How to Become Vegan
Before we look at how to become vegan, we first need to establish the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian.
By definition, vegetarians are people who abstain from the consumption of meat and any by-products of animal slaughter. The vegetarian diet may or may not include fish, eggs and dairy; this is up to the vegetarian individual.
Vegans on the other hand, in addition to being vegetarians, avoid all other animal products including honey, beeswax and dairy. Depending on the reason for adopting the vegan lifestyle, some vegans avoid furs, silk, leather, wool and any cosmetics containing animal products as well.
Reasons for Becoming Vegan
Reasons for becoming a vegan vary. Some adopt the vegan lifestyle for the health benefits, as the vegan diet is usually cholesterol-free and low in saturated fat; while others become vegans for ethical reasons. For example, many vegans believe abstaining from consuming animal products promotes a more humane and caring world. These vegans are against slaughtering and using animals for human benefit.
One interesting variety of veganism is raw veganism. The raw vegan diet combines the concepts of veganism and raw-foodism. It excludes all products of animal origin, as well as cooked food. The definition of a raw vegan diet can be loosened to include vegan diets with at least 75–80% raw foods.
How to Become Vegan
To know how to become vegan, you first need to understand why vegans choose to live the way they do and see if you identify with those reasons. If you aren’t a vegetarian already, the next step is to become an ovo-lacto vegetarian (a vegetarian that eats fish, eggs and dairy).
The aim is to eradicate animal products slowly, so as to not regress and allow them back into to your diet shortly after you choose to lead a vegan lifestyle. Ideally, you should spend 4 months as an ovo-lacto vegetarian before you move on to the next step; which is excluding fish, eggs and dairy from your diet.
Spend as much time as you need in the “Strict Vegetarian” stage. The most difficult part of the transition is now over. By this stage, you would have already started experiencing the health benefits of this lifestyle.
When you feel ready, you can move on to the next stage of the transition process. That is excluding animal products and by-products in their entirety. This shouldn’t be difficult. You just need to pay a little more attention to the consumables you buy, keeping on the look-out for animal fat because it tends to be an ingredient in products you wouldn’t expect, such as soap.
The Importance of Protein
One important thing to keep in mind is that without meat and eggs, your body isn’t getting the amount of protein its used to. So it is up to you to make sure you compensate for this and have a nutritionally balanced diet. An easy way to do this is to increase your intake of protein-rich foods such as potatoes, whole-wheat bread, legumes, quinoa, green leafy vegetables such as spinach.
Also, by adopting a vegan diet, you completely deprive your body of Vitamin D, so compensate for this by getting at least 10-15 minutes of sunlight on your hands or face, two to three times a week.
The vegan lifestyle is a very rewarding one. In addition to being healthy, you’ll also be making a positive impact on the environment. There are many vegan support groups you can join to make your transition a little easier such as our Facebook Fan Page.
Other great communities can also be found online as they can provide helpful tips on how to keep your diet nutritionally balanced and where to find vegan-friendly food and products.
Becoming a vegan will be easier with the help of other fellow vegans so be sure to visit our Fan Page any other group you feel comfortable with.
Good luck on your vegan journey!