In praise of veganism: From fad to growing food habit

November 01 2017

Veganism as a concept comes from a sense of responsibility towards animals and animal products and towards the need for a healthier lifestyle. In a world where people are looking to turn to healthier foods and lifestyles, veganism could just be the need of the hour.

While many have considered turning vegan at some point, the most predominant reason people do not go through with it is the struggle to maintain a vegan diet. However, being conscious and keeping these few things in mind can help achieve success in your effort to become a vegan:

1. Don't forget to include protein in your diet: Once you give up the meats, eggs and milk products, you may end up depriving your body of this essential nutrient. While plant-based foods can provide you the required amount, remember to include adequate amounts in your daily diet.

For example: almonds are a source of 15 nutrients, including essential ones such as protein. In fact, these nuts are a richer source of protein when compared with other nuts. Hence, snacking smart with almonds is a great way to start leading a healthy lifestyle.

2. Don't limit your food choices, find alternatives: You may assume becoming vegan would mean fewer food options. This, however, is a myth. There are alternatives for almost everything. For instance, milk can be replaced with soya or almond milk. Eggs and cottage cheese (paneer) can be swapped with tofu, and meats can be replaced with soya chunks or nuggets. While it does take a little getting used to, but once you do, you may not even miss what you have left behind.

3. Reduce dependency on processed snacks: It is easy to fall prey to the processed food available off the shelves, when hungry, in between your meals. However, processed food is usually high in sodium or sugars which make them unhealthy.

Hence, reduce the intake of processed foods by carrying your snack with you. Vegan foods like sunflower/flax seeds and almonds are fuss free, convenient snacks that can be eaten anywhere and at any time of the day. Whether at home, work or on the go, snacking of these alternatives instead of unwholesome snacks, can make a healthy difference to your life.

4. Drinking water is not passé: While veganism does increase your consumption of fruits, including those with a high water content, you must still strive to consume at least two litres of water every day. If you get bored or tired of drinking plain water, you can mix it up by adding slices of citrus fruits like lemon, sweet lime and/or orange or add mashed fruits like strawberries, cranberries, or even just fresh mint leaves with slices of cucumber.

5. Start small and stay positive: Going vegan suddenly can be a big adjustment for your body and may end up making you uncomfortable. Try starting your transition by being a part-time vegan -- keep one meal/snack time in a day in which you will consume moderate servings of non-vegan food items that you have been used to like chicken, fish or eggs.

Gradually decrease your cheat days from once a day to once a week and so on till your body has transitioned successfully into the vegan diet. Eating fresh, healthy food and exercising regularly can help bring positivity and stay calm.

This World Vegan Day, let us celebrate the compassion that vegans feel towards animals and their own bodies and let us also make a conscious effort to make our lives healthier and fulfilled.

(Madhuri Ruia is a nutritionist. The views expressed are personal. She can be contacted at ruia.madhuri@gmail.com )

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