More and more of us are choosing to adopt a plant-based diet for the good of the planet, its animals and our health. Whether you’ve decided to ditch meat, fish, dairy – or are a veteran vegan already, there are many obstacles that can make committing to a plant-based diet trickier than it needs to be. Read on to discover how to swerve these obstacles and make the most of your plant-powered lifestyle!
The Power of Plants
What was once seen as a temporary trend is now recognised as one of the most healthiest and ethical diet. Unlike the common myth, pledging plant-based isn’t about sacrificing all of your worldly pleasures – it’s about finding tasty, healthy and cruelty-free alternatives. This article explores five common stumbling blocks that most of us experience when following a vegan diet, and what you can do to overcome them.
1. Taking on Too Much, Too Soon
Food plays a huge role in our lives – it brings us pleasure, health and even longevity. So making a major change to your diet, like going vegan, shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Following an over-indulgent festive period, so many of us fall into the New-Year cycle of taking on more than we can chew, literally! With high expectations and unrealistic goals, peaked motivation can soon dive down and leave you wallowing in defeat. In fact, a large majority of those who give up all animal products for Veganuary revert back to their non-vegan diet after a few months !
So instead of diving in head-first, dip a toe in the water and embrace your humble veg-innings! Start off slow, try introducing only one new vegan dish every few days and gradually build-up your repertoire of recipes. By planning your meals and keeping the cupboards stocked with plant-based produce, you won’t get overwhelmed or caught-out – preparation is key!
2. Falling Victim to Misleading Marketing
The increase in so-called vegan products in the UK was around 185% between 2012 and 2016 and is only set to rocket further. But venture out of the free-from aisle and you’ll find fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, legumes, milks, and much more that are all, well, vegan!
Many newbies make the mistake of stuffing their shopping baskets with anything form the free-from aisle, reassured by the fancy ‘V’ emblem on each package – this can become very expensive, very soon ! Lots of foods are vegan-friendly, even if they’re not advertised as vegan!
Buying your own plant-based produce and cooking from scratch is a sure-fire way to make sure you’re not only eating vegan but eating well. What’s more, you’ll probably save a fortune – investing in your finances as well as your health!
3. Giving in to Confusing Cravings
Common cravings for vegans emerge from missing the distinctive taste and texture of foods such as meat and eggs. The food industry has evolved over the past decade or so to produce many vegan-friendly alternatives that mimic these properties very well. If you find it hard to control your cravings, then focus on gradually replacing your meat and eggs, with their vegan alternatives, with the aim to eventually only have a healthy plant based diet.
When following a vegan diet you’ll also quickly learn that the processed food we sometimes crave is usually out of bounds, as most contains some form of egg. The good news is that by packing in processed food you’ll automatically reduce your intake of a whole load of nasty anti-nutrients – namely sugar. But some of these are extremely addictive so it may take your body a while to adjust without them, especially if you’ve been munching mince pies and guzzling gingerbread lattes for the past six weeks!
So, to keep on top of cravings, make sure you have plenty of plant-based treats to hand. Things such as dried fruit, smoothies, sorbets, nut butters and raw vegan snack bars will all give you a sweet fix to curb those cravings.
4. Neglecting Your Nourishment
Plant-based foods are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – but some essential nutrients are not as widely available. So, eating a plant-based diet does not automatically lead to better health. The British Dietetic Association has acknowledged that a well-planned vegan diet can support healthy living in people of all ages. But this well-planned business is paramount!
Research has shown that many women in UK (vegan and non vegan) are deficient in the following nutrients. Follow the links to find out why and be sure to include some of the suggested foods to boost your levels of each.
- Fibre – Find me in: Peas, Lentils, Beans, Cruciferous Vegetables, Berries
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Find me in: Flaxseeds, Chia Seeds, Walnuts, Algae Supplements
- Protein – Find me in: Tofu, Beans, Legumes, Lentils, Chickpeas, Nutritional Yeast, Nuts
- Vitamin B12 – Find me in: Spirulina, Chlorella, Nutritional Yeast
- Vitamin D3 – Find me in: Fortified foods, Mushrooms (PS: Your body can make its own during the summer months!)
- Calcium – Find me in: Tofu, Sesame Seeds, Tahini, Legumes, Dried Fruit
- Iron – Find me in: Green Veg, Nuts, Seeds, Quinoa, Tofu
As you can see, you need to eat a whole variety of foods, not just vegetables, to meet your requirements. In the modern world with too much to do and not enough time, this can be difficult. It is advisable that when needed vegan women should take supplements to provide a safety net for their diet and prevent deficiency. The best supplements use natural, organic ingredients and provide a spectrum of nutrients – not just one or two.
5. Inadvertently Harming the Environment
Pledging plant-based is one of the best things you can do for animal welfare, the planet and your own health. Needless to say, a plant-based diet will be packed with fruit and veg. Whilst this is great for our health, the food industry will always prioritise cost-cutting above all else and unfortunately this means that many fruits and vegetables are grown in an unsustainable way.
Supply chains geared towards driving costs down result in farming practices that harm the environment. Methods such as mono-cropping and using pesticides and herbicides can destroy habitats and deplete soil of nutrients. They also introduce toxins into the food chain which are harmful to health.
The solution is either buying local or supporting shops and businesses which use organic ingredients in their products. Choosing Soil association certified organic food will make sure your food is free from harmful toxins, as well as support wildlife, sustainability and natural ecosystems. Fruit and veg are the heart of a plant-based diet, so make sure they’re the best they can be!
There you go, those are the 5 most common mistakes most new vegans make. I hope that you have gained some knowledge and inspiration from this blog that will help you to stay a happy and healthy vegan! We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments so don’t be shy! Next time we will look at "Vegan nutrition in a nutshell", so keep a watch out for our next blog post in about a week’s time !