Are you thinking about going vegan?
This guide will show you everything you need to know about getting started on a vegan diet.
Why is it that as soon as you call yourself a vegan, you start getting lots of criticism?
For most people who eat a standard diet, it’s not easy to understand how someone can give up meat for his entire existence so easily, knowing that temptations abound the weak heart.
The trust is, subsisting only on plants and abstaining from all kinds of meat are too much of a demand for most people to bear.
People usually come to veganism through either ethical reasonings or through health concerns.
That’s not to say that people can’t be concerned about both about ethical and health related issues.
My focus on Green Thickies started as a platform to share the kind of nourishment you can get from a vegan diet rather than its ethical basis and arguments.
However, everything changed when I got to know more about going vegan through my continuous search for a sustainable diet plan that can help me manage my weight AND help me stay healthy and prevent disease.
Veganism is actually more than just an advocacy; it is a lifestyle that can help improve one’s overall health and fitness.
Although that doesn’t stop the vegan trolls attacking me whenever I share health related vegan images on instagram. According to them, nobody should be going vegan for health reasons, only for concern about the animals.
Don’t let these angry vegans put you off. Do what you think is right and don’t let anybody beat you down with their negativity. That’s my motto.
Today, I am sharing a few facts about vegan diets with you, and how specifically it can help you in achieving your health goals.
What is A Vegan Diet?
Going vegan is not as easy as obtaining curated recipes and following instructions to the letter.
First, you have to psych yourself for the requirements of this diet.
The vegan diet was borne out of the advocacy against animal cruelty, and for which reason bans all meat and animal by-products.
What is the Difference Between A Vegan Diet and A Vegetarian Diet?
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet – This eliminates meat, fish, and poultry but permits dairy and eggs.
- Lacto-vegetarian diet – This eliminates meat, fish, poultry and eggs but retains dairy.
- Ovo-vegetarian diet – This eliminates meat, fish, poultry and dairy, but retains eggs.
- Pescetarian diet – This bans meat and poultry, but allows fish and sometimes eggs and dairy in controlled amounts.
- Vegan diet – This bans all animal meat and products, including eggs and dairy and only permits plant-based foods.
- Flexitarian diet – This is a more flexible type of veganism that incorporates occasional meat, poultry and fish into a diet that is heavy on greens.
- Pegan diet – this is supposed to be a cross between a vegan and paleo diet, but as this diet still allows some meat, it really a diet that vegans could follow. Read more about a pegan diet here.
- Valeo diet – this is a term I have coined to be a TRUE cross between a true paleolithic diet and a vegan diet. This is how I eat. Read more about a valeo diet at the end of this article.
The 4 Incredible Benefits of Being Vegan
Despite its restrictive diet, going vegan is usually linked to a number of health benefits, among them are the following:
Fast Weight Loss
If there’s anything I can guarantee you most about following a vegan diet, it would be the high possibility of losing weight in a little time.
This is not entirely due to the fact that you abstain from meat.
Rather, it points to the improved satiation levels brought about by consuming nutrient-dense foods that have high amounts of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Calories in plants are a lot lower than animal based products which means you can eat massive portions of food and still take in less calories.
This effect is backed by extensive clinical studies, including the one published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine where it was revealed that vegans weighed four pounds less than those who were not.
I also like to add that this could be due to practising “mindful eating” as well.
Going vegan entails reading those food labels and scrutinizing the produce to make sure that only whole, quality edibles are being consumed.
I can tell you that whenever I start to read ingredients lists, 9 times out of 10, I will not purchase that product as it has lots of nasties that I don’t want to eat.
Regular Bowel Movements
Because your diet is rich in fiber, you can benefit from an effective gut cleansing and regular trips to the bathroom.
Fiber in plant-based foods is essential for digestion and bowel movement.
This also helps in weight loss efforts as it rids your body of waste on a daily basis.
Reduced Cancer Risk
There are studies suggesting that vegan diet plays a role in the reduction of risks among patients with colon, breast, rectum and stomach cancers.
While these results are not conclusive, it is good enough to know that vegan diet helps keep chronic illnesses at bay while you also get to enjoy a better quality of life.
Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
This is beneficial for patients suffering from diabetes and even those who are diagnosed with high risks of acquiring it.
A vegan diet can help regulate blood sugar levels, as suggested by a study in which veganism was being linked to up to 53% reduced risks of diabetes in five years.
What Do Vegans Eat? Examples of Vegan Foods
While you have probably figured out that you can only munch on plant-based foods, you should also be aware that knowing exactly what you need to eat is the key to enjoying a vegan diet.
You may even experiment with them for variety.
Of course, let’s begin with vegetables.
Any green edible leaves can be incorporated to the diet, so can any vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, tomatoes and carrots.
Fruits are not to be forgotten, as they make the diet more manageable and enjoyable.
Try adding slices of apples, bananas, kiwis and other citrusy and watery fruits into your meal to make them more palatable.
I also suggest blending them into a smoothie or Green Thickie so you can better savor their flavors and not be worried about missing a nutrient from one of these fruits.
Grains, legumes, seeds and nuts are highly endorsed in the diet.
As a vegan you may stock up on quinoa, wheat (although I personally don’t recommend a diet containing gluten for health reasons), rice, barley and oats for your grains supply.
As for legumes, seeds and nuts, you are allowed to consume beans, peas, flaxseeds and almonds among many other varieties.
Of course, while your main source of diet doesn’t permit animal fats, you can obtain your oils from coconut, soya, olive and even avocados. For health reasons I also always recommend you get your fats from whole foods rather than oils.
4 Best Vegan Protein Sources
A common misconception about vegans is that they have no better alternative for meat, which is a primary source of protein among more flexible dieters.
But this is not true at all, because vegans can eat plants which just so happen to be high in protein. So don’t worry. As a vegan, you can still provide your body with sufficient amounts of protein.
Here are some of the best protein foods for vegans:
More popularly known as bean curd, tofu is a primary substitute for meat in a vegan diet.
It is derived from soya beans.
While it can be eaten alone, most often it is cooked in a variety of ways, even as a replacement for a recipe that calls for meat.
There is a lot of scare mongering when it comes to soya and tofu, but these myths have now been well and truly busted by science which shows that soy actually prevents disease.
Tempeh is also a protein-rich derivative of soy bean, which provide the meaty texture in a vegan recipe.
If you need to load up for muscle building, you can rely on lentils to give you 18 grams of proteins per serving (240 ml).
You can incorporate them into your soups, salads or other dishes that complement their taste.
Going vegan might require you to be a bit more creative.
If you want to consume more protein yet don’t just want to eat plain chickpeas, you may opt to mash chickpeas and turn them into patties which you can either bake or air fry.
The ideas are endless.
Chickpeas are actually the highlight of falafel, a vegan snack that is known for its creative use of chickpeas to replace meat.
Beans, especially the kidney variety, are popular even among those who do not practice veganism.
This is because of the widely-marketed recipes involving some tomato sauce and chilli.
Beans are high in protein, which usually amounts to 15 grams per cup serving—a better alternative to meat-dense dinners.
The great thing about beans is that they are classed as both a carb and a protein source. They have the unique composition of being high in protein, and also high in nutrients which is rare for standard protein sources.
Eating beans daily is associated with living a longer, healthier life.
What are Some Examples of Easy Vegan Meals?
If you’re new to dieting and have decided to give a vegan diet a go, you may try these sample recipes I have created myself which are vegan-friendly.
They are meat-free and the ingredients can be easily obtained so all you have to do is prep and cook.
These are example recipes taken from my meal planning system, The Leaf System which provides whole, unprocessed, healthy vegan meals. You can get started free by clicking here.
Chickpea Avocado Salad Recipe
- 1 can chickpeas (15 oz./425 g.) or 1 cup, soaked and cooked from dried
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 avocado
- ½ small green cabbage
- 2 green/salad onions
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1 handful fresh cilantro/coriander
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Cayenne or chilli pepper (optional) to taste
- 2 cups mixed greens
- Mince the garlic and drain the beans.
- Mush the beans with a fork or just process them in your food processor.
- If you’re using the food processor, add in the garlic as well.
- Chop all remaining ingredients.
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve on a bed of greens.
Tree Hugger Flatbread Recipe
- 1 cup gluten-free oat flour (grind oats in a food processor)
- ½ cup water
- 2 tablespoons Italian herbs, fresh or dried
- Pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
- Mix the flour with the herbs and some salt and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour in the water and form a dough with your hands. You should be able to make small rounds balls with the dough sticking too much. If it sticks, add a small amount of water.
- Form small balls and add additional flour to roll into 5-inch or bigger rounds. They should be about 1⁄4-inch thick.
- Heat a skillet/ frying pan over medium heat and place each flatbread in the pan. Cook the flatbreads for 2 minutes on each side or until browned.
How Can I Get Started with A Vegan Diet Plan?
I highly recommend that you determine first which type of vegan diet you are planning to follow, or what food restrictions you are willing to be bound to.
It is also advisable to consult with your doctor for any possible health requirements and limitations that you need to comply with.
But other than those, you may easily start your vegan diet as soon as today.
Here’s my suggested vegan meal plan for a day that should get you started right away:
Breakfast: Green Thickie (complete meal green smoothie)
Lunch: Zucchini and Arugula Vegan Pesto “Pasta”
Dinner: Sweet Potato Lentil Salad
If you’d rather not have the hassle of having to plan your own meals, you may refer to my own curated meal plan called The Leaf System to save you the hassle of deciding which food item should go with the other. Get started here.
The bonus is, you are guaranteed to achieve your goal weight in time without experiencing risky side-effects that occasionally occur in faddy diets, and all the while sticking to a 100% delicious vegan diet.
What Vegan Documentaries Can I Watch to Learn More?
I suggest that you watch these documentaries so you can familiarize yourself with the ins and outs of the vegan diet, especially its various advocacies and the struggles which the vegan community faces in the modern world.
I’ve also chosen some great documentaries that will teach you how to eat to be healthy. You’ll be a vegan and health expert by the time you’ve worked your way through this list.
These documentaries are also very entertaining so swap your usual movies for these and get ready to change your life.
8 Best Vegan Documentaries
- Food, Inc.
- Meet Your Meat
- Vegan: Everyday Stories
- What The Health
- Food Matters
- Forks Over Knives
More than just an advocacy, veganism is a lifestyle that is sustainable and beneficial for humans and for animals in the long-term.
Instead of looking at it with disdain due to its abomination for meat, we can instead focus on the health benefits that the vegan diet provides aside from the impact it is making on the world as a whole.
5 Best Vegan Resources
1) Related Resources You Are Also Going To Love
I’ve compiled a list of helpful resources that will help you take things to the next level:
- 10 Best High Protein Natural Vegan Smoothies (Without Protein Powder)
- The Vegan Diet: Everything You Need To know
- Filling Green Smoothie Recipe Video Youtube Playlist
2) My Must Have Vegan Tools
3) Free 12 Day Green Smoothie E-course
Learn the secret to making a natural breakfast AND lunch from scratch that will significantly lower your body fat… in just 2 minutes per day…
Get my 12 Day green smoothie E-course here
4) FREE Vegan Meal Plans
Get a full month’s worth of Leaf System meal plans FREE to help you reach your ideal weight in the most nutritionally sound way imaginable
Click here to get started free
5) Follow Green Thickies Social Media Channels:
I share different content on each platform and I can’t wait to connect with you over there.
- Get fruit inspirational vegan facts, vegan recipes and more by following @greenthickies on Instagram
Follow Green Thickies on Pinterest for all my recipes and articles
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