At the beginning of each year, people struggle with Dryuary, fad diets, juices, and other fleeting methods to become healthier, or they use the clean slate as an opportunity to make lasting lifestyle decisions. With meat prices skyrocketing and the never-ending pandemic focus on health awareness, people might want to consider becoming vegan.
More than 9.6 million Americans are vegan, which is equivalent to almost 3% of the population. Studies have been shown that adopting a vegan lifestyle lowers cholesterol and can help you lose weight if that’s your goal.
However, let’s get one thing clear: veganism is not in vogue.
“I think veganism is something that is here to stay.” said Rene Johnson, an Oakland, California-based soul food chef and author of the vegan-friendly cookbook “From My heart at your table. ” “It is going to be the norm. People are excited to try vegan food. ”
BBut like any lifestyle transformation, veganism has its pros and cons.
What is veganism?
“Veganism is an ethical stance, it is not a ‘fad diet,’ even though people looking to cash in on what’s in style easily classify it in that category.” Anya todd, a Cleveland-based dietitian who specializes in vegan nutrition, told HuffPost. “Being vegan cannot make you immune to health problems, although the tricks will try to convince you. No way of eating can give you that security. What being vegan can do is reduce your carbon footprint, align your actions with your ethics of justice and compassion, and eliminate your involvement in some of the worst cruelty to animals imaginable. “
But even with a more compassionate lifestyle decision, Johnson encouraged vegans to live guilt-free.
“You have to choose a reason why you want to be vegan and follow that,” he said. “I think veganism is not a religion. You must not do it with a guilty heart. Blame it: you know how healthy it is for you, but you still crave a piece of bacon. If you do, I want you to know that you can start over the next day. I think you should forgive yourself if you slip up. I think a slip is healthy from time to time. “
What is the best approach to transition?
For omnivores to go vegan, they have to give up things like beef, eggs, dairy, and even honey. At first, it can seem overwhelming to quit suddenly, so to speak.
“For the sake of the planet and the animals, I would love for everyone to go vegan, but we live in an imperfect world where ‘all or nothing’ is not achievable for many people, ”Todd said. “If you are looking to go vegan, evaluate your current food intake, as you will be amazed at what are already naturally vegan: beans and rice, pasta and sauce. Take a look at what you could easily substitute. For some people it may be switching to non-dairy plant-based milk, while others may find it really easy to stop eating beef. “
You can start simple by substituting chickpeas, rice and quinoa for meat before moving on to plant-based meat, Johnson added.
“The tofu is really beautiful. Try a couple different vegetable butters to see which one you like. Try your cashew milk or oat milk, see what you like. If you’re going to go vegan and just don’t do anything, it’s a tough corner. But if you start replacing things with vegan alternatives, then it’s easier to transition, “he said.
So you’ve decided to put a spin on veganism. How much time should you give yourself to see if it is right for you? Johnson suggested trying it for two weeks.
“I’ve never seen anyone say, ‘Hey, I’m going to be vegan. Give me 30 days, ‘”he said. “In the first week, you know if you can do it or not. Once you really start to experience it and realize that you are not missing anything, it is a different kind of experience. “
How do you deal with people who judge?
Sometimes veganism comes with discrimination. However, as Johnson’s grandmother once said, “keep your eyes on your own plate.”
“A lot of times when you say you’re vegan, people think you’re not going to eat right,” Johnson said. “People automatically think because you have chosen to be vegan that you are better than them or that you are going to eat horrible food. But it’s nobody’s business. I don’t let anyone dictate how I’m going to eat or what my experience with food is. “
Similarly, Todd added, “I don’t give a damn what other people think.”
What are some of the unexpected side effects of being vegan?
It can come with the good and the bad, depending on how you eat it. For Johnson, going vegan helped curb her sugar cravings and lightened her skin (she can leave the house without makeup) and made her feel lighter.
“Before I was vegan, I used to be the person who went through the checkout and always grabbed two or three bars of chocolate,” she said. “Now I can’t get those chocolate bars.”
“But you can’t just say you’re vegan and eat a lot of fries,” he continued. “I absolutely believe that if more people were vegan, we would have fewer health problems. People’s diabetes would go down. Blood pressure would drop. Change could happen. “
Is eating vegan expensive?
Judging from the plant-based aisle in a grocery store, you would think that eating plant-based foods is not affordable. Beyond hamburgers It costs about $ 4.99 for a pack of two burgers, and some upscale restaurants dedicate their entire menus to vegetables. But if you can cook food from scratch, it can be cheap.
“Animal farming is subsidized by the government, so everyone should keep this in mind as to why they can go to a fast food outlet and buy cheap food, ”Todd said. “Can vegan food be more expensive? Sure, there are non-dairy cheeses that are over $ 12. But you can also get a can of beans for less than a dollar. Limited research shows that vegan diet patterns are cheaper than animal-based ones. “
What are the best ways to get enough vitamins and protein?
The lack of foods rich in B12 (meat, dairy, eggs and fish) and protein can be challenging for vegans, and is also a reason why going vegan can be more difficult for people with certain health conditions such as anemia. To get enough protein and vitamins, Todd recommended eating a variety of foods.
“Vegans should supplement with vitamin B12 or eat foods fortified with it,” he said. These include cereals, nutritional yeast, and some plant-based milks. “People should focus on consuming several servings a day of protein-rich foods such as legumes and soy foods (soy milk, tofu, and tempeh). If necessary include protein powder and processed foods [like veggie burgers], this is perfectly fine. The idea that some of these products are ‘overly processed’ is not based on science and creates unnecessary dietary restrictions. “
Johnson also agreed that it is important that you get enough vitamins and potassium.
“You have to make sure you eat enough potatoes and avocados,” he said. “Just make sure to watch your vitamin intake and replace those things with a vitamin supplement or make sure you have a balanced vegan diet.“