10 tips for a healthy transition to a vegan diet

10 tips for a healthy transition to a vegan diet

I didn’t turn to a vegan diet cold turkey. I turned to a vegan diet out of necessity. I was vegetarian for many years. Yet I suffered from severe heartburn and reflux. It was BAD. At times, I felt like I was having a heart attack, and the pain was so unbearable that I thought I was going to die! Yes, it was as bad as that. Medication didn’t help. So I decided to eat alkaline food only. To my surprise, I was able to cure the heartburn and reflux by switching to a 100% plant based diet. I also started to sleep better. Last but not least, I was able to do proper hikes again. I happily transitioned to a vegan diet.

Because of all the pain and nausea, it was an easy choice for me. I started to focus on my health only. Because I felt so sick, I was happy enough if I managed to cook vegan and alkaline food for ​myself.

I know transitioning to a vegan diet is not easy for many people – yes, including myself. So, I made this list of 10 tips for a healthy transition to a vegan ​diet for you. I know these tips helped me, and I hope you find them useful, too. Enjoy.

Table of Contents1. Clean your kitchen2. Stock up your kitchen3. Baby steps 4. Eat what you like5. Cut down on processed foods6. Know your food.7. Make you meals easy and fun.8. Give up dairy9. Breakfast10. Go easy on yourself.Vegan cashew cheese

1. Clean your kitchen

When ​you empty your kitchen of unhealthy food choices, it’s easer ​to focus on healthy eating choices. Go through all your cupboards and fridge and get rid of everything that’s processed or not 100% plant based.

Foods in unopned packages can be donated to your local street kitchen. Everything else goes in the garbage bin.

2. Stock up your kitchen

Time to go shopping: buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables – this is a given. Here are items I always keep stocked in my cupboard:

  • ​Beans – any will do, ​like lentils and chickpeas – I prefer dried over canned.
  • Grains – I look for non-gluten types like quinoa and rice
  • Tofu
  • Nuts and seeds (flaxseed is #1 in my book)
  • Miso (fermented beans)
  • Vegetable stock (not necessary)
  • Nutritional yeast (not necessary)
  • Spices
  • ​Herbs, whatever is in season

3. Baby steps

Start slowly. My suggestion is that you add foods to your diet and not remove any, to begin with. Start by eating a salad before lunch for a week, then expand to a salad before lunch and before dinner for seven days. When you eat a salad before your meal, you will, without thinking about it, eat less. ​In the following week, eat 50 percent less junky food per meal. Into the third week, keep cutting down until you eliminate 75 percent of the junk. Finally, by the end of a month’s time, remove everything that’s not plant based.

4. Eat what you like

If you don’t like kale now, then you will not like kale when you transion to a vegan diet. Eat the fruits and veggies you like. And try new varieties to find new favorites.

5. Cut down on processed foods

Processed foods are bad for us, because they make us addicted to fat, sugar and salt. If you buy a lot of prepared meals, start cooking for yourself. ​Prepping your own lunch is easy, and you can find many videos online for creating easy vegan lunches. A few videos are added at the end of this post.

Drop the softdrinks. It’s time to drink water when you are thirsty and not drink sugar. A beer or wine occationally – vegan of course – and with a meal is a nice treat, if you drink.  You can find out if your favorites are vegan here.

6. Know your food.

Most of the commercial vegan products on the market such as fake burgers, meatballs, and cheese are processed foods and not healthy. Think saturated fat and excessive amino acids: these foods are often packed with highly refined oils, flours, sugars, and salts. Therefore, it’s better to indulge in these foods only once in a while. The good thing is, our bodies get addicted to what we eat most of. Be prepared! Your body will soon prefer fresh foods to processed. It’s pretty aweome when your body craves healthy vegan diet options, not junk.

7. Make you meals easy and fun.

Unless your hobby is cooking or you are a chef, I recommend you find easy and fast recipes. ​It’s easy to make your meals more exciting and fun, through online videos, posts, and vegan communities. I like to find vegan cookbooks to pore through.

8. Give up dairy

Now is the time to give up dairy, if you’re serious about a vegan diet. ​There are growing varieties of plant milks on the market. There are also vegan cheeses and dressings. During the transition period it can be good to buy those, but ​I do not recommended ​continuing to consume a lot as they are also processed. I have added a homemade cheese recipe at the end of this post. ​

9. Breakfast

​I did a smoothie diet challenge, and now all the greens goodness is a part of my morning routine. Overnight oats is a great thing to eat, in the summer fresh fruit and bread. Quinoa bowls is another fun thing to try. If you are stuck on bread or muffins still, try making your own plant-based quick breads or muffins tht are easy to freeze and take out a serving at  time as you need it.

10. Go easy on yourself.

You ate something non-vegan? don’t beat yourself up, just go back to your vegan diet immediately. Nothing bad happened, you are human. After my reflux was healed and I could eat “normal” again, I planned cheat meals, at the beginning once a week. Now I barely cheat more than once a month, if that. Remeber you are on a journey, not a race, but do remember to get some kind of exercise regularly.

Here’s an easy cheesy recipe for you:

Vegan cashew cheese

  • 1 cup of soaked cashew nuts
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 60 ml / 3-4 Tblsp. water
  • salt & pepper to taste

Pulse everything but the water – add the water little by little as needed.

Why 5 Reasons To Go Vegan is the Secret Ingredient

Why 5 Reasons To Go Vegan is the Secret Ingredient

Keep calm and go veganAre you thinking about changing your diets? Do you see the rise of veganism and do not understand the reasons why some people choose to go vegan? While changing to a different diet could be a personal choice and has no specific reason, here are five top reasons why to switch to veganism.

Animal rights
Many vegans attribute the change in their diet to counteract animal cruelty and as an opposition to killing animals for food. This is becoming more relevant recently as industrialised food production has reduced animals to basic confined objects in very crowded spaces and some harsh and inhumane conditions. There is also the simple reason that animals are living being and should not be exploited and killed for human consumption.

Environmental concerns
Raising cattle and other animals primarily for food production produces a high level of methane gas that has very severe environmental ramifications. In addition to that, raising animals for meat and dairy production requires the clear cut of large areas of land not only to raise the animals but to also to produce their feed. Furthermore, hormones and antibiotics are introduced into animals and therefore into the ecosystem.

Philosophical and ideological concerns
For many the choice to adopt veganism is based on philosophical or ideological reasons associated to a change in lifestyle. For some it is animal right, for other it is to feel at peace with nature and all its inhabitants.

Health concerns
Many people decide to switch to a vegan diet for health reasons. There has been some research to show that vegan diets are linked to better health, lower chance of getting lung and colorectal cancers and even a noticeable reduction in cardiovascular diseases. Plant-based foods also have a higher concentration of vitamins and antioxidants that are essential for a healthy and fresh looking skin. Furthermore, the body requires less energy to digest vegetables and legumes which makes you feel healthier and more energetic.

Cleaner and less processed foods
If you stick to wholesome products and cook for yourself you avoid a lot of chemicals and non-healthy ingredients that are usually added to meats and processed foods. While fertilizers and other chemicals can be used to grow vegetables, they do not get absorbed by your body in the same way and certainly do not accumulate as they would when eaten by animals that are higher on the food chain.

Vegan Health and Fitness for Advanced

Vegan Health and Fitness for Advanced

running athlete vegan dietThere is a common assumption that people who are on a vegan diet don’t get enough nutrients to be professional athletes or have an advanced level of physical activity. This assumption is actually based on the recurrent habit of famous athletes to go on a plant-based diet but switching back to eating meat, which reinforces the message that it is not good for your health.

However, athletes like Brendan Brazier are a living example of how this switch is completely possible to have a high fitness level on a plant-based diet.

Why is it difficult to be a vegan athlete?
The difficulty of this issue lies primarily in switching to a vegan diet. It is difficult especially that most vegetables and legumes generally have higher percentages of carbs and lower percentages of protein and hence the same quantity of food gives the recipient less nutrients and energy. Furthermore, you can be getting lower levels of calcium and sodium that are crucially important for athletes. Those deficiencies are at the root of three major problems.

Constant feeling of hunger: this is often the result of low protein and dietary fats. Our bodies need essential fats that are usually gained from dairy and other animal product but are more difficult to get from vegetables.
Muscles cramps: this is usually the result of low calcium and sodium levels, two minerals that vegans tend to have a deficiency in.
Low energy: this can be due to the lack of iron and other minerals. Hard physical activity depletes iron and can cause anemia.

What should an athlete do to address those problems?
While this can be a challenge, it is certainly a solvable problem despite the need for some persistence.
• Constant feeling of hunger: make sure to eat protein at every meal and for snacks. Other important ingredients include nuts and seeds oil that can help get all the essential oils and fats that the body needs.
• Muscle cramps: start adding salt to one or two meals each day to compensate for the loss of sodium and as for calcium it is important that you start eating almonds, bananas and green vegetables on almost every meal to compensate for the loss. Try supplements if you need to.
• Low energy: can be fought by eating beans, nuts and dried fruits that are high in iron. It is also a good practice to regularly your iron levels.


Vegan Health and Fitness for intermediate

Vegan Health and Fitness for intermediate

vegan and sportsDid you change to a plant based diet a while back? Are you looking to continue or resume your active lifestyle? Are you a fairly physically active individual and not sure how veganism is going to impact your lifestyle? Rest assured that as long as you eat properly you have nothing to worry about; in fact you might be doing your body a favour in switching to a plant-based diet.

How does veganism affect your fitness levels and performance?

If you undergo a moderate level of physical activity on a regular basis and have recently switched to a plant-based diet, you might notice some changes in your body and your overall performance. Those changes are often related to the way your body processes certain foods and to the fact that you suddenly might be eating less protein or not getting the whole protein combinations.

It can also be related to a lack of minerals and vitamins such as calcium and iron and essential fatty acids that are crucially needed for your muscle and bone development
as well as blood flow. However, this problem is not directly related to the diet itself but to how your administer it.

What changes do I need to be making?

First and foremost, it is crucially important that you understand the diet and how to eat properly as a vegan in order to avoid any potential health issues. Fit and physically active people specifically need additional minerals and different types of proteins and fats than people who do not exercise or who lead a more sedentary lifestyle. For those reasons, it is your responsibility to know your nutrition needs, and find the best food combinations that would provide you with those nutrients.

Another important consideration is using protein powders and supplements. Many vegan soy-based protein mixes can be easily added to shakes to be drunk as a snack or even as a meal replacement. They usually provide you with high quantities of protein and most of the essential nutrients and minerals that your body needs.

Supplements of vitamins and essential fats are easily accessible in drug stores and are often tailored to people with various lifestyles.

It is certainly possible and even healthy to be moderately active, healthy and vegan all at the same time. What is the most important is to understand the challenges and prepare a meal plan that compensate for the lost nutrients.

Photo credit:  Ariel da Silva Parreira http://www.sxc.hu/profile/arinas74


Vegan Health and Fitness for Beginners

Vegan Health and Fitness for Beginners

vegan diet and trainingIf you have recently turned vegan or you are still considering adopting a plant-based diet, but are concerned about your level of activity and keeping an active and athletic lifestyle, then this article is for you.

It is true that there are some concerns around changing diets and veganism specifically, but there are some successful athletes who do not eat animal products and they are thriving. The key is to know what you are getting into and do it well.

Can vegans lead an active lifestyle?

Of course, while getting proper nutrients is an essential step for developing and maintaining a healthy active lifestyle, the type of diet rarely prevents you from accomplishing that. Even people who eat meat and other animal products might run into problems if they do not eat right. Furthermore, there are many successful and well-known athletes and sports figures who adopt a plant-based diet. So, veganism does not prevent that kind of physical development in any way.

What are the health issues I should watch out for?

While our bodies are certainly capable from adapting to change in many different ways, it is only natural that you would have to make certain changes to your eating and exercising habits as you transition to the new diet. A few key things to watch out for include:

•Caloric vs. protein intake: like in any other diet, you need additional calories if you are training on a regular basis. This is not to be confused with the increased protein intake, which is also essential. People with plant-based diets tend to get less whole proteins that are essential for the body especially when training, so it is important that you get more calories and a higher percentage of protein.

•Minerals: many minerals that are highly important for training such as iron and calcium are found in higher quantities in animal products, which means that it is more difficult to get them through a vegan diet. Include foods that are high in minerals in your diet and resort to supplements when necessary.

•Change your approach on fitness: Shorter more intense workouts are recommended for people on a vegan diet because they are far more likely to be in sync with your protein levels. This is important because with less protein you run the risk of losing muscle mass when exercising.

Photo Credit: Marcel Aniceto

Your Guide to Vegan Benefits and Risks

Your Guide to Vegan Benefits and Risks

happy vegansVegan benefits are hitting mainstream news media outlets everywhere. Over the years, the eating habits of people around the world have changed dramatically. Apart from family customs, social settings, and personal preferences, diets are now influenced by a number of other factors such as environment, media, governments, trade, migration, and nifty kitchen appliances like microwave ovens, toasters, and others. And today there are many kinds of diets which a person can choose from. But of all diets, the vegan benefits stand apart as not just an easy way to weight loss but also a lifestyle choice that is easy on the environment.

Vegan benefits: more than just weight loss

A vegan diet is a lifestyle choice because a person who chooses to be a vegan avoids not only meat and fish, but all kinds of products that come from animals including milk, egg, and honey.  Vegan benefits are not only better health, but also a greater awareness of animal welfare and environmental preservation. People who are vegan avoid using leather, fur, silk, wool, soaps, or any products derived from animals.

Veganism might be complex and difficult to practice for many, but it has a number of health benefits for people according to food science as it is high in dietary fiber, folic acid, iron, phytochemicals, magnesium, and vitamin C and E. And many people have become vegan mainly for deriving health benefits. Some of the vegan benefits for health are:

1) Illnesses and conditions: Eating animal fats and proteins increase the risk of various diseases and There is a much lower risk of developing cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, and so on other diseases in vegans.

2) Weight loss: A vegan diet mainly includes whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits that contain no cholesterol and are low in fat –  mainly unsaturated fats which help in weight loss. These high-fiber, nutrient-filled foods make all the difference.

3) Increased life expectancy: According to various global studies, people who eat red meat and processed meat have less life expectancy than vegans. Vegans, in general, eat more healthily (yes, there’s vegan junk food, too).

4) PMS: A vegan diet is also known to decrease the intensity of menstrual pain as well as pre-menopausal symptoms and menopausal symptoms.

5) Increased energy: Vegans reportedly feel less sluggish and weighed down after a meal. They have better endurance in exercise and sports are more pronounced as their diet does not include any animal products.

Vegan deficiencies

A vegan diet style has high nutritional and health advantages. But just like any other diet vegan diet, it also has some health risks to be aware of. Some health risks related to a vegan diet are:

1) Vitamin B12 deficiency: Vegans have a high risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency as this vitamin is mostly found in meat and animal products. Lack of vitamin B12 a person can suffer from unusual fatigue, amenorrhea, and nausea and in extreme cases can suffer from severe irreversible brain damage. Simple solution: take a vegan B12 supplement.

2) Infants: Breast milk of vegan mothers has very low critical brain fat, DHA, and other vitamins which can affect breastfeeding children. Infants can suffer from disorders such as anemia, weakness, hematological abnormalities, and other disorders.

3) Intestinal discomfort: A vegan diet has more fiber-rich foods within it, and for new vegans, this can cause intestinal discomfort in the beginning. Are you feeling heavy, low on energy, or not adjusting to vegan choices as well as you’d like? Try detoxing with smoothies.

4) Calcium and vitamin D deficiencies: A vegan diet has very low calcium which can result in future fractures. To remedy this deficiency a vegan diet should be balanced with more spinach and soy products. And since vitamin D aids calcium to build strong bones it is important for vegans to receive enough sunlight.

Lastly, a vegan diet can be very healthy for everyone if it is balanced and well planned.

What vegan benefits have you experienced since going vegan? If you are not vegan yet or having trouble staying on track, how about giving yourself a challenge? Try this to hit the reset button on your health.



http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f05/web2/shunt.html (B12- PARA 4)

Photo Credit: Obra Shalom