“I went vegan 3 years ago, and my reasons have evolved from health to ethical and environmental reasons. My vegan philosophy is compassion for all living beings”-Maureen Chioma.
A vegan diet is plant-based, which means vegans do not eat anything that comes from an animal. This includes meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products (milk, butter, cream, cheese), and honey.
A plant-based diet is very healthy as it is low in saturate fats and cholesterol and high in vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Studies show that many vegans suffer a lower rate of diet-related illnesses like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. as long as we eat a varied and balanced diet, all of our our bodies nutritional requirements can be obtained from plant-based foods. There are many different reasons for going (and staying) vegan. It could be for animal compassion, health reasons, weight loss (or gain, yes), environmental concerns. It is important to explore your reasons for going vegan so that you do not stumble at the first hurdle. Conviction is a great thing. Whether its for health or ethical reasons, viewing it as a “diet” is the easiest way to crash. Just think of it as consciously deciding what you are putting into your body, and how you are fuelling your body.I went vegan 3 years ago, and my reasons have evolved from health to ethical and environmental reasons. My vegan philosophy is compassion for all living beings. I’ve reaped numerous benefits from vegan living. Better skin, hair, and nails, more energy, better sleep, losing weight and then being able to maintain my weight while eating loads of delicious food, experimenting with and trying new and interesting foods, meeting other wonderful vegans online and in real life, changing my perspective on how I interact with the world I live in, you get the picture… I had to figure out a lot of things on my own, but I’ll share some tips that helped me on my journey.
- Some people go vegan overnight, and some ease into it. You can start by cutting out red meat, then dairy, eggs. etc. Eliminate animal products gradually, phasing out items by not buying more. You can start with a couple of vegan days a week, progress to a whole week, and then a month. You will notice the difference after a while!
- Regularly buy fresh fruit and vegetables. You can get in season produce for cheap at the local markets.
- Stock up your pantry with rice, beans, lentils, and potatoes. Canned items like chickpeas, coconut milk, peas, sweetcorn, etc. and frozen vegetables can also be a time saver.
- Supermarkets and grocery stores are stocking a wider selection of vegan products than ever before from non-dairy products to meat substitutes. You can get bread (whole, sliced, flat) without milk, eggs, or butter used.
- People always ask about potential deficiencies in the vegan diet. If you are eating varied and balanced meals, this is normally not an issue. Most people on traditional omnivorous diets do not eat nutritionally balanced meals. Proteincan be found in beans, lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and plant-based protein powders. B12can be found in fortified foods like non-dairy milk and nutritional yeast. Omega 3 can be sourced from chia, hemp, and flax seeds. Iron is plentiful in leafy greens like spinach and kale, lentils, beans, cashew nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, figs, raisins, and quinoa (you can increase absorption by consuming with Vitamin C). D3is best sourced from natural sunlight, but you can get vegan supplements in addition.
- Make a food timetable. These might help you structure your meals and how much food you’re making and consuming. It can be easy to go overboard when buying food, and we do not want to waste as a lot of fresh food can go off quickly. Cook some meals in bulk so that when you are hungry, you have something quick to heat up.
- Eating out can be difficult, but do not be scared to ask the staff to omit meat/milk/eggs/cheese from your food. Most restaurants would cooperate. You can mix and match appetisers and sides if the restaurant does not have a vegetarian/vegan menu. At parties and weddings you can have veggie spring rolls, puff puff, fried plantain (dodo).
- Tell your family, friends, colleagues, even share on social media! This can help hold you accountable to your goal. Join online groups and forums to feel connected to a community, and share your struggles and successes.
- Why do you want to go vegan/eat more vegan? Read up (Onegreenplanet, Peta), and watch vegan videos online and on Netflix (Forks Over Knives, What the Health, Food Choices, Cowspiracy).
Simple Breakfast Suggestions
- Oats with bananas, apple, or berries (For overnight oats, mix a couple handfuls of oat and some nondairy milk in a jar/mug. Sweeten with syrup to taste, and leave in the fridge for 6 hrs+ or overnight. Add chopped fruit over it when ready to serve).
- Bread/toast and peanut butter or jam
- Fruit smoothies
- Fry-up: scrambled tofu, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, diced potatoes and baked beans
- Akara or moi-moi without egg/fish
Simple Lunch Suggestions
- Baked potato with salad and baked beans
- Tortilla/Flatbread wrap with salad and hummus
- Sandwich with various fillings: hummus, avocado, tomato, cucumber, etc.
Simple Dinner Suggestions
- Spaghetti (or other pasta) with tomato sauce. You can also add vegan mince, peas, sweetcorn, or other diced vegetables
- Rice and tomato stew (made with vegetable stock)
- Vegetable curry (fried onions, chopped tomato, curry paste, coconut milk optional, and vegetables of choice like potatoes, aubergine, carrots)