If you look at a number of social media feeds, browse through food magazines, search for a reliable food review of restaurants in other countries from Singapore to the UK, or just go visit any of the trendy new restaurants, you may notice a growing trend in the last decade that has influenced the lifestyle of many – veganism. Vegetarianism and all its other forms have seen an exponential growth in many western countries, and has already made headway into Asia. People have been enamored by the many benefits of going vegan, from losing weight and clearing acne to putting forward a personal advocacy.
The switch to a vegan diet sounds simple enough. All you need to do is avoid eating meat and animal food products such as eggs, dairy, meat, and fish. However, changing your diet into an entirely plant-based one can get complicated for some people, especially those with particular medical conditions or habits. Here are some of the things that you should consider and plan for before making the switch:
Regular meal planning
Going vegan is not just about removing meat from your diet and eating everything else that’s available. At first, you’d think you have a lot of options – a veg sandwich, some cold cereals and nuts, frozen veggie burgers and spaghetti may sound like enough to get by, but you’ll need variety for a healthy diet (not to mention your sanity!). You might not even be aware that you’re not getting all the nutrients you need to sustain a healthy body. Compared to vegans, vegetarians have slightly better choices because they can consume eggs and dairy products. If you go completely vegan, you have to find a way to get the protein that you need in your daily meals. Adopting a specialized diet like this can be challenging if you don’t have the luxury of time and the commitment to do some meal planning regularly. If making plans is always a struggle for you, a vegan lifestyle may be difficult to maintain.
Vitamin B12 deficiency
If you know that you have B12 deficiency, choosing to go vegan could make it even more difficult to acquire all the essential vitamins your body needs. Vitamin B12 is mainly present in animal food products, so adopting a vegan diet means you’ll have to consume vitamin B1 from other sources. This nutrient makes your immune system stay strong, protects your nerves from damage, and keeps your energy remains at optimum levels. If maintaining your vitamin B12 levels is already a challenge even with a regular diet that includes dairy and meat, this can get even harder if you decide to go vegan. It’s not impossible though– there are ways to go about it, but, as above, you’ll need to plan properly.
Many of the most common options for vegan snacks and meals contain nuts. In order to have that extra healthy fat and flavor to make their meals more interesting, a lot of vegans include peanut butter, cashew cream, and nut-based cheeses into their diet. Nuts are commonly used as the main source of protein in a number of vegan dishes and desserts. However, if you have a nut allergy, your vegan options can become even more limited. You have to be more mindful of the ingredients and the processing involved in packaged food if you want to be vegan but nut-free, especially if your allergy is serious.
Whether you’re going vegan for religious, health, or personal advocacy reasons, going vegan can be tough but rewarding. It has many benefits both to your self and society at large. Fortunately, the growing trend has given vegans lots more options these days, with vegan options appearing in both restaurant menus and grocery shelves.