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Making the switch to veganism can seem almost impossible to many people. Vegans eschew all animal products in their diet, meaning they avoid all meats, dairy, and eggs. Many vegans also avoid honey, and some vegans even avoid foods that were at any time processed with animal products, such as many refined white sugars, which may use bone char filters in the refining process.
There are two main things you have to concern yourself with when you’re trying to switch to veganism: health and pleasure. It’s important to make sure that after you switch to veganism you get all of the various vitamins and minerals in your diet that you need, don’t rely too heavily on carbohydrates to meet your cravings, and find ample protein. It’s also important that you continue to enjoy eating, and find foods that are able to fulfill some of your desires.
Eating healthily after making the switch to veganism is surprisingly easy. Despite the conventional wisdom, protein is actually readily available in most foods, including vegetables, and a well-balanced vegan diet will provide plenty of protein. If you’re supplementing your diet with any legumes, such as soy or other nuts, or with any fake meats made from pure wheat protein, you’ll likely be getting well over the amount you need daily after you switch to veganism.
Many people after their switch to veganism find themselves with lower levels of the vitamins D, B2, and B12, as well as calcium and iodine. This can be problematic if not looked after, although it should be noted that a number of omnivores also have deficiencies in these same vitamins and minerals, so the problem does not necessarily stem from the switch to veganism. Vitamin D is probably the hardest of these vitamins to meet as a vegan, as naturally it occurs in animal products. Vitamin D is naturally synthesized by the body in response to exposure to the sun, but in the modern world many of us don’t spend enough time outdoors to meet our vitamin D needs. As a result, many vegan foods, such as margarines and soy milks, are fortified with vitamin D, and vegan-suitable vitamin D capsules may also be used.
Vitamin B12 is also problematic after making the switch to veganism, as it is unlikely that it occurs in a form usable by humans in any plant matter. As a result, it is important to supplement vitamin B12 in one way or another. Nutritional yeasts, margarines, and soy milks are all often fortified with B12, and a number of multivitamins contain B12. Vitamin B2 is available in vegetable matter, as is calcium and iodine, so it is just a matter of eating the right foods. It’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting enough dark leafy greens, mushrooms, and sea vegetables, as these three types of food will help provide plenty of the needed vitamins and minerals.
Some people have no problem making the switch to veganism when it comes to missing certain foods. These people find they prefer a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and mushrooms, served as whole foods or in stir-fries and other simple preparations. Others find they miss meat and dairy immensely. For this latter sort of vegan, there are vegan substitutes for most foods imaginable. Vegan pudding, vegan milk, vegan cheese, vegan chicken, vegan sausage, vegan turkey, all can be found in a local health food store. And while some may not taste exactly like their animal-derived counterpart, or may have a slightly different texture, with a bit of experimentation you’ll eventually find substitutes that fill your most extreme cravings, and making the switch to veganism sustainable in the long run.