Vegan Diet For Beginners

    Everyone has heard of a vegetarian diet, but a vegan diet has been growing in popularity worldwide – so what is it anyway?

    People have been switching to a vegan diet at a rapid rate, with some studies citing a 600% increase in people identifying as vegan from 2014 to 2017! While some may have thought this food trend was temporary, it’s clear it’s here to stay – and growing fast. 

    Vegan Diet For Beginners
    Written By: Caitlin Conner Vegan food blogger

    While a vegan diet may seem like a new trend, the term has been around since the 1940s, with its own World Vegan Day being launched in 1994 and celebrated ever since, not to mention Veganuary starting in 2014. However, the vegan options available today would make any past vegan jealous; we’re talking vegan burgers, pizza, cakes and more!

    With this said, it’s also true that a vegan diet requires more planning and effort to follow, and can be especially challenging for beginners trying to navigate the shopping list and ingredient labels, while also being sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. 

    A great way to dip your toes into veganism is to start with a meal delivery service, something to take the stress off of you and let you explore a whole new world of food. Some great services include Sprinly, Veestro, Purple Carrot or Splendid Spoon

    Vegan Diet Basics

    Now that we know these vegan dieters are here to stay, what exactly do they eat?

    A vegan diet for beginners is similar to a vegetarian who avoids meat, but differs in that a vegan also avoids animal by-products, including milk, eggs and often honey. 

    This means it heavily focuses on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, legumes and seeds.

    This might sound restrictive and stressful at first, but just wait until you see some of the creative and simple meals you can make!

    Where Do You Get Your Protein?

    The first question that pops into your mind might be: where in the world do you get your protein?

    We’ve all been raised to believe that meat equals protein, but there are plenty of excellent and tasty protein sources available in the plant world:

    • Beans

    • Tofu

    • Tempeh

    • Seitan
      (a gluten product)

    • Lentils

    • Lentils

    • Store-Bought Vegan Meats

    • Quinoa

    • Fortified Dairy-Free Milk

    Veganism opens the door to trying all new and delicious things, and you might just find a new favorite.

    What Do You Actually Eat On a Vegan Diet?

    Now that we’ve covered where you get your protein from, let’s talk about what else vegans can enjoy.

    Becoming vegan for beginners doesn’t have to be intimidating, just be sure to do a little research and know what to look for on ingredient labels.

    Aside from all of the veganized, store-bought comfort foods available (all the ice cream, frozen convenience meals and baked goods your heart desires!), in order to keep things budget-friendly and a bit healthier, here is a simple vegan food list for beginners: 

    • Vegetables like peppers, zucchini, mushrooms

    • Fruit like apples, pears, oranges and melons

    • Nuts like almonds, pecans, walnuts and peanuts

    • Seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds

    • Quinoa, rice, bread and pasta

    • Beans, lentils and peas

    • Dairy alternatives like almond milk and oat milk

    • Tofu, tempeh and seitan

    What Benefits Does Vegan Diet Have?

    One obvious benefit a vegan diet offers is typically an increase in the amount of fruit and vegetables you eat, as well as other whole foods.

    Increased fiber, lower cholesterol, lower risks of cancer and diabetes, and a diet that overall promotes weight loss are a few more pros.

    Many people also say they feel more energized, lighter and happier with their life choices when switching!

    What are the Reasons for Choosing to Go Vegan?

    There’s a few major reasons why people have been choosing to adopt a vegan diet these days.

     

    Some simply do not wish to support the animal agriculture industry. They choose to spend their money on vegan foods instead of supporting an industry they don’t approve of.

    Others choose the diet in order to reduce their carbon footprint. The University of Oxford found that eating a vegan diet could reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73%.

    Lastly, some people choose to go vegan as a way of eating more fruits and vegetables, and an overall healthier diet.

    Is Going Vegan Good for Everyone?

    There’s a few major reasons why people have been choosing to adopt a vegan diet these days.

    It’s important to note that a vegan diet does not automatically equate to a healthy diet.

    Oreos, Skittles, French fries and more are all examples of “accidentally” vegan foods that aren’t exactly healthy.

    Not to mention all of the purposefully made vegan junk foods like cookies, cakes and other treats!

    These are so fun and convenient to have in moderation, but in order to thrive on a vegan diet you really must make nutrition a priority.

    Making sure you get all the nutrients you need can be tricky to get used to at first, it can definitely be helpful to have a plan in place before transitioning.

    The Most Popular Vegan Diet Types

    While a vegan diet might seem niche enough, you might be shocked to discover there are even subtypes!

    Some follow a raw vegan diet, in which they only eat uncooked foods – even in the winter!

    These diets are often filled with big colorful salads, fruit plates, sauces and soups made with tahini, avocado or peanut butter, lettuce wraps, hummus, smoothies and more.

    Others consider themselves whole food plant based vegans. This usually means they simply stay away from processed foods and store-bought vegan cheeses or meats, instead opting for foods in their natural form.

    You can always explore these subtypes should you ever be interested, but it’s a good idea to transition into the general vegan world before trying these.

    Easy into veganism by cutting out just one food group like meat, or if that seems too daunting, try cutting out just red meat. See how it feels and begin to transition into vegan protein sources like tofu, tempeh, setitan, beans or lentils.

    Getting Started – The Ultimate Beginner Vegan Checklist

    Now that we’ve covered some basics of what a vegan diet is, what is the best way to start one?

    Something highly recommended in the vegan community is to transition slowly – you don’t want to overwhelm your mind and body with a dramatic change in diet, regardless of how you were eating before!

    Here are a few ideas on how to do this:

    1. Quit meat for a week and see how you’re feeling

    Easy into veganism by cutting out just one food group like meat, or if that seems too daunting, try cutting out just red meat. See how it feels and begin to transition into vegan protein sources like tofu, tempeh, setitan, beans or lentils.

    2. Try eating one vegan meal a day

    If you just can’t wait to get started, eating one vegan meal a day can be a great starting place.

    Breakfast is one of the easier options, things like smoothies, oatmeal and avocado toast are usually already vegan!

    Otherwise, try adding in a vegan meal into your lunch or dinners and see how you’re feeling.

    3. Try dairy substitutes

    Dairy substitutes are popping up all over the place these days!

    A great way to transition into a vegan diet for beginners is to simply cut out dairy first.

    You won’t even miss it – with dairy-free cheeses, milks, yogurts, sour creams, cream cheeses, butter and more to simply purchase instead.

    Some of the best dairy-free brands include Field Roast, Kitehill and Miyokos.

    4. Don’t choose a holiday period to change your diet 

    Transitioning to a vegan diet can be life-altering enough, without the pressure of explaining your choices to your whole family at the holiday dinner table. You also might feel discouraged with a huge roast on the table if you’re just starting out and haven’t found the delicious alternatives you love yet!

    The New Year is instead a great time to transition – lots of people are trying new things and you won’t have so much pressure or stress as a new vegan during the holidays would.

    5. Get support from friends and family

    One of the best and most fun ways to try veganism is with a friend. Not only can they be your accountability partner, but you can swap recipes, try vegan restaurants and share challenges along the way. Even if no one else is transitioning with you, it can be helpful to explain why you are trying veganism and let loved ones know you’d appreciate their support.

    6. Visit vegan groups and forums for essential tips

    There are tons of vegan festivals throughout the year in many major cities! Try a vegan festival near you to make friends and try all sorts of vegan deliciousness. If you’re not in a large city, make a plan to try a vegan restaurant that’s closest to you, or just a restaurant with vegan options!

    The Beginner Vegan Meal Plan

    To help take some of the pressure off of yourself when transitioning diets, it can be helpful to use a beginner vegan meal plan like Veestro.

    With Veestro, you can choose how many meals you’d like and how often they will arrive. This would be especially helpful to have a vegan prepared meal for the first couple of weeks, or for at least one meal everyday. Veestro uses fresh, organic ingredients and the meals don’t require any cooking or prep! Just delicious and nutritious vegan food. You can even customize with preferences like high-protein, low-calorie, soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free or kosher options.

    Here is an example of a day of vegan meals with Veestro:

    Breakfast

    Breakfast Burrito – A delicious blend of beans, tofu, veggies, and potatoes wrapped up in a warm tortilla, served with a side of tasty breakfast potatoes!

    Veestro Breakfast Burrito

    Lunch

    Kale and Quinoa Salad – Made with a slaw mix and cranberries, and topped with savory tempeh bits!

    Veestro Kale and Quinoa Salad

    Dinner

    Meatless Lasagna – Loaded with Impossible meat, bell peppers, carrots, cremini mushrooms, and a delicious vine-ripened tomato sauce!

    What To Be Prepared For When Going Vegan

    Here you can write about anything that beginner vegans should be prepared for in the first weeks of applying their new diet – for example:

    • Initial changes in your digestion – It’s normal to experience some digestive changes while your body gets used to a vegan diet. This can include some bloating and general indigestion. Transitioning slowly and consuming probiotics can help with this.
    • Potential nutrient deficiencies – Vegan diets can make it more difficult to get nutrients like B12, D and Iron. It’s recommended to supplement with B12 and discuss with your doctor where else you may need some supplementation.
    • Skin issues (sign of low omega-3) – Transitioning to a vegan diet can come with some initial mild acne, but this should clear up sooner rather than later. Consuming things like flax and chia seeds can help add more omega-3s to your diet.
    • More/less energy – While initially you may feel slightly more tired as your gut gets used to the new foods, you will almost certainly feel more energized when beginning a vegan diet!
    • Temporary weight loss/weight gain – Like mentioned above, initial bloat should not last long, and a vegan diet often promotes weight loss.

    Bottom Line

    Overall, a vegan diet can be a great choice that’s full of flavor and variety. It’s never been easier to enjoy a vegan diet than it is today – with so many alternative foods, restaurants and comfort foods so that you never miss non-vegan foods again.

    Transitioning your diet can be a life-altering endeavor, but with some planning and help from vegan meal delivery services, it can be enjoyable and stress-free. Enjoy all the delicious plant-based foods and recipes, and have fun experimenting and trying new things!

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    How can I make sure I am getting all of my nutrients?

    A daily multivitamin designed for vegan diets can be incredibly helpful for vegans, also discussing your daily needs with a primary doctor who understands the needs of vegan eaters.

    What if I run out of meals to make?

    Google and Pinterest are excellent resources for vegan recipes. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, a vegan meal delivery service can help put you at ease and make this process easy and enjoyable.

    What if I’m a picky eater?

    The great thing about a vegan diet is it forces you to try all sorts of new foods. Typical diets don’t have nearly as much variety and tend to repeat the same foods. You might just find a new favorite food you never would have tried before! Otherwise, just stick with what you like for now; there’s a vegan alternative to anything these days!

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