With growing concern about global warming, the need for everyone to make impactful changes is ever more important. While there are many ways to cut down your carbon footprint, the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advises plant-based diets as one of the best ways to tackle this issue. This comes as no surprise, with the meat and dairy industry accounting for around 14.5% of all greenhouse gasses. Research indicates that a global switch to veganism (in comparison to other types of diet) would yield the largest emissions savings, with each individual making their climate impact 10 to 50 times smaller. But your probably thinking “well that’s great, but how do I make the switch?”
While some find the transition easy, it can be a struggle for others. But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Our top 4 tips to making the switch will have you powering through the plant-based diet in no time.
So, What Exactly is Veganism?
Veganism is the practice of eating foods that are not derived from animals and do not use any other animal products. In essence, vegans avoid meat and will instead eat plant-based foods such as pulses, vegetables, and fruits. However, while veganism is often catered around diet, many vegans also choose to ditch animal-derived materials, products tested on animals, and places that use animals for entertainment. This often means switching to vegan leather, cruelty-free beauty products, and skipping the circus trips.
A 2019 survey commissioned by The Vegan Society indicated that there were an estimated 600,000 vegans in Great Britain, a number that has tripled since 2014!
Examples of non-vegan items/food:
- Gelatine Sweets
- Milk-based food
- Certain toothpaste and shampoos
Make a Meal Plan
Deciding what to eat can be a difficult task, even on a meat-based diet. It’s often the weigh-up between do I have the time? And is that actually nutritious? So, it’s understandable that cooking as a vegan newbie can feel extremely overwhelming. To lessen this feeling, we advise creating a meal plan, this way there’s no need to feel stressed on the day! Additionally, this will eliminate any concerns you have surrounding what you should and shouldn’t be eating as you can look up ingredients beforehand. We found the easiest way to start is to create a meal plan based on advice and recipes from others. While you could just go out and ask your vegan friends, another great way of finding inspiration is through online Pinterest boards. These are great for finding ideas that suit your palate, budget, and schedule. And, instead of searching for hours, recipes can easily be saved to your own Pinterest board for easy access.
As some may find it difficult to switch to veganism straight away, it may be a good idea to slowly implement veganism into your diet. This can be done by penciling in vegan days into your meal plan. And, when this feels comfortable, you may want to increase the days or decide to only eat meat when out of the house. It’s important to remember that fuelling your body is important and switching up your diet should not mean reducing your food intake!
Supplements and Substitution
While having a vegan diet can be beneficial to health (reducing blood pressure and fats), it can also mean that you’re missing out on certain nutrients that are not found in plant-based foods. While this might sound scary, this can be easily managed with the help of food supplements and the correct substitution. For example, you should still be getting enough protein, carbohydrates, fruit, and vegetables. Additionally, vegans should make sure they get enough calcium, B12, and iron. Although these can be found in foods, plant-based foods often do not carry the same amount as those derived from animals. As a result, we suggest looking into vitamin supplements. These can usually be found at your local pharmacy and may even come in a pill containing all three nutrients to reduce hassle.
If you’re a regular gym-goer, switching to a plant-based diet can be extremely beneficial to performance, with many experiencing an increase in energy and reduction in illness and injury. However, as exercise increases strain on the body and muscles, this should also be taken into consideration in your new diet. Often, exercise can reduce iron and protein levels, two food items that are difficult to get naturally in vegan diets.
A great way to supplement your protein is to use vegan protein powder. These may come in the form of pea protein, flaxseed, rice, or even pumpkin. Ingredient Optimized offers great natural vegan proteins which use ingredient-optimized technology. Their pea protein is 100% vegan, with a natural taste and no third-party ingredients. Additionally, their vegan protein powders are clinically proven to have the same power as non-vegan whey powder!
Iron supplements can be taken to increase iron stores. Additionally, the NHS suggests supplementing your meals with iron-rich foods such as:
- Dried fruit
- Cereals fortified with iron
If you’re feeling increasingly tired and lethargic, it may be a good idea to contact your doctor to get an iron panel done.
Check the Label
Being a vegan newbie in the supermarket can be a tough task. If you are used to going straight to the meat aisle, the shops can feel a bit like a never-ending maze. The best way to avoid aimless wandering is to have a clear idea of the items you want before entering the supermarket. Creating a clearly laid-out list ordered by category can make the whole process a lot smoother. We also advise checking in the vegan and frozen sections for meat-free protein alternatives. These may come in the form of tofu, tempeh, veggie chicken slices, or even meat-free sausages.
If you’re struggling to find out whether an item is vegan, you may want to look for the Vegan Society trademark. This consists of a green ‘vegan’ label with a flower and can easily tell you if your product is plant-based or not. If you’re not 100% sure, it may be a good idea to go home and research the product before purchasing.
Another great place to find sustainable vegan products is the health food store. This is often a great place to find nuts and dried goods with no plastic packaging!
Bin the Bad Beauty Products
Okay, well don’t bin them straight away… But once the product is all used up, it may be a good idea to check the label and decide whether the product should be repurchased. Often, beauty products are tested on animals and contain a number of animal-derived materials. For example, many creams contain whale blubber. A great way to check which brands are cruelty-free and vegan is to check online. Opt for smaller sustainable brands that use more natural ingredients.
Although making the switch to veganism can feel like an overwhelming task, taking small steps can still make a huge difference. It’s important to remember that your health should always come first and if you feel you’re not getting the right nutrients, it’s important to take a step back. Making sure you’re switching for the right reasons is also always a good idea.