So you are thinking of becoming a Vegan?
I have assisted many people in their path of being vegan. I am not a vegan myself. As an animal lover and earth conscious consumer I do try to make informed choices on where my meat, fish and dairy are sources and how. All arguments aside I am not likely to become a vegan but I see it as an important part of my practice to support those clients who choose to eliminate animal products from their diet.
If you are considering veganism I just like to share some supportive advice on what you might want to consider in the transition
Be organised: vegan diet is not a diet of convenience, you really need to have a weekly menu and shopping plan. If you are not stocked up on the essentials you risk eating toast and vegemite for dinner or a packet of chips for lunch. Get savvy and research vegan websites for meal ideas. Keep your pantry and fridge well stocked on the basics of legumes, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Make additional portions and freeze some, this assists when you are short of time. The vegans that I know that make it work are great cooks and put a great deal of effort into their diet.
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s): Vegans do find it harder to get enough of the good fats into their diet. So don’t start skimping on the good oils. Macadamia, coconut and olive oil are vital in your diet, so drown your vegetables in some and use them raw in smoothies. Plant based sources of EFA’s include: flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and spirulina. EFA’s are vital for your cognitive function, skin health and cellular functions. In clinic I prescribe plant based EFA’s that are derived from algae.
Protein: tofu, nuts and legumes do substitute most protein needs for vegans however it still can be hard to fill that gap. Consider using a plant based protein powder such as 180 Nutrition Pea Superfood. This can be used in smoothies, protein balls, porridge or vegan pancakes. If you find that you are either gaining weight or losing weight too rapidly when transitioning to a vegan diet it may be due to insufficient protein.
Vitamin B12: is in its most absorbable form only found in animal products. It is essential for nerve health, folate metabolism, memory and cognition and mental health. Any of my vegan clients are given B12 supplements, non-negotiable. It’s better to supplement from the start and you may never need to get injections.
Iron: it is probably not a bad idea to have your iron checked before you commence your rapid changes to your diet. If you iron is low, you should supplement to avoid deficiencies becoming an issue where you are likely to need iron infusions. Don’t be turned off by the old pharmaceutical grade iron supplements. Nutritionist recommend the most absorbable iron supplements that don’t cause constipation and bloating.
Vitamin D: if you are low in vitamin D consider the need to supplement. Plant based vitamin D supplements are available and are highly absorbable. Vitamin D is necessary for a vegan diet as dairy is omitted and to assist the plant sources of calcium being absorbed vitamin D is vital.
In making your decision to switch to a completely plant based diet consider making a consultation with a nutritionist. It may really make a difference whether you are able to continue on your path to being a vegan or having to abandon your values due to complications with nutritional deficiencies.