The vegan diet is based on plant proteins only, and omitting animal products. There are some negative beliefs about not eating animal products, based on the thought that you won’t get enough proteins or certain vitamins. The truth is, it is entirely possible to eat and be healthy this way. It just takes some knowledge, and careful planning.
This article will help you understand the rules, and what vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids are important to your body. You will also learn things that you need to watch out for.
Starting a vegan diet can be tricky. You will want to know what not to eat, and the best foods to eat to get the most nutrition. The main dietary rule with vegans is to avoid:
Now that you know what vegans avoid, here are the steps on how to become vegan and safely ensure that you get all the foods you do need:
Before you just jump into a total animal product free diet, try going vegan first. To do this, you will just eliminate meat from your diet. Still, include things like; milk, cheese, eggs, and even fish (pescatarian). In this way, you don’t throw your body into total shock. Then, you can slowly trade one animal product for plant based items that contain the same nutrients. Vegan diet includes:
When you start your vegan diet, write what you need from the list above. write all the plant based sources (we will give you some in the next section, but do further research on more things that contain all the needed nutrients), then journal the foods you eat each day. Go over your diary and make sure you are getting something from each needed food group.
It is important to let your doctor know that you are thinking of going on a vegan diet. This is especially important if you have any health conditions that may be affected. You may need some baseline testing for things like; vitamin B12 levels, iron, and BMI (Body Mass Index). Some people, as a matter of fact, most people that go on a vegan diet do lose some weight in the beginning.
Many animal products may be hiding in packaged and processed foods. If you are going to be on a very strict vegan diet, you need to know where these things are hiding. Animal products that may be used in processing foods include; L-cysteine (bagels, breads -derived from feathers/hair), gelatin (animal collagen), casein (milk protein), bone char (sugar), lard (animal fat in refried beans), castoreum (beaver pheromone in vanilla flavoring).
You will also want to read food labels to make sure they include the nutrients you need. With a vegan diet, you will want to avoid empty calories and make every bite count for your daily needs.
This can be a really fun and interesting part of “how to become vegan.” Trying new things may be hard on your taste buds at first, but you can develop a taste for any new foods that you try after eating them a few times.
Every little bit of information on foods to eat as a vegan helps. The list below includes the necessary amino acids to form complete proteins, and sources of other nutrients you may need. While this list is not complete, it will help you get a good start:
9 Essential Amino Acids/Proteins
The complete proteins that you get from eating meat and animal products are actually made up of 9 building blocks for proteins, or amino acids. You can get all 9 amino acids needed to build protein from these sources:
Many sources will say that you cannot get vitamin B12 in a plant based diet. There actually are a few sources, or you could supplement, if needed. Here are some sources of vitamin B12:
Zinc can be an issue with vegetarian and vegan diets. Meat and animal products are rich in zinc, but this mineral can be taken in supplements or by eating increased amounts of certain things like:
Cutting dairy may make it harder to get the calcium you need, but not impossible. There are some plant based foods that contain smaller amounts of calcium, you just need to eat extra of these things each day:
This is one of the bigger subjects that gets addressed with vegans and vegetarians. When learning how to become vegan, it is common to forget iron containing foods. Be sure to include some: