Even if you are partially vegetarian at this point in your life, it can appear to be an enormous step to go to a full vegan diet and leave the meat-loving world behind. Fully vegan means giving up eggs, fish, chicken, and meats of any kind. The transition to full veganism, however, can be made without stress. Here are some tips for making the change if choosing a vegan diet is a choice you want to make.
Do Your Research
There are vitamins and minerals found in meats that are hard to replicate in a purely plant-based diet. So do your homework. Look at what you’ll need to maintain proper nutrition without having to fall back on animal-based foods. For example:
Omega 3s are extremely hard to acquire when you have a plant-based diet, but they are readily available in fish. Many plants that contain omega 3 fatty acids store it in a form that is hard for the body to convert into the form that is usable by the human body. So you’ll need to find plant substitutes that give you the right amount of omega-3s – without an excess of omega 6 fats, which may lead to inflammation.
Vitamin B12 can be another challenge. Because it’s derived from animal products including fish, meat, poultry, egg and milk products, and is generally not present in plant foods, over time vegans can develop serious deficiencies which can result in anemia or even nervous system damage. Again, do your research, and talk to your doctor, as you’ll need to incorporate a source of supplemental B12 into your diet, and may want to test your B12 levels periodically as you adjust to your new lifestyle. The most accurate testing method, for a number of reasons, is probably methylmalonic acid (MMA) testing.
“B12 is the only vitamin that is not recognised as being reliably supplied from a varied wholefood, plant-based diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, together with exposure to sun.”
Begin At Home
Plan your departure from the animal-consuming world carefully. You may find it extremely difficult to drop meat products entirely outside of your home, but it can be done. However, the first thing to do is address the problem on the home front. Cut out (or cut back) your remaining animal-based products. Cheese? There are alternatives such as soy-based faux cheeses. Milk? Almond milk is a healthy substitute, especially if you make it fresh at home. Start by planning your meals around eliminating meat products. You may find it helpful to make one meal each day purely vegan. So for breakfast you can include milk with your oatmeal and at lunch you can have eggs. But at dinner time, you are on a purely vegetable and fruit-based meal plan.
Build New Habits Around Your New Vegan Diet
Quitting “cold turkey” is not helpful, no pun intended. Make changes gradually. So, for example, you could arrange for two or three meals a week to be purely vegan, and every two weeks add another. This way, your transition to a vegan diet can take place over several weeks or even months, getting your body and mind used to the change. By the time you reach the point where you have eliminated animal products entirely, you will barely notice that final step. In fact, you may find that it becomes easier to eliminate the last of the animal products included in your diet because you’re used to preparing vegan foods and adding animal products is no longer habitual – and therefore takes extra work you never noticed before.
Involve Friends And Family
You can’t help but have meals with family members and friends outside your home. So make sure they understand the change you are making. While some may take issue with your choice to adopt a full vegan diet, you may find that most of your friends and family are encouraging, or at least neutral and not inclined to hinder your progress.