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Are you ready to go Vegan?

 

For many, deciding to go vegan can be a big lifestyle change. Maybe you’re looking to eat more healthy foods to better a health concern, or maybe you’re just trying to be more environmentally friendly. Either way, deciding to change your diet to plant-based foods requires a little bit of research and a few meal adjustments.

Although being vegan or veganism has been around for quite some time, it has only recently become more mainstream in society as more people explore plant-based diet options. In fact, restaurants, grocery stores and even some major fast food restaurants, such as Chipotle, Taco Bell and Burger King, now serve vegan options on the menu. So, what’s all the hype about? Is going vegan more of a trend than trying to be environmentally conscious? Let’s take it down to the basics.

What is Veganism?

A vegan diet, according to Vegan.com, “excludes all foods produced by or derived from animals: meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey. Conversely, you can define veganism as a diet based entirely on plants.”

Per the Vegan Society, nearly 2,000 years ago is when there were first signs of humans choosing to avoid animal products. And, as early as 500 BCE, Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras “promoted benevolence among all species and followed what could be described as a vegetarian diet,” as well as Buddha discussing vegetarian diets among his followers near the same time. But the first concepts of veganism came around 1806 CE when Dr. William Lambe and Percy Bysshe Shelley were one of the first to object to eggs and dairy on “ethical grounds.”

Fast forward to November 1944, Donald Watson met with five other “non-dairy vegetarians” to discuss a more modern day vegan lifestyle, which is where much of the way of eating comes from today and even coined the term “vegan.” According to the Vegan Society, “They settled on ‘vegan’, a word that Donald Watson later described as containing the first three and last two letters of ‘vegetarian’. In the words of Donald Watson, it marked ‘the beginning and end of vegetarianism’.”

Why someone would choose to go vegan is usually based on a few different areas. Some choose to go vegan due to ethical reasons, such as believing that all creatures have the right to life and freedom. Especially when they are alternative options, vegans oppose ending a conscious being’s life simply to consume it. Vegans also stand for ending animal cruelty and oppose the psychological and physical stress that animals might endure as a result of modern farming practices.

The other reasons why someone might choose to become vegan typically involve health reasons and environmental impacts. There have been studies shown that plant-based diets may help reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and premature death. And, people may choose to avoid animal products because of the environmental impacts of animal agriculture.

Or maybe your favorite Instagram or TikTok influencers decided to give plant-based foods a try and enjoy it, and now you’re looking to do the same – whatever the case may be, there are some things that you need to know before trying it out.

How to Transition to being Vegan

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Before starting your voyage on plant-based foods, it’s good to research and know what you’re getting into. And, according to vegan.com, you don’t have to change your food choices drastically overnight. It can be an easy, smooth transition of figuring it all out before quitting altogether. Or, if you really feel like a dramatic change has to happen, you can go that route as well.

Interestingly enough, there are several different types of veganism. Prominent types of this lifestyle include:

  • Dietary vegans: Often used interchangeably with “plant-based eaters,” this term refers to those who avoid animal products in their diet but continue to use them in other products, such as clothing and cosmetics
  • Whole-food vegans: These individuals favor a diet rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Junk-food vegans: Some people rely heavily on processed vegan food, such as vegan meats, fries, frozen dinners and desserts, including Oreo cookies and non-dairy ice cream
  • Raw-food vegans: This group eats only foods that are raw or cooked at temperatures below 118 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Low-fat, raw-food vegans: Also known as fruitarians, this subset limits high-fats foods, such as nuts, avocados and coconuts, instead of relying mainly on fruit. Other plants are occasionally eaten in small amounts

And although they’re different types of vegans, they all most certainly avoid meat, chicken, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy. Vegans might also avoid any animal-derived ingredients, such as albumin, casein, carmine, gelatin, pepsin, shellac, isinglass and whey, which typically come in some types of beer and wine, marshmallows, breakfast cereals, gummy candies and chewing gum.

There are several ways to dip-your-toes, so-to-speak, into going vegan. Vegan.com suggests viewing their easy vegan food lists and checking out some different websites and cookbooks that provide easy and delicious vegan meals.

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On many occasions, nurses are working long, exhausting hours while also possibly juggling going to school and furthering their education, as well as

If you’re like most meat-eating Americans, you may want to take the transition slower and follow some guidelines. According to ilovevegan.com, following these steps can make the transition easier:

  • Remove any animal products that you won’t miss in your diet
  • If you haven’t already, incorporate more whole grains, beans, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds in to your diet while simultaneously cutting down on the animal products that you’ll miss the least
  • You can gradually cut down on all animal products or remove one food/food group at a time
  • Remove barrier foods after you feel comfortable with all of the other changes in your diet
  • Pay attention to ingredient lists; you may find it easier to begin avoiding the less obvious animal derived ingredients one at a time. You can also choose to overlook them until you’ve removed all obvious animal products (meat, seafood, dairy products, eggs, etc.)

It might also be a good idea to read and follow blogs, social media accounts and other forms of information to make sure you are eating a balanced diet. Speaking of a balanced diet, veganism can bring on many short and long-term health benefits if you need a change in diets.

Benefits to Veganism

Not only by eating vegan are you becoming more environmentally conscious, but you are doing your body a favor. By eating vegan, you can lose weight in a healthy manner, maintain a healthy heart, protect yourself against type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. According to Healthline, it can also help with lowering your blood sugar levels and improve kidney function, as well as possibly help reduce pain from arthritis.

With these reasons, many choose to switch to a vegan diet and find they enjoy the results of feeling better. And with many diets, it might take a few months before seeing results, but it’s almost a guarantee that you will at least lose weight within the first few months of switching.

So whether you are fighting against animal cruelty or just trying a new change of pace with eating, going vegan might be a great decision to try and something you’ll end up enjoying and sticking with longer than you think.