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What You Should Know Before Going Vegan

written by Vidya Sury January 12, 2017
Going vegan?Here's what you should know.

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Veganism is a way of life that involves a plant-based diet , avoiding all animal foods such as meat—this includes fish, insects, shellfish—dairy, eggs and honey, and also products tested on animals. The idea is to do away with cruelty to animals for food, clothing and anything else. People choose to be vegan for health, environmental, and/or ethical reasons.

In fact, with its increasing popularity, each year, Vegan Day is observed on 1st November . It is a day to celebrate vegans, who stand up for animal rights and choose to eliminate animal products from their lives.

If you are wondering what vegans eat, they have quite an exciting and flavorful diet. It is diverse and rich in fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, beans and pulses. As a vegetarian myself, I know how versatile these ingredients are, and can be prepared in endless combinations. One thing you’ll never be is bored. Whether it is curry or cake, pasties or pizzas, just about anything can be made the vegan way with plant-based ingredients.

Planning to go vegan?

Here are 3 things you should know.

1. You may need a Vitamin B12 and Iron supplement

Vitamin B12 is naturally found in animal foods, so as a vegan, you may need B12 fortified foods and supplements. You need B12 to keep the nervous system and blood cells healthy, while keeping your DNA production going. Sign of a B12 deficiency are tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss (the bad kind), nerve problems, and depression. Check with your doc about what to do.

We get our iron in two forms: heme and non heme. Heme from animal foods is quickly absorbed by the body. In a vegan diets, only non-heme iron is available and this is not absorbed as easily. So you may need to check with your doc about iron supplements. Good vegan iron sources are legumes, sunflower seeds, dried raisins, and dark, leafy greens.  Since Vitamin C helps with iron absorption, include red peppers, citrus, and broccoli in your diet.

2. Read that label

Becoming vegan means seriously reading food labels to verify ingredients. For example, Casein and whey, which come from milk, are present in many cereal bars, breads, and granolas, while gelatin and tallow or suet,  are derived from meat. Some food colors are extracted from female beetles. So do the research before you go shopping.

3. Find new protein sources

Proteins are the building blocks of life and must be part of every meal. They promote cell growth and repair cells. Based on your daily requirement, consider vegan protein sources such natural soy, lentils, beans, quinoa, and seitan. But go easy on the soy-based products since the jury is still out there about the effects of soy on cancer and heart health.  It is not a good idea to consume too much soy-based meat substitutes as they are usually highly processed and have high sodium and preservatives. So yes, read that label. If you have to eat soy, look at miso, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, and edamame.

Remember not to go after junk food in your quest to replace animal products. It can be easy to reach for white bread and pasta, and other packaged foods since you’re trying to avoid meat, so watch out. Make the switch to veganism gradually, by increasing the plant-based foods in your diet a little at a time and cut back on animal products. Gradual changes are likelier to stick.

One thing is for sure, you will feel happier for becoming vegan, and so will those animals. And the good news is, you don’t have to avoid eating out. With its increasing popularity, there are many vegan restaurants out there. There is also no dearth of many vegan recipes Here are three interesting recipes to try:

Let’s get this vegan party started!

A vegan party means going AYCE!

All You Can Eat.

That’s right! Naturally this has to be a buffet party.

Vegan sushi

Going vegan?Here's what you should know.

Here is the recipe for Vegetarian Sushi Rolls with Quinoa Sticky Rice. You’re thinking, sushi is essentially fish, but let me tell you these veggie rolls are just as tasty, dip them in soy sauce and you won’t even notice the difference. Check out these  Vegan recipes here!

Vegan Appetizer

Going vegan?Here's what you should know.

The Beer-batter Onion Rings recipe I found was a great alternative to the regular milk and egg fried ones. Of course you must skip the mayonnaise and sour cream sauce and instead go for mustard and agave syrup (instead of honey) dip. You’ll be surprised how delicious these crispy wonders are.

Vegan Dessert Recipes

Going vegan?Here's what you should know.

Of course, a buffet must have a dessert dish, and for this occasion, the most appropriate dessert is  the Vegan Chocolate Lava Cake. No dairy free dessert can come even close to these luscious cakes. They truly are the definition of YUM.

So there you are! Don’t get so caught up with the rules! Going vegan may be easier than you imagine! It goes without saying that if you have a pre-existing health condition, consult your doctor before making any lifestyle and diet changes!

Stay healthy!

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