run is for those of you just sticking your toe in. I want the experience to be particular to you and one that you enjoy.
That way if you do decide it helps you and want to maintain it you have a good base and of course you can always come to me for help or guidance regardless of where your path takes you.
Making the Switch
A Vegan diet is nothing more complex than abstaining from eating animal products or by-products of any kind. Some of you may think like I do and wonder well if bees are needed to pollinate the majority of plants wouldn’t those crops essentially be a by-product of their intervention.
Were not going to take it that deep, but honey is off the table, as well as milk, cheese, all dairy products, eggs and of course all true meats. I saw true because there are vegan meats some being surprisingly delicious while others are… I guess different is the best word.
What I will tell you is whatever you think you are giving up there is a decent replica for on the other side. I know that firsthand. This means you will feel more like you are trying different variations of foods vs giving up certain ones you love.
This goes for all things except pastries. Unless you plan on becoming a do it yourself pastry chef at your house, the vegan pastry game is limited, at least in my experience. I’m a self-proclaimed pastry connoisseur and I don’t believe there are many delicious widely available pastries for Vegans, but pretty much everything else is a store near you.
To Health First
As a beginner I will assume you know absolutely nothing so if you do please don’t be offended. We will start with fruits and vegetables. These are the main components to a Vegan diet and they should encompass 70-80% of your diet however, I know the world we live in and the majority of Vegans I know eat terribly.
For some it’s not about health, it’s more the title of being vegan, or the saving of animals, so the actual variation or nutritional substance in their diet is not essential for them.
For you it will be of utmost importance. The only reason I felt a need to state this is because their are loopholes in everything. You can literally eat nothing but Oreos all day, non-stop and you would technically be on a Vegan diet. Yes Oreos are vegan!!! But, as a beginner I want you to follow a modicum of decorum when starting your vegan diet.
Think about your health vs just being a “Vegan”
Fruits and Vegetables are the first thing we will focus on. Try to have these encompass 50%-70% of your diet (Vegetables 2/3 Fruit 1/3), the latter would be better, but I am leaving room for you to try the many items available and for you to curb your cravings with the different alternatives.
You can of course do things the easy way and get a few bags of mixed frozen vegetables and a few bags of different frozen fruits, but I advise against that. You should always do anything that you try to the best of your ability, This way the results and benefits are increased exponentially and more importantly your not wasting time, Lifes the greatest resource.
I suggest you try fruits and vegetables you normally don’t have the opportunity too because of the many things that normally cloud your diet. This will be different for everyone which is why it caters to everyone. For some this main mean radishes (the bulbs and the greens), sweet potatoes, and kale, for others these could mean mung bean sprouts, kohlrabi, and swiss chard.
The same goes for fruit, instead of apples and oranges, maybe try jack fruit and grape fruit or instead of mangoes, papaya and the list goes on. There are so many options even just a local grocery stores let alone farmers markets and international food markets. Wherever you shop try the things you normally wouldn’t or choose not to.
If you have no idea try Vegan Diet Food List for suggestions, if you can’t find what your looking for there, you are not looking hard enough.
Also, try to encompass dark leafy greens daily they are very nutrient dense and essential to a Vegan diet for beginners.
This seems to happen to a lot of Vegans, especially beginners. Grains are something that are familiar and that familiarity generally leads to a lot of breakfast cereal, rice and oatmeal. Once again, although this technically means you are on a vegan diet, it will not give you the health benefits you are looking for.
Try a wide variety of grains and don’t use them as staples, they should merely be support staff to your fruits, vegetables and legumes.
The best part about grains is that they make you feel full especially after eating the essentials, for that I believe they can have a positive impact on a diet, but do not let them take over.
As with the fruits and vegetables, try grains you are not typically used to try some good ones would be barley, millet, wheat berries, wild rice, amaranth etc. Don’t get caught up in the same cycle as your previous diet.
These will deliver the majority of your protein. Take it from me, even on a Vegan diet you can get a plethora of protein from all the different natural sources you are consuming. This includes dark leafy greens, grains, legumes, plant based meats etc.
Without much effort I can get anywhere between 150-250 grams of protein daily. This is coming from someone who doesn’t really like to eat. Don’t let the somewhat true rumor about Vegans not getting enough protein fool you. 1 cup of split peas gives right around 50 grams of protein. Yes 50!
How much protein you get is a choice you have to make. Will you have a well-balanced diet, with a wide array of plant sources as I am explaining, or go the easy route and eat nothing but cookies, chips, rice and vegan junk food.
Good legumes to try are mung beans, split peas, adzuki beans, lentils etc. These are perfect for additions to any meal and or soups. You should incorporate them as often as possible.
Seeds and Nuts For Days
These will be great as additions to any meal you are eating to add a different texture as well as great snacks and are widely used in Vegan cuisine.
Most of the nuts and seeds can add a good deal of protein to just about anything if you need that boost. They can be added as nut/seed butter or just sprinkled on top or otherwise integrated into your meal. They are also great for curbing your appetite and as a snack.
Some good ones to try are pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds. pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, walnuts etc. There are so many to choose from so be sure to explore what is available to you and try them all.
Last but not Least
For Vegan beginners I think one of the most important aspects of trying a Vegan diet is knowing you really don’t have to give up much, you just have to try different variations of what you are used to.
I personally don’t think this is a good thing because I am a proponent of change and shocking the body and mind however, I have found most people don’t function well that way.
The mind is going to be your greatest obstacle in starting a new diet and this list will help keep it at bay.
For Dairy, you are going to want nut/rice/soy milk as your milk substitute. If you like whole milk or need something creamier get one of those alternative milks but with coconut milk added. It adds a thickness that most first timers enjoy.
If your a fan of scrambled eggs in the morning use extra firm tofu instead mashed up to mimic the texture, then add turmeric (color, flavor) nutritional yeast (taste) a little salt and pepper if you’d like and cook in a well oiled pan.
For yogurt cravings, try soy yogurt or coconut yogurt, they are great alternatives in come in regular form as well as a Greek version
Ice cream also has its replicas available, as sandwiches, popsicles, standard ice cream, chocolate covered bars etc.
Cookies- I generally go for the Vegan cookies at Trader joes, they are exceptional, back to nature has multiple types of vegan cookies available but not all of them are so read the box, Lenny and Larry have big soft vegan cookies.
Meat- Beyond meat has the best plant based meat products i have tried, tofurky has good choices, jack fruit is a good alternative, as is eggplant, seitan, quorn, tempeh, tofu are also all good choices. Season them appropriately or buy them seasoned and your good to go.
Cheese- There are a wide variety available and most are great alternatives. They mimic particular cheese so choose based on the flavor/texture you are looking for.
Pudding- Can be made using nut/rice/soy/coconut milk and chia seeds, let it sit in the refrigerator to gain its consistency and flavor how you won’t with chocolate, vanilla, fruit etc.
Honey- There are bee free honeys available, as well as agave, maple syrup etc.
Do not use these items as crutches but know they are there to help you if you do begin to get overwhelmed.
Starting a new diet is always difficult. You’re chartering new territories and you can’t really be prepared for the
unknown until you jump in it. This article should help you in the ways I couldn’t find help when I started.
Also understand mistakes are
made, don’t get down on yourself and remember the reasons you are
transitioning to this diet and let that be your focus and help you
Make sure fruit and vegetables make up 50-70% of your diet with veggies encompassing 2/3 of that percentage. Regarding all the plant based items, try things you haven’t had the opportunity to before or didn’t want to.
Try not to fall into the same cycle of your last diet and when you are feeling cravings of the past use the alternative list to curb your appetite.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them below
As Always, It was a Pleasure.
Stan -Founder Asparagus Tips