Mistakes are inevitable when it comes down to trying out diets and committing mistakes in the vegan diet is no exception. We have all been there. We see a diet trend, we jump on the bandwagon, and shortly after, realize we got the whole thing wrong from the very beginning.
If you are transitioning to a plant based diet from the SAD (Standard American Diet), chances are giving up your beloved bacon and eggs breakfast could have been a significant challenge.
It is hard – no doubt about that. The first few days, weeks or even months, require your body to make adjustments to a whole new set of nutrients being replaced for the animal products which are now entirely off-limits.
You will be cranky, frustrated and some days even way too hard on yourself for choosing the plant based lifestyle. I am here to tell you that your sentiments and feelings are deeply valued and appreciated and that with these following 3 points, you could be bettering your experience of transitioning into a vegan.
With these mistakes that I have personally made in my journey of becoming a vegan, I have learned 3 valuable things, which I feel every vegan beginner should learn from
With an entire food group completely removed from your food pyramid, it is every amateur vegan’s common mistake to eat very little calories. This could be mainly because vegans are still getting their bodies used to depending on plant-based protein, calcium, iron, and vitamins for nutrients, instead of animal products – which is a challenge in it of itself.
The truth is, meat, chicken, eggs and a long list of dairy products tend to be more caloric than non-animal substitutes, making it increasingly challenging for beginners to meet their daily calorie targets.
Amongst all other diet groups, vegan fitness minded individuals have been proven to have the lowest calorie intake, in which they consume a whopping 600 calories less than individuals who consume both meat and plants.
I admit that in the initial stages of transitioning, vegans can struggle with reaching their calorie targets. However, calories are an essential source of energy for the body – if restricting too many calories for too long then that can have a negative impact to health disorders and side effects such as low energy levels, nutrient deficiencies and slowed metabolism.
I suggest slowly bulking up on vegan-friendly high calorie foods such as potatoes, rice, quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, and beans to ensure you are hitting your daily goals.
Vegan Food Does NOT Necessarily Mean Healthy Food
A common mistake every vegan makes when they first start out – ‘its vegan so it must be default be healthy’. As much as I want to agree with that notion, it is simply not true. If that were the case, I’d be the first in line to purchase boxes and boxes of vegan cookies and cakes – but sadly, it’s not the case.
‘But it’s vegan, how unhealthy can it be?’ A lot of the time, we get sucked in marketing gimmicks played out by companies into thinking that every vegan donut, ice cream, and fake cheese equals good health. However, many of us don’t realize that at the end of the day, these are just marketing strategies of companies working to increase their revenues by capitalizing on a growing market.
The reality is, these plant basedfoods that are replacing their traditional processed ancestors are simply processed foods. Real foods are whole foods that usually don’t come in packaged boxes.
And even though you may be tempted to justify your reasoning for choosing vegan junk food, know that it doesn’t hold any substantial nutritional value. Those types of foods are just an indulgence, and nothing more.
The best way to enjoy vegan junk food is to make it yourself from scratch. Whether it is those juicy burgers you are craving for or a plate of meaty spaghetti Bolognese, anything is possible with the help of Pinterest and Instagram!
A great way to help curve cravings and ensure you’re hitting your target nutritional values is to meal prep. My wife and i sit down every Sunday morning and detail out EVERY meal that we are going to cook the following week. Sure, it will be a nuisance at first in meal prepping vegan food for the entire week, but trust me, your body will thank you for it later. Focus on the quality of nutrients you are feeding your body and not the taste your taste buds would start dancing to. Oh, and another great thing. You will be saving a ton of money with preparing delicious, healthy and fresh vegan food at home – truly, a win-win situation.
Unarguably, protein is one of the most essential macro-nutrients needed for your body to carry out its daily bodily functions – without which, your body is sure to experience some unbearable bodily symptoms. It is essential for muscle strength, tissue build-up and the stabilizing of hormones and enzymes.
When consuming plant-based protein, you can instantly feel a lot fuller and replenished thanks to its satiating trait. Bulking up on plant-based protein is all the more necessary if you are an athlete and require increased muscle mass, follow the plant based fitness. Filling your stomach with wholesome vegan protein also promotes a reduction of those pesky cravings you tend to get when towards the end of the day.
All in all, consuming plant-based protein is beneficial for every aspect of your health. With plant-based protein, many vegans notice healthier, fuller hair, clear skin, and notice a dramatic difference in their waist size.
To make sure you are meeting your daily protein requirement, stock up on plant-based proteins such as lentils. One cup of cooked lentils can easily amount to a whopping 18 grams of protein– and when paired with other nutritious foods such as tofu and tempeh, you are bound to feel completely stuffed.
I think we all understand how important protein is, but it is not necessarily something that we need to worry about when eating a plant based diet. Plants have plenty of proteins in them, and as along as you are consuming enough calories, you should be fine knowing that you’re plant based diet already has an adequate amount protein in it. However, when starting out on a plant based diet, you may want to incorporate as much protein as possible for each meal. Your body needs time to transition and adapt to its new and improved source of protein. Below is a great chart in understanding your basic plant-based proteins and how much of it you should be consuming.
A plant based diet is optimal for your health. If you happen to be in transition mode now then I hope you will avoid these three common pitfalls when starting a plant based diet!