TIPS FOR SWITCHING TO A VEGAN DIET
Nutritional Science Student
There are many reasons why people (want to) eat a vegan diet.
The most important if them may be that it has ethical, but also health or environmental aspects.
No matter what the trigger is, switching your entire diet to a plant-based one overnight is not always easy.
With that in mind, to make the transition easier for you, here are some tips that can make getting started with a vegan diet easier:
Table Of Contents.
Reasons To Eat Vegan
What Can Vegans Actually Still Eat?
Substitute Products Benefit
Some Ideas Of What To Eat For Breakfast
And What Does A Vegan Eat For Lunch Or Dinner?
Don’t Be Too Strict With Yourself
1 – Reasons To Eat Vegan.
First of all, it is helpful to understand “why” of a vegan diet. Having a strong reason makes it easier to stay on the ball. As mentioned at the beginning, every person has their own motivation for a diet free from animal products. There is a range of documentation that can be helpful in understanding motivations, which are presented to you below.
Check it out some TV Documentaries that covers environmental protection through veganism:
These TV Documentaries covers animal welfare aspect behind a vegan diet:
And these films below show the health benefits of a vegan diet:
“What the Health”
“Forks over Knives”
“Fat, sick and nearly dead”
It is worth watching these films to get a rough idea of the positive effects veganism can have. Regardless of what your motivation is, you are also doing the environment, the animals and your own health a favor at the same time.
2 – What can vegans actually still eat?
Eating vegan means avoiding animal products. All types of meat and sausage products, milk (products), eggs and honey are eliminated. Unfortunately, vegan foods are hidden in many ready-made products, and especially at the beginning you often have to read through the list of ingredients to determine whether a product is vegan or not. The question now rightly arises:
What can I still eat then?
Fortunately, there are many staples that are vegan anyway. These include potatoes, cereals and many cereal products such as flour, cereal flakes or semolina
Fruits and vegetables are vegan from the ground up and should also be consumed on a daily basis. Choosing a variety of ways here not only prevents boredom on the plate, but also a vitamin and mineral deficiency.
In addition, legumes such as lentils, beans and peas are part of a vegan diet. When combined correctly, these are a good source of protein and often the basis of vegan substitute products. Nuts and seeds are also vegan and good sources of nutrients for e.g. calcium.
Due to their high nutrient density, these food groups should form the basic structure of a wholesome diet.
Vegan seals also make it easier to choose foods.
In developed countries, Nutrition Societies like the German (DGE) will give out recommendations of what is the basis of a wholesome and plant-based die. They may also print out seals on vegan products.
Thanks to these seals, vegan products can be easily and quickly identified without having to study the list of ingredients. Many manufacturers now also print “vegan” on food packaging.
There are also various apps that can be used to scan the bar-code of a food item. The app then shows directly whether a food is vegan. In addition, some of these apps also have functions that provide information about the added health benefits of the ingredients.
One such app is, for example, “Codecheck”, with which not only food but also cosmetics can be checked for ingredients.
Shopping guides from vegans or established platforms can also be helpful.
For example, “Peta Zwei” has both an app and a website: https://www.petazwei.de/einkaufsguide on which a large number of vegan products are presented in the individual supermarkets and discounters sorted by food category.
But, a vegan diet does not have to mean doing without!
Above is an excerpt from vegan shopping: vegan staple foods such as tofu and fruit, as well as ready-made meals such as vegan Piccolinis.
3 – Substitute products benefit.
You have probably come across vegan substitute products while shopping in the supermarket. Whether vegan “cheese”, breaded schnitzel based on tofu instead of pork or almond milk, there is hardly any animal food that has not already been veganized.
Substitute foods are available based on different plant-based foods: meat substitutes are often made from soy, peas or wheat gluten, vegan cheese, in turn, is often based on almonds or other nuts and vegan milk alternatives are based on various types of grain such as oats, spelled or rice, as well like almond or nut based.
The rule here is: just try it out and find out what tastes best for you. Not every substitute product has the right to taste like the animal original, but especially in the transition phase from an omnivorous to a vegan diet, it can be very helpful to replace familiar foods with a vegan alternative.
To make it even easier for you, you can of course always use vegan ready meals. From vegan pizza to plant-based burgers, pasta dishes or frozen bowls, in most supermarkets you will find a large selection of plant-based ready-made meals that you can try out. These are a welcome alternative, especially in stressful times when there is no time or desire to cook new recipes.
If you want to be in control of what’s in your food, you can also make a lot of foods yourself. There is an incredible variety of recipes for, for example, vegan cashew-based cream cheese, cheesecake with soy yogurt or burger patties made from legumes.
Above is an example of vegan mini burgers, with homemade buns and burger patties based on kidney beans and oatmeal. At the beginning, familiarize yourself with a few vegan recipes, which fit into your everyday life and which you like to eat and cook.
In this way you can slowly build up your repertoire and you won’t be immediately frustrated because otherwise you get the feeling that you can’t eat anything except salad.
4 – Energy supply.
Plant foods generally have a lower calorie density than animal foods. If you eat 100 g of cucumber, you will take in 16 kcal, with 100 g of oat flakes you will take in 350 kcal. On the other hand, 100 g cheese has around 400 kcal, depending on the type. In order to meet your energy needs with a vegan diet, you will in most cases have to eat larger amounts in order to stay full and satisfied.
When I was still living in a shared apartment, I had a roommate who, after watching a documentary, decided to become vegan. Said roommate was 2 meters tall and, because he was on the move all day due to his work, an energy requirement of over 3,500 kcal.
On some days his lunch consisted of a 250g bowl of tomatoes. With these he comes to 45 kilocalories, which is only a tiny fraction of his actual energy requirement. After a few weeks of vegan nutrition following this example, he noticed that he had lost too much weight due to the high energy deficit and gave up the vegan diet.
Such situations can easily be avoided by informing yourself about a balanced vegan diet and not eating one-sidedly.
One way to avoid such situation is to check the “Peta Vegan Food Pyramid”:
This information is particularly helpful as a rough guideline for getting started in order to avoid nutrient and energy deficits.
5 – Gentle entry.
Changing your own diet often means trying new things. So that you are not frustrated after a few weeks, it makes sense not to change your diet by 180 ° overnight. Throwing your own habits overboard and replacing them with new ones can seem like a huge obstacle and quickly lead to excessive demands.
One way to avoid this is to start by replacing only individual meals with vegan ones. Take the meal that is the most stress-free for you. As soon as you have a base of dishes for this meal, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, which you like and which can be easily integrated into your everyday life, you can start veganizing the next meal. This will avoid boredom or the feeling of not knowing what to eat.
6 – Some ideas of what to eat for breakfast.
Porridge with fruits and nuts, peanut butter or chia seeds is a healthy and filling breakfast option. If you want it to be quick, you can also prepare these as overnight oats the evening before.
Another option are smoothies, which you can mix yourself according to your own ideas. There are no limits to your creativity: fruit such as bananas, berries or mango, vegetables such as kale or spinach, pumpkin seeds, oat flakes, hemp seeds, nut butters, milk alternatives, … everything that tastes good is allowed. You can find smoothies ready-made in every supermarket as an option for days when time is short.
Soy yogurt with nuts and fruits is a great way to cover the macro-nutrients of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, as well as vitamins and minerals.
For a hearty breakfast, bread rolls are an uncomplicated choice, they can be prepared with vegan spreads such as hummus or sausage and cheese alternatives, as well as with avocados, vegetables and various toppings.
Of course, there are also endless possibilities for those with a sweet tooth, such as vegan waffles, pancakes or crepes.
7 – And what does a vegan eat for lunch or dinner?
If you want to replace lunch or dinner first, you are spoiled for choice here too.
From quick pasta with tomato sauce to which you can make a salad to cover important vitamins and minerals.
Below delicious bowls with rice, tofu and vegetables.
There are also endless options for curries, stews, soups or salads like this quinoa salad:
Also, eating out is no longer a problem for vegans either. Most restaurants these days have several vegan dishes on the menu.
And even if that is not the case, if you ask nicely about it, you will always be happy to veganize animal dishes yourself, such as this delicious vegetable pizza.
The ultimate vegan food, which you can get almost everywhere, still remains:
French fries. Whether in the normal or sweet potato variant, prepared at home or on the go, fries save vegans all over the world.
Finally, a tip to make it easier for you to get started with a vegan diet.
8 – Don't be too strict with yourself.
Especially at the beginning it happens that we do not pay too much attention to what is in the food we eat and thus we may unintentionally consume some animal products by mistake. That doesn’t have to mean that you should throw your project right now. Just start vegan with the next meal and learn from your slips.
As soon as you notice the positive effects of the vegan diet, you won’t want to go back.
You can use the tips in this post as a guide, and seek help from experienced vegans and grow from your own experiences.
Good luck with your transition and don’t forget to have fun!