Thinking about going vegan? Here’s three things you need to know

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If you’ve seen all the recent blog articles, documentaries and health books praising the vegan diet, you’re probably thinking of giving it a go yourself. And why wouldn’t you? As studies show, veganism has a hugely positive effect on the environment and the human body. However, despite its benefits, a safe and sustainable vegan diet requires a little more research and knowledge than most people think. So, if you’re thinking of making the change, here are three key things you need to know.

You still need to get your nutrients

Meat and dairy products are a big source of iron, protein, calcium, potassium and B vitamins, which means by cutting these foods out, you are depriving your body of their essential nutrients. This can lead to fatigue, weakness, constipation and brittle bones.

Thankfully, you can still get all of your necessary nutrients with a vegan diet – if you know what to eat. Natural soy, lentils, beans and quinoa are a fantastic source of protein, while foods like spinach, kale, banana and cereals contain iron, calcium, potassium and B vitamins respectively. If you find it hard to pack these foods into your daily diet, vitamin supplements can assist to fill in the ‘nutrient gaps’ and help keep you on track.

You may need to spend more… and shop further

Unfortunately, being an ethical eater can sometimes come at a price. As the majority of cheap and easily accessible foods will either contain dairy products or meat, doing the weekly grocery shop as a vegan will take a little more effort – and money.

Vegan products you can buy for a reasonable price at any local supermarket include fruit and vegetables, lentils, nuts, bread and beans, but if you’re after things like biscuits, mock meat, chocolate, or tinned/frozen foods like soups and pizzas, you may need to spend a little extra or make a trip to your nearest health shop. However, if you do some research, you’ll find there are a surprising variety of ways to use cheap, ‘everyday’ vegan foods – so you may not need to buy the fancy stuff at all.

You won’t necessarily lose weight

If weight loss is one of your main reasons for choosing a vegan diet, you may want to rethink your decision. Though veganism does have some wonderful health benefits – including increased bone and heart health, lowered cancer risk, and increased protection against chronic diseases – weight loss is not necessarily one of these.

While foods like soy or coconut milk ice-cream, potato chips, and Oreos (yes, Oreos!) do not contain any animal products, they do contain large amounts of sugar, salt and fat. So, if you’re going vegan with the aim of shedding some kilos, remember to still moderate your junk food intake.

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