Noticed #vegan posts are taking up your newsfeed this month? Have half your office or social group changed their diet to be more “plant-based”? Are you wondering what this whole Game Changers chat is about? You’re not alone. January is the time for Veganuary, the month long, non-profit led initiative that promotes following a vegan diet for 31 days.
Motivations to adopt a vegan diet and lifestyle vary from health concerns to animal welfare, environmental reasons to those keen to follow the trend, however it is estimated that between 2014 and 2019, the number of people adopting to a vegan diet has jumped by 400% and that over 300,000 people have already signed up to the #veganuary campaign!
So now that #veganuary has got your, and the nations, attention, how do you adopt a vegan diet? Our nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr shares her top tips:
Know your protein sources
Protein is vital for every cell in the body and required for muscle generation and repair, hormone creation, enzyme production and plays a part in skin, hair, nail and bone health. With inadequate protein consumption, you may be left feeling fatigued and low in mood.
Additionally, protein keeps us full and fuelled. Often, when people transition to plant focused diets they can find they feel significantly hungrier, which can be the result of lowered protein intake.
Protein is made up of 9 essential amino acids, which we must obtain through our diets. A complete protein is one which contains all of these amino acids. Examples include red meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.
To get adequate protein in a vegan diet, you will need to be organised!
There are a few complete proteins available on the vegan diet including quinoa, buckwheat, tofu and tempeh. However, many of the other vegan protein sources only contain a few of the essential amino acids, so you will want to pair up your sources to cover all amino acid bases. For example, consider these complementary sources: black beans with brown rice, homous and wholemeal pitta bread, lentil dahl topped with seeds.
Prep is key when it comes to adopting a vegan diet. Although we are incredibly lucky to have so many outlets to buy our food from, sourcing well balanced vegan options on the run can be challenging.
When possible, batch cooking and prepping your food in advance will help save you time, money and effort. If you’re lucky enough to have some time on a Sunday, commit to getting into the kitchen and cook a few dishes to fall back on for the week. Prep one grain dish (i.e. quinoa), one veggie dish (i.e. roasted Mediterranean veg) and one protein rich dish (i.e. beans/lentils).
Be mindful of nutritional deficiencies
If you plan to follow a vegan/plant-based diet for the long term, you will need to be mindful that certain nutrients such as B12, Iron, Calcium, Iodine and Vitamin D are difficult to obtain from plant foods. For example, B12 is a crucial vitamin required for energy production and can only be found in animal foods. Therefore, most vegans and vegetarians are advised to consider supplementing with B12 to avoid risk of deficiency.
If you are considering a long-term dietary change, it is always advisable to consult with a nutritionist or health care practitioner to ensure you are not at risk of deficiencies or malnutrition.