If it did, that’s really exciting! I am a huge fan of plant based diets, and recommend that most of my clients start eating less animal protein in favour of more plants. Generally you find yourself feeling much more energetic and enthusiastic after the switch to a plant-based diet, largely because you eat more fruit and vegetables. One client told me her fruit and veg intake has more than doubled!
Plant based diets also tend to contain less saturated fat, which is related to increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of heart disease. Making the change is exciting, especially as you start experimenting with ingredients you’ve never used before, or sometimes never even heard of – like nooch or seitan, with amazing culinary results (some of the time!)
If you do decide to follow a vegan diet, I recommend that you apply all the same principles that you would to any healthy balanced diet: eat plenty of different fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, pulses etc. It is also vital that you are aware of the nutrients you are at risk of developing a deficiency for, and supplement accordingly (see below).
If you are thinking of making the change as a family, it is VITAL that you contact a qualified nutritional therapist to guide you, as children are very vulnerable to deficiencies. Whether your goal is to be completely vegan, or just more plant based, here are 3 really important things that I’d like to share with you before you make the leap. I hope you find it useful.
Don’t fill up on processed foods – If you’re becoming a vegan for ethical reasons, that’s really admirable, and a common reason for people making this life change. BUT …you need to ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of buying processed vegan foods to replace meat. Often they have really high levels of salt and other nasties which aren’t good for you – if you solely rely on processed food.
However, there are lots of ways to have a nutritional diet and be a vegan. To do this, you have to accept that this huge change in the way you’re fueling your body means really thinking about a vegan diet plan – doing lots of reading and research and preparing foods, sometimes from scratch, that offer everything you need to stay healthy. This is especially important for children who need the same kind of protein and vitamins which you’d find in a piece of meat. If you do this, you’re more likely to stick to your new vegan lifestyle, and stay well. Here are my top vegetarian sources of protein for you to think about.
Create a new repertoire – Having some ‘go to’ recipes in your locker (or larder!) will take the thinking out of mealtimes. You don’t want veganism to become a chore. I have total respect and admiration for you doing this, but I also understand that many people new to veganism will fall off the wagon because it’s can be hard work. If you’re someone who thinks a lot about what they eat now, you’ll be shocked at how much time and energy you’ll spend on planning meals – at least to start with.
To help you stick with it, here are some simple, delicious vegan recipes to get you started. Why not dedicate a weekend to trying them out? You could batch cook and freeze your food to make vegan meals a piece of cake …and yes, vegan cake is easy to make and gorgeous too!
Supplement your diet – Eating real food, rather than supplements, is a much better way to keep your body healthy. So, I would encourage you to replace any nutrients lost by removing meat and dairy from your diet, by looking into where you can find these in plant-based foods.
However, if you need to take supplements for any reasons, please consider that …
Not all supplements are equal – the amount, and quality of vitamins and minerals found in different brands can vary hugely. In fact, the way in which a supplement is made can make a massive difference to how well the nutrients are absorbed and used by your body.
For instance, supplements with a high level of artificial colours and flavours are not great for your liver. And cheaper supplements, particularly tablets which require more processing to make it easy to swallow, can contain fillers and additives that may do more harm to your health than any nutritional benefit the pill can supply.
My advice would be, read the label. If there is a long list of weird sounding ingredients which you don’t recognise the name of, don’t buy it.
I was asked to speak on ITV West Country News last week about this topic – you can take a look at it here.
Good luck with your vegan diet plan! If I can support you in any way, or answer your questions on vegan nutrition please book a complimentary call with me. I’d love to help you.