Chances are if you are reading this article, then you are somewhat familiar with the term vegan. Whether you have heard it in passing through your day to day life, on television, or maybe even know of a family member who became vegan, I want to take this opportunity to demystify veganism once and for all as well as break down how to be a vegan yourself.
Before getting into the nitty gritty I want to note that this is not something you will incorporate into your life overnight, it will take some time and dedication on your part. This is completely okay and it is completely normal. Everyones lifestyle is different and our bodies are all unique. Some people may be able to adapt to becoming a vegan in a matter of months while others may take years. It is a transitional process and I will provide you with helpful tips on making the transition as smoothly as possible.
I want to be clear moving ahead that you understand going vegan is a lifestyle change, not just another “diet”. That might sound scary, but I assure you it isn’t as intimidating as it might appear to be. There are certainly various components to a vegan lifestyle, which I will touch on briefly in this article, however, my purpose with OneFitVegan.com is to focus on one specific component of the vegan lifestyle: health & fitness. I know, shocking right?
So What Is Veganism?
To put it in the most easy to understand way, a vegan is someone who does not consume animal products. There are the more obvious products such as animal meat, fur, and skin that come to mind & the not so obvious products like laundry detergent, plastic bags, and sugar. Yes seriously, laundry detergent, plastic bags, and sugar. Look it up!
What I mean by consume isn’t only in the most literal sense of eating, but also in terms of buying (as a consumer). There are literally thousands, if not millions, of products that are made with or from animal products or animal by-products beyond just the foods we eat. Even things like cosmetics & perfume can contain animal derived ingredients.
It is important to know that veganism is not just a philosophy about living a cruelty-free life with regard to animals, it is also about the diet that goes along with it. It is a plant-based diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
The Health Benefits
Eating a plant-based vegan diet can have a tremendously positive impact in your overall health & wellness. These benefits alone are motivation enough for most to consider becoming a vegan. I will list some top health benefits, some of which I have personally experienced during my transition from an animal-based diet to the plant-based vegan diet.
Some things you can expect to experience:
- weight loss
- lowered blood pressure & cholesterol
- higher energy levels
- more restful sleep
- lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, & cancers
- improved kidney function
- prevention of osteoporosis & arthritis
- higher vitamin & mineral intake
- migraine & allergy relief
- reduced toxins in the body
- lower dependency on prescription drugs
*As a disclaimer I am not a health expert in any way. Please consult with your physician before making any changes to your diet.*
Start Small, One Animal At A Time
So what’s the best place to start? Where does someone interested in becoming a vegan take the first step? The answer is simple: start small with one animal at a time from home. I recommend you begin your vegan journey at home because your home is where you likely feel most comfortable and do not have to face ridicule or questioning as to what or why you are doing what you are doing. In fact this is the approach I took and it is what I found to work best.
The first thing I would do is take an inventory and just glance over what is in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. The goal here is to locate the most obvious sources of animal products in your diet. Once you have a general idea of what you eat and drink regularly, say chicken & milk, find a vegan alternative for replacement. For this example it could be soy based chicken strips & almond milk. Boom! You just knocked out two animal products in your diet and replaced them with plant based alternatives!
In the beginning, this is the route I would recommend as it has the least amount of what I call “diet shock” which is where someone panics by switching up their entire diet too fast and end up reverting back to their original diet due to comfort and familiarity. You do not want to go through “diet shock” and lose the progress made up to that point, so taking small steps to incorporate a plant-based diet is key to making the diet a lifestyle. In no time you will find yourself craving plant-based foods habitually.
Go At Your Own Pace
HOLD UP! One of the most important factors when becoming a vegan is to realize that this is not a race. Think of it as a marathon. You want to make sure you are becoming a vegan first and foremost for yourself, because it is what you want and believe in. Even if Gary and Sarah went vegan in two months, you don’t want to base your transition on their timeline. It was what worked for them, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be the same for you. The sooner you become at peace with & acknowledge this the less stress and anxiety you will feel moving forward, getting you closer to becoming vegan. There is no way of knowing how long it will take, but the likelihood is that it will be between months and years. The key is to make small improvements over time, like I mentioned above, regarding diet to stay on track.
Say Hello to A Healthier You
I truly hope that you have found some value in what I have provided here in this article, in breaking down and demystifying what veganism is and how to be a vegan yourself if you so choose. If anything, now you are aware of the many health benefits you can expect when going to a plant-based diet. Through small dietary changes that you can make at your own pace, you too can do this! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post them below.
Cheers to your journey, the path to a healthier you!