Say hello to Jordan Tuwiner, who wrote our guest post on common vegan problems and how to fix them. There are lots of guides showing you how to be vegan, but not all address the problem with vegetarianism you may be facing. Without further ado…
So, you want to be a vegetarian or vegan. You’ve weighed the pros and cons and this time, you’re serious. No more meat, you’re going all plant based from now on. But wait… what about all those vegan problems? Like protein, and hunger and making sure you get enough nutrients?
Whole food plant based (WFPB) eating is great for many reasons. Unfortunately, making the switch and sticking to it can be difficult. Even more if you jump in without a plan.
When my girlfriend first tried cold turkey, she faced many issues with her vegan diet that eventually caused her to begin return to eating meat. However, she’s been eating plants only for the past 6 months.
In this post, we’re going to outline some of the vegan problems, challenges she had along the way. I’ll also offer solutions so you don’t make the same mistakes.
Is The Plant Based Lifestyle Right for Me?
There are a lot of diet options out there, some of which are more reasonable than others. Despite all the chaos, the research and evidence concludes eating meat isn’t necessary to live healthfully. In fact, cutting meat out of your diet provides a host of benefits.
However, it’s easier said than done. Both me and the planet are glad you’re thinking about – or have already decided to – make the switch. Hopefully this post helps you avoid the mistakes many people make when trying a big change like this.
1. Wanting to Give Up Too Soon (Getting Overwhelmed)
Eating a plant-based diet is a major change in your lifestyle that requires personal motivation to reach your goal. Adopting change for somebody else or not being 100% invested makes you likely to become overwhelmed and abandon your goal.
You’ve said ‘I want to become a vegetarian where do I start?’ Good question.
Like exercise, switching to plant-based should be done slowly at first. Instead of diving in headfirst, consider easing yourself in with 3-4 plant-based meals a week. This will ease the transitory effects your mind and body will produce during the change. Practice being mindful of your plant and meat portions. Gradually increase the plants you consume and decrease the animal products.
If you’re skeptical about your ability to plan and stick to it The Beauty Body Plan is a 12-week transition plan to help you get to a wholesome plant-based diet. It includes recipes, grocery lists and a weekly guide to how and why to transition.
Breakfast serves as a great opportunity to implement plant foods into your meal. Many breakfast foods are already vegetarian or vegan (pancakes, muffins, toast, fruit, waffles). An easy start is to jumpstart your morning with a plant-packed smoothie.
It’s common to have gym buddies to add accountability for goals to get fit. Why not have the same for your transition? Support serves as boost for times when lack motivation. Talk to your friends and see if any are interested to join your plant-based journey. Social media sites like Reddit, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube offer advice and support as well.
Remember the Added Benefits of Your Decision
- weight loss
- decreased likelihood of stroke, cancer and heart disease
- lowered blood pressure
- reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
- lessor impact on environment
- animal welfare
2. Not Getting Proper Nutrition
- Will I lose strength?”
- Will I get too skinny?”
- How will I get enough protein?
These are common questions you might have about eating a plant-rich diet. Luckily, Sara has already answered questions about common vegan problems.
For personal advice, consult a professional nutritionist for insight. This reduces your chance of missing important nutrition.
Foods to Focus On
Eggs and dairy are typical sources of protein in an omnivorous and vegetarian diet. To meet your iron needs, focus on legumes, whole grains, leafy vegetables and dried fruits.
Help yourself stay organized. Create a chart of the types and quantities of foods you need to eat regularly to maintain health. Sites such as mayoclinic.org offer outlines of the food groups you will need, as well as measurements.
Don’t forget about vitamin B-12! Vegetarian and vegan diets run the risk of not meeting sufficient vitamin b-12 levels. Options include vitamin supplements, enriched cereals, fortified soy products and nutritional yeast.
Last but not least is iodine. Many vegetarians tend to have lower levels of iodine in their system. Why? Veg-heads tend to be more health conscious as a whole and thus consume less salt. Most salt is iodized and our main source of iodine. The mineral helps metabolize food into energy and care for our thyroids. To avoid iodine deficiency, you have the following options:
- iodized salt
- supplemented iodine solution
- seaweed products (kombu, nori, kelp, etc.)
Lack of iodine is known to cause thyroid issues like hypothyroidism. It’s not a mineral you want to skimp on. It may seem complicated to think about these issues now, but it will become second nature once you’re aware of your needs.
3. Not Knowing What Groceries to Buy Anymore
It’s most important thing to remember to plan accordingly when shopping. With a shopping and meal plan, you know what to buy and eat. How about keep a catalog of recipes and note what ingredients are your favorite? This allows you plan accordingly and create a meal plan to make cooking easier.
Cost of Plant-Based Diet
A worry new vegetarians or thoughtful vegetarians have is the cost. Eating a vegetarian diet usually costs less than a meat-heavy diet. Meat is one of the most expensive items at a grocery store while a bag of beans is one of the cheapest.
In addition, compare the shelf life of meat with beans. Meat requires refrigeration and can go bad quickly if not frozen. On the other hand, beans can last months without special treatment. The more items that you can store at room temperature, the less likely you are to waste food and money.
When grocery shopping, keep in mind organic foods and stores such as Whole Foods generally run on the pricier side. While they can be tastier, it’s not necessary to buy organic. And don’t be afraid to substitute pricier ingredients for cheaper ones.
4. Getting Bored of Eating the Same Thing Over and Over
A new diet plan doesn’t mean you have to bore yourself with the same foods. There are exceptional recipes out there for you to experiment with. Frankly, you could cook a new one every meal and never try them all!
Plant-Based Home Recipes to Try
Avoid a negative mindset with you lifestyle change. Don’t think about all the foods you can’t eat. Think about all the foods you can! With the progression of plant-based options, you can have everything from hummus or PB&J to a “bleeding” plant burger with cheesecake. Try some of the recipes below to expand your culinary palette.
- Whole Food Flax Seed Pudding
- Fusilli-Broccoli Bowls & Walnut Cream Sauce
- Vegetable Lasagna
- Spiced Pumpkin Bread
- Raw Vegan Buddha Bowl
- Veggie Mac & Cheese
- Raspberry Fudgy Brownies
- Carob’s Apple Crumble
The recipes ranked highly on a variety of vegetarian recipe indexes. In addition, they include an array of cultural varieties. Exercise your creativity and find what’s right for you!
Vegetarian Specialty Restaurants
Another one of the vegan problems is people fear they must sacrifice flavor and food quality. Luckily, many restaurants today specialize in vegetarian, plant-based and vegan cooking. How hard is it to go vegetarian when you have amazing burger options ab By Chloe in LA, NYC and Boston? Eating at such places exposes skeptics to mouthwatering meals.
Research and find local specialty restaurants. The plant-based trend is growing exponentially, and not just in large like Los Angeles and NYC. Celebrity Chef Rachel Ray’s favorite Cleveland restaurant is Tommy’s, a joint where delicious down to earth veg options are dished out regularly. On the other side of the spectrum, several Michelin-star restaurants are vegetarian-friendly.
5. Diving in Without a Plan
The first time I tried making the switch to a plant-based diet, I went cold turkey on meat products. I failed in a matter of days. The second time, it was much easier and successful. That time, I made a plan and slowly waned myself off animal products.
So, is it hard to become a vegetarian? Not with social support, a collection of recipes, veg-friendly restaurants and a plan to transition gradually. Vegan diet issues arise when you throw my advice into the wind. These strategies can help you be successful in your plant-based endeavor.
About the Author
Jordan Tuwiner is a traveler, bitcoin expert and SEO advisor.