In recent years, the vegan movement has gained considerable traction, particularly among younger people keen on exploring the health and environmental benefits of cutting animal products from their diet.
Indeed, in 2020, interest in the vegan lifestyle has hit an all-time high and data provided by Google Trends suggests veganism is now twice as popular as it was five years ago – with no signs of slowing anytime soon.
A diet that benefits both the individual and the environment
Research has found that cutting meat and dairy products could be the single biggest way we could reduce climate change and mitigate our environmental impact on the earth. A study by researchers at the UK’s Oxford University discovered that following a vegan diet could cut our individual carbon footprint by as much as 73% – but just how should we approach veganism and what are the best ways to ensure we stick to a new, meat and dairy-free diet? Read on for some top tips to help you succeed in adopting the vegan lifestyle.
Do some preparatory research: The scope and range of food now available for vegans has changed considerably over the last few years so you should do some research to find out what foods and recipes appeal to you most. You should also check online for healthy vegan meal ideas that give you a balanced diet to ensure your body still gets the nutrients it needs. Also, don’t forget to check the full range of vegan lifestyle products now on offer – you’ll find a massive variety including everything from vegan-certified clothing to a shaving brush suitable for vegans.
Choose your own pace: Some people find it easiest to immediately cut meat and dairy from their diet but, for many others, a slow transition works better. Decide which pace is likely to work best for you and, if you choose to slowly make the change, perhaps try cutting certain meats on a weekly basis – for example, drop red meat in week one, poultry in the second week, fish the week after, etc.
Start with simple meals and build up: Making the transition away from meat and dairy products can seem a little strange to start with but that doesn’t mean you need to make things overly complicated to compensate for these missing food groups. Rather, start with simple recipes and slowly build up to more complicated dishes. Many first-timers get dissuaded by failing at cooking complex recipes so, instead, start basic and increase slowly.
Expect body changes – and embrace them: Our bodies take time to adapt to any new diet and you will likely experience some changes as you cut meat and dairy. While everyone is different, you will probably feel the effects of the diet change during the first two weeks and you may experience altered energy levels or even slight headaches. Try not to worry too much as these symptoms typically clear quickly. However, if you’re sufficiently stressed, perhaps consider consulting a health specialist for advice.
Remember to read food labels: Animal-based products appear in a huge variety of our common foods so remember to thoroughly read packaging labels. In some cases, you might find manufacturers put a simple ‘suitable for vegans’ notice on their foods but, if not, you will need to carefully study the ingredients list. Alternatively, you could download vegan cell phone apps that will automatically scan labels to let you know if food contains animal ingredients – and can even give you suggestions for recipe ideas.