By Allegra Pearl
Before setting off on your vegan journey, there are a few key things one must know. In addition to finding some yummy recipes and stocking up on delicious vegan ingredients, we recommend keeping the following things to help make your transition as easy and fun as possible.
1. Get your nutrition facts straight
Contrary to popular belief, most vegans don’t ever have any issues with protein! That being said, there are a few things you should generally keep in mind. Disclaimer - we aren’t doctors or nutritionists, if you’re worried then be sure to book an appointment to make sure you’re on the right track. Everyone’s needs are a little different! Vitamin B12 is one of the main things you’ll likely want to supplement when you go vegan. It’s an essential nutrient that can be found in some fortified plant milks and some specific foods like nutritional yeast, but it’s important enough that you’ll probably want to supplement either way just in case.
The second thing you’ll want to keep an eye on is your Vitamin D. A lot of Canadians are deficient in this in general, but it’s something you should look into supplementing especially in the winter to keep your energy levels up! The final thing is your omega-3s, this is an essential amino acid that you definitely don’t want to forget about. You can easily get your daily requirement in by consuming a Tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds daily, I put them in my smoothie or oatmeal every morning. Other sources of omega-3s are walnuts or brussel sprouts, but those aren’t things that are quite as easy to incorporate. It’s great to get your vitamins right from the source, but if you want to cover your bases, a supplement is a simple thing you can add to your morning routine to put your mind at ease.
If you want to learn more about nutrition, I’d recommend checking out the book “How Not to Die” by Micheal Gregor which goes over all the essential foods and nutrients you should aim to consume daily! He’s also got a handy app called “the Daily Dozen'' which you can get for free which can act as a great guide. Especially if you’re just setting off on your vegan journey.
2. You might mess up - and that's ok
We’ve all been there - you’ve just eaten a bag of chips and you casually glance over at the ingredients and the last one is “milk ingredients.” It’s happened to all of us at some point, especially in the beginning. The important thing to remember is that making these mistakes doesn’t make you any less vegan. Instead of throwing your hands up in the air and giving up, just dust yourself off and make sure to buy a different brand of chips next time. It’s good to get in the habit of checking ingredients - things like gelatin, whey powder, lactase, honey and other sneaky little ingredients sometimes show up in the randomest products. Thankfully it gets easier, but know that even longtime vegans mess up sometimes and that’s ok.
3) You can still be a foodie
Being a vegan and being a foodie are not mutually exclusive. Eliminating animal products from your diet does not eliminate flavour or taste. However, it does expose you to a whole new world of cuisine, filled with incredible dishes. With the demand for vegan products increasing, more and more vegan options are dominating the market. Ben & Jerry's, Beyond Meat, Treeline Cheese, Gardein and Silk are just a few examples of brands producing delicious plant-based products that can be found at more and more grocery stores. These vegan meat and dairy replacements are really helpful when making the transition.
4. Your journey is unique to you
People approach going vegan in different ways - some people go vegan overnight while others start by cutting out different animal products bit by bit. Your transition towards going vegan is your journey and you can take it at whatever pace, along whatever path you choose, but make sure you keep that end goal in mind.
Whether it takes you one day, one month or a one year to make the transition, it is a worthwhile endeavour that you should be proud of. Stay tuned for next month’s blog post on the top plant-based protein sources you need to try!