Saturday, 9 December 2017

Tips for going Vegan or Vegetarian

Transitioning into a plant-based diet might seem scary or dramatic at first, but once you start incorporating little things into your routine it gets fairly easy. 
First of all, do your research. A good introduction to veganism are documentaries like Cowspiracy, Forks Over Knives or Earthlings, but take them with a grain of salt. Look into other reliable sources but don't get too overwhelmed with the amount of information you find, you need to be realistic in what you can change right now and what you can gradually introduce into your life.
I would also recommend these short videos by Erin Janus about the dairy and egg industry:

Once you've researched about the importance of veganism and the impact of consuming animals products, you're ready to start making a few lifestyle changes. To help you during that process, here are a few tips:

1 - When transitioning to veganism don't be afraid to make mistakes, there is no such thing as a perfect vegan, it's a constant learning process. But don't let that be an excuse for you not to make a conscious effort to search for new information or work on self-improvement.

2 - It might seem like a huge effort before you get into it, but after a few weeks you get so used to it that you don't even think about it as being a restriction, as most people think of it, you just get so passionate and happy about your choice that you want to share it with the world.

3 - Get your blood checked every few months or every year, and this should go for everyone, but especially if you make a drastic change in your diet. Being vegan or eating more vegetables doesn't mean you are automatically healthy, you need a diverse diet to get all the nutrients your body needs. If you have a deficiency in some vitamins or minerals just research vegetables, fruits or seeds rich in what you lack and start including them in your diet.

4 - It's important to talk to your doctor if you plan on changing your diet. Some doctors don't agree with vegetarianism and veganism and will advise you against it, and if that is the case, look for a vegan friendly nutritionist in your area, this isn't really necessary but it is helpful.

5 - Research about different foods and nutrients. Always have some rice, pasta, potatoes and chickpeas, lentils or beans at home and eat different vegetables. Look for different recipes online, experiment with different cooking methods and use different seasonings and sauces. You can also start mixing them or making your own sauces, I like soy sauce mixed with peanut butter for pasta and coconut milk with turmeric, curry and pepper for stir-fries. Soon enough you'll get used to cooking vegetables in a variety of different ways. Don't get discouraged if your favorite recipes aren't vegan, vegetable are super versatile, you can veganize anything.
If you feel lost and don't know what or how to cook, here are some youtube channels that have some simple recipes that can help you get into a plant-based diet:

6 - Start including some super-foods into your diet like chia seeds, flax seeds or goji berries, it's important to make sure you're getting your essential amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fats. You can sprinkle them in your rice, mix them in your soup or even make deserts with them. You don't have to start eating avocados everyday, even tho they're really good too.

7 - If you want to try out vegan alternatives to milk, cheese, burgers or anything else, try a few different brands, you might not find something you love the first couple of times but, again, don't get discouraged, there are a lot of different options out there that are exactly what you are looking for.

8 - Get used to reading labels and identifying ingredients, sometimes things you don't expect to have animal products might have them, for example, something that says dairy-free or lactose-free doesn't necessarily mean it's vegan, some sugar is refined with bone char, some beer brands use isinglass, some wine brands use animal blood, a lot of foods can contain gelatin, carmine, castoreum, etc. This also becomes a habit and, of course, if you keep re-purchasing the same products over and over you don't need to keep doing this. If you don't know some of the ingredients or you're looking for a quick and easy way to avoid doing this, there are a few apps for your phone that can help you identify if something is vegan or not by simply scanning the barcode.

Common myths:

♥ Lack of protein
You can get all the protein you need from beans, chickpeas, leafy greens, etc. Plants are great sources of protein and this is definitely not something you need to worry about. The only nutrient you have to be more cautious about is B12. B12 is found in dirt and soil, and even tho you don't need a lot of this vitamin, industrially washed vegetables might not have adequate levels of B12, but you can easily find it in fortified plant-based milks, some breakfast cereal or in small-scale locally produced vegetables. If you still think it might be necessary, consider taking some B12 supplements.

♥ Only eating soy and salad
Unlike everyone thinks, most vegetarians and vegans don't eat soy or salad every single day. It's everywhere and you get sick of it pretty quickly.

♥ It's expensive
A vegan diet is not more expensive than a conventional one, if anything, it's cheaper to cook vegan at home than to buy animal products all the time. The only items that are expensive are novelty items, things we don't really eat everyday, like processed fake meats or on-the-go frozen foods. I only spend a bit more money on plant-based milks, but it's totally worth it, there are tons of options, some more neutral-tasting like oat milk or rice milk, or sweeter ones like almond milk. Overall you spend a lot less if the only things you are buying daily are vegetables, which are usually just a few cents each.

Personally, I think every little thing helps. Not everyone thinks this way, but I genuinely appreciate any effort to reduce meat consumption. Even if you still eat meat, try some vegan food once in a while, support vegan options at restaurants and supermarkets, every dollar you spend is a vote.
If you are already vegetarian, choosing a vegan meal at a restaurant is always a better option than a vegetarian one, because you are creating an option that is viable for both, which is still very rare to find.
Go to local farmers' markets and support local farmers because they are a better and more nutrient-dense option than buying industrially produced vegetables.
Stay focused on your goal and keep reminding yourself why you want to be plant-based, stay passionate about this cause and compassionate towards others. 


  1. Extremely useful article !
    Have a nice day! :)

  2. Amazing post! Really interesting!

  3. Gostei imenso do post! Deste ótimas dicas!
    Apesar de não pensar tornar-me vegetariana ou vegan, ando a tentar reduzir o meu consumo de carne! :)

    1. obrigado * recomendo mesmo que vejas um ou dois daqueles primeiros documentários que referi, mesmo que não tenhas intenções de te tornar vegan, têm algumas informações importantes ^^