As of press time, a vegan presidential candidate is vying for the job. Cory Booker of New Jersey has been a practicing vegan since 2017, and though he doesn’t push his dietetic agenda, it’s a landmark for American politics. Once a fringe diet best associated with patchouli-scented youths attending Burning Man, growing concerns about genenitically modified meat products and uncouth treatment of farm animals has led to a vegan diet sprout in popularity. And like any diet, it comes with stereotypes; the careful Whole Foods shopper willing to shell out an exorbitant amount of money for asparagus water (literally just water with the vegetable soaking inside of it).
Much has been touted about the health benefits of a vegan diet, but it comes with caveats. Concerns about a lack of protein found in meat and other products as well as other nutrients the body needs are very real. If you’re considering this new lifestyle, here are ten helpful going vegan tips to get to most out of your new dietary lifestyle.
1. Take It Slow
No one up and changes their diet overnight. Doing so can cause health risks and a natural dissatisfaction with whatever new diet you’re experiencing. Veganism requires a slow transition. Begin by subbing out certain vegetarian or meat-filled meals with vegan alternatives.
Perhaps pick a day of the week and try to challenge yourself by making it meatless (or, if you’re already vegetarian, eggless). This will ensure your body will handle the change in products and will make the transition be less of a daunting task.
2. Do Your Research
Veganism is a major transition, politics and feelings about human rights aside. So knowing what your body can handle initially is key in making the change. Study up on some plant-based nutrition. Not only will it make for a healthier shift in diet, but when some snobby meat eater asks from where you get your protein, your well-equipped to answer.
Besides adopting a new diet, a brand new vegan lifestyle can be branched out in many different ways. For example, you can start wearing sustainable clothing made from ecofriendly materials. There are vegan clothing choices from head to toe, including vegan clothes and vegan shoes that come in all styles and colours.
3. Start With What You Love
Just because veganism disallows any food from an animal doesn’t mean you have to outright reject what you once loved. Virtually any dish you once enjoyed can easily be made using vegan substitutions.
4. Tofu is Your Friend
This goes without saying, but tofu is the perfect substitution for any meat-based ingredient. On its own, it’s a flat, flavorless white block, but it can be spiced, marinated or altered any way you see fit.
5. Be Adventurous
Keeping an open mind is important for many of these going vegan tips. You’re about to open yourself up to a whole new world of food you never thought you’d try. Welcome to the land of noodles, rice, buckwheat, kimchi, nutritional yeast and countless other exotic ingredients you may have never even heard of in your previous diet. It’s important to explore and find out what you like. Prepare to stock your spice rack with a myriad of flavours from different countries.
6. Be Creative
While tofu is most certainly your friend, it’s not the be all and end all of a vegan diet. Constantly be on the lookout for different flavors and ingredients. You’d be surprised how many different substitutions can still capture the taste of any animal-based dish. A good cookbook from a noted vegan or vegetarian, such as the late Linda McCartney, will be your guide. McCartney was a vegetarian, but any of her recipes can be adapted into veganism with little changes.
7. Convert Your Friends to the Vegan Lifestyle
Without ever being preachy, cooking a hearty, vegan meal for a group of friends can introduce them to world of flavour to which they previously were not privvy. It helps to know your audience; their tastes and preferences. But acting as an ambassador for the vegan community can turn a dinner party into a memorable evening.
8. Find a Community
Not everyone is going to take to your new diet well, so it’s helpful to seek support from other known vegans. Becoming a regular reader and commenter on vegan food blogs is a way to seek out virtual support, but the same can be done in person by hanging out in the chic vegan restaurant in your neighbourhood. No likes to go through major changes alone.
9. Your Tastebuds and Cravings Will Change
As you continue your adventure into veganism, your body and mouth will adapt along with you. Soon, you’ll find yourself naturally craving soy beans and lentils as opposed to the well-cooked steak you once preferred.
10. You Will Eat Animal Products Inadvertently
Take care when ordering in restaurants. After being a vegan for some time, your body chemistry will change. If the restaurant in question isn’t exclusively vegan, food is often prepared on the same grill as meat products, letting it soak into the tofu and beans if not proper care is taken. The sudden re-introduction of meat can cause abdominal trouble.
If you don’t already, vegan food is always best when it’s prepared at home. So start learning new recipes, incorporating all the tips listed above for a tasty, nourishing meal.