Going vegan these days really is a cakewalk with the enormous amount of vegan junk food offered in stores and at restaurants. Being a healthy vegan is where the real challenge is at. If you are interested in starting a whole foods plant-based lifestyle low in sugar and saturated fats, then this blog post is for you. If you are already vegan, and you want to clean up your diet and get rid of the vegan junk food, then this blog post is for you too! Why does it have to take 6 months, you may ask? It doesn't, but if you want to make lasting changes that are sustainable for a lifetime (and a long life you will have if you're plant-based), then it's worth it to invest time and energy into transforming your diet.
Crowd Out The Junk With The Good
Instead of quitting anything cold turkey, baby steps is much easier to do and will help the changes stick for good. When I tried to give up cheese on the spot, I threw every bit of cheese in the trash and a couple of days later bought some more. When I stopped worrying about being a perfect vegan day 1, I ate a little less cheese day by day and eventually realized I was no longer buying it or craving it.
Start by making your meals heavy on vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Make meat, cheese, and vegan junk foods (frozen meals high in sodium, meat substitutes, soy cheeses, etc.) smaller portions each day. Eventually your body will start to crave more of the good stuff and you will crowd out the junk with the good.
Know Your Supplements
I don't believe a vegan diet is a deficient one. However, every vegan ought to take B12 because we can't get B12 from food sources. Your nutritional yeast may be fortified with B vitamins, but it is still best to be safe and take a daily supplement. I also take a marine algae omega-3 DHA/EPA. I recently found out I have a vitamin D deficiency, so I have started taking vitamin D and K2 (for better absorption). The top source for vitamin D is fish, and unless you're in the sun for 30+ minutes daily without sunscreen, you won't get your optimal vitamin D needs.
Before reaching for more vitamins, think first of where you can get those vitamins from food sources instead. You can get omega-3 ALA from ground flaxseeds and hemp seeds. Most other vitamins are found in whole food plant sources, particularly dark, leafy greens and berries full of antioxidants and polyphenols. If you are eating a well-rounded vegan diet full of color and variety, then you will have no trouble meeting your daily needs.
Because many supplements are fat soluble, make sure you eat healthy fats when taking them. I take my vitamins and supplements at breakfast, so my breakfasts are always full of healthy fats like a superfood smoothie, almond butter on rice crackers, or avocado toast.
If your friends or family are eating at any American-style restaurant, chances are they have fries. As tempting as it may be, and even when it seems like your only option, avoid going for the fries. This is not a meal, and often times the fries are cooked in the same oil as fried chicken and other foods you don't want to cross contaminate with. Most restaurants have salads, and I sometimes pack hemp seeds, a bag of nuts, or nutritional yeast to toss on top. If the idea of always eat salad makes you hangry, then ask the staff if there is anything that can be done vegan? The majority of the time, you're not the first person who has asked, and the chef is happy to make a delicious vegetable medley that everyone will be jealous of. Otherwise, there are usually vegetable sides, a vegan appetizer, or a dish that you can ask to have the meat and cheese taken off of.
Becoming A Healthy Vegan
What do I mean by healthy vegan? A vegan who wakes up with bursting energy after having a restful and restorative sleep. A vegan who eats well-rounded meals with plenty of protein, fiber, and nutrients. A vegan who builds muscles and maintains a healthy weight. A vegan who never feels fatigue or suffers from hormonal imbalance. And a vegan who lives with minimal stress and a passion and purpose for his or her life. While my tips above will give you a great start to your vegan journey, my 6-month program is designed to help you reap all of these benefits in less than a year. You will never feel like you lack knowledge on nutrition, how to navigate restaurants and grocery stores, or how to cook. You will feel confident in your knowledge on how your food choices prevent and reverse heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or jump in by filling out a health history form or schedule your free consultation.
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