A fad or the best way of living, there's only one way to find out.
There is a lot of talk about Veganism and it benefits from a health as well as environmental perspective.
Is it healthy? Probably!
Is it better for the environment? Pretty likely!
There is enough evidence to convince us all of the powerhouse that can be found inside Vegan bodies. The Gladiators were mostly plant-based, some of the most successful athletes are Vegan. This is enough evidence for us to know that Veganism is definitely worth considering.
This is where it gets difficult and most of us end up deciding against it. When you list out all the foods that you have to leave and all the nutrient deficiencies that you make get, it is only natural to leave the thought. In this article, I have created a good path that one can take if they genuinely want to go Vegan.
Remember one thing, you are doing this for yourself. So you can go as slow and gradual
MAKE A LIST OF THE FOODS YOU CAN EAT
Instead of cutting food out, add food! The kind of food you eat will be very different (if you are non-vegetarian) but that's not really a bad thing. So make this list - all the foods that you must start eating if you go Vegan!
Use the following food groups:
Vitamin & mineral-rich
Herbs, spices, condiments
Now, in each category, list down at least 5 options that you are fond of. Make this as extensive and creative as you can.
MAKE A NUTRITION PLAN BASED ON THE ABOVE LIST
You can use this plan as a framework to design a plan that works for you. Remember, one thing though, this plan is designed for healthy individuals.
If you have any health issues (PCOS, Diabetes, Obesity, Chronic Fatigue, Digestive Issues, etc.) then you should get a personalized plan built for you. You can email me on email@example.com to get started.
Here's your diet plan:
Wake up - Eat soaked nuts, oilseeds, dried figs
Breakfast - A bowl of cooked sprouts with some veggies (only if you wake up super early in the morning)
Lunch - 1 bowl of Dal, 2 types of Sabzis (one green, one anything else), Ragi or Jowar Roti
Evening - Fruit + Nuts
Dinner - Amaranth roti, 1 cup of Sabzi (french beans, peas, fresh toor, sem/papdi, etc), High protein chutney (there are lots of nut/seed based chutneys in Tamil and Malayali food - coconut, flaxseed, sesame seed)
Supplements to consider: - Spirulina
- Calcium and D3
- Vegan Protein Powder
These supplements will only be necessary if your lifestyle demands are a certain body type or if you are an athlete/ fitness professional/ dancer.
I, personally, am not a big fan of depending on supplements. However, in some conditions, it is necessary to take them. But, please be very conservative with your intake. In the current environment, taking supplements has become so common that we tend to forget that it still does contain artificial and harmful additives like preservatives and color. I suggest, taking these in the first few months when you are getting used to a vegan life. Over time, try and eliminate one supplement at a time.
ADD ONE GROUP PER FORTNIGHT
Just change one group per week. For example, if in week 1, you wish to switch to Vegan carbohydrate sources, but you can still eat the meat, then that doesn't seem to tough!
So keep making these changes gradually, one food group at a time.
If a particular group seems harder, then break it further. For example, leaving meat can be difficult for most people. In that case, break this into one meat at a time. First, leave just chicken. Do this for a month, maybe even longer. Once you have gotten used to this new way of eating, then go onto quitting eggs. For me, leaving curd was a very big challenge. So I broke just curd into small part - first I stopped curd with meals (smoothies and lunch), after about 10 days, I eliminated curd based preparations like Kadhi and different Curries.
Remember one thing, you are doing this for yourself. So you can go as slow and gradually as you like.
For a lot of us, eating out / ordering in is where things go out of hand. This is because every menu is designed to seduce you. It is only natural for you to order that Pizza you have always loved. so here's what you do:
In the initial weeks, you can eat non-vegan foods here and there. This is till you are adding vegan food options at home (the above step). Once there are no other food groups to swap at home, shift your attention to what you eat when you are out.
Most cuisines will have ample vegan options by default - Asian, Lebanese, Mexican and Indian food have Vegan options without them even trying. So try and stick to these options or go to restaurants that have vegan options on their menu.
THE VEGAN LIFE
By now, you should have been pretty comfortable with this new life. You might have lost some weight, felt a difference in your energy levels, better focus in your workplace, improved digestion, better skin, maybe reduced acne. There are a lot of benefits that you will start feeling with time.
However, in order to stick to this new life for good, you must be a little practical. If you come from a hardcore Punjabi meat-loving family, then going Vegan can be tough on you (and your family). Be a little flexible. Eat a little bit here and there up to once a month, if you feel that is what will keep you satiated enough. I, for example, have grown up on Ghee and cannot imagine living life without it (mainly because of it's health benefits). So, although I have skipped all other forms of Dairy, Ghee continues to be a part of every meal I consume. However, my next step is to find a Gaushala that I am confident does not torture the cows and buy Ghee from them.
Your reason for going vegan will decide how you do it.
If you are going vegan from an environment perspective, then, by all means, go completely plant-based. However, if your health or athletic performance is your reason, then I suggest going "GHEE-GAN" - which is a strict vegan who eats Ghee (LOL :p).
If a good life is what you seek, then you instead of falling into one structured, stereotyped diet, be smart about it. Make a plan that works for you.
Make a plan that can become your new way of living!