Vegan Diet 101: What Is Vegan Food? And How Do You Start?
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, as well as a lifestyle shift toward a more compassionate and ethical purpose. Veganism and a vegan diet are now essential for living a sustainable and healthier lifestyle. It has a favourable effect on both the body and the mind. However, transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and adopting vegan food in Dubai might be difficult at first. So, how do you go about making this significant adjustment in your life?
Start with the basics. A vegan diet means cutting the consumption of all animal-based products. Thus, do some research and learn about the substances in the foods you eat. Eliminate meat or dairy items from your diet. Of course, you don’t have to do all of this in a single day. Always start small before you transition entirely to the vegan diet. Gradually, you can shift from being a dietary vegan to an ethical vegan – abstaining from animal-based foods and other things like cosmetics, clothing, etc.
Sounds a bit intimidating, right? Fret not. Here is a comprehensive guide on beginning your journey as a vegan and making it as smooth as possible.
What Is Vegan Food?
Before delving into how to start being a vegan, let’s define and understand what vegan food is.
Vegan food comes under a plant-based diet. This form of diet avoids animal-based products, be it milk or meat. In simple terms, you aim for a healthier living solely on a plant-based, whole and nutrient-rich, fortified food diet.
There is a myriad of vegan dishes to choose from. You can also incorporate items such as potato, pasta, and bread, which are excellent substitutes for non-vegan diets.
Common Misconceptions Of Vegan Diet
Myths regarding the vegan diet can instil fear and prevent one from adopting it; thus, it’s crucial to gain clarity on what a vegan diet is not.
A registered dietician at the Vegan Society, Heather Russell, states that it is a common myth of being unable to obtain protein from plant foods. Truth being, they can provide all the essential protein building blocks that we call amino acids.
Vegan food in Dubai is not restricted to salads or is a nutrient deficit diet. You won’t be able to derive nutrients from a non-vegetarian diet, but there are plenty of vegan diet supplements that come to your rescue.
How Do I Start Being A Vegan?
It’s difficult to make any changes to one’s way of life – whether it’s being more productive or pledging to go to the gym every day, there’s something for everyone.
However, you don’t have to make the change overnight; it doesn’t change in a day or two either. It is undeniably difficult to give up meals that you enjoy. So how do you bring a change?
Begin by believing in your cause – the reason for the change – and adopting it as your motto. Next, consume more fruits and vegetables and add these to your existing meal consumption instead of overhauling your entire diet. You can then gradually make the switch to completely vegan meals.
There are three classifications to a plant-based diet:
- Vegan: No animal-based products
- Lacto-vegetarian: consumes dairy products but not meat or eggs
- Lacto-ovo-vegetarian: doesn’t consume meat but have eggs and dairy products
Thus, you can have a controlled vegan diet by starting at the third category and slowly adopting all the changes.
Some Tips To Start On The Right Foot
Switching to a vegan diet can be intimidating. However, you can embrace this change without any hurdles by following the given tips.
1. Eliminate The Obvious
Refrain from eating your favourite cheeseburger. It does not come under a plant-based diet. Thus, begin by eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet.
2. Introduce All Fruits & Veggies
Make sure you’re getting plenty of fruits and veggies; there is a wide variety of them available. As a result, you will not be bored! And this has to be consistent throughout the week.
3. Pick Your Favorites
You are not required to be harsh on yourself. Begin by cooking some of your favourite nutritious foods – this will only motivate you to follow a vegan diet later on. We understand how difficult it is to say goodbye to your favourite junk food. So, start with a few cheat days and progressively eliminate them.
4. Research, Research And Research
Do your homework. Learn more about vegan food in Dubai and alternatives to your normal, non-vegan diet.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new vegan dishes. In your vegan diet meal plan, you can incorporate a variety of dishes. You can experiment with numerous vegan diet modifications as long as they keep you healthy. Experiment and enjoy yourself!
What To Consume As A Vegan?
Here is a complete list of the vegan food in Dubai that you can consume:
1. Fruits And Vegetables
Iron and calcium are abundant in fruits and vegetables. So, eat more greens and try out different fruits.
2. Tofu, Tempeh And Seitan
These foods are high in protein and can be used as a substitute for non-vegan diets.
Legumes like beans, peas and lentils increase the nutrient absorption of the body.
Unroasted nuts supply your body with the necessary amounts of zinc, iron, fibre, and magnesium.
5. Nutritional Yeast
We know you love cheese. And that’s why replacing it with nutritional yeast, a vegan alternative and a great source of protein, is an ideal approach. Moreover, it adds a cheesy flavour to your meals.
Cereals are a great source of complex carbs, vitamins and minerals.
7. Plant-Based Milk
Cutting down on dairy is a must for any vegan. Plant-based milk provides the dietary calcium needed for the bones and teeth and is the perfect milk substitute.
Chia and flax seeds act as a supplement for omega-3 fatty acids.
Health Benefits Of A Vegan Diet
Vegans, according to studies and expert judgments, have a lower chance of deadly diseases. A vegan’s heart health is better than that of a non-vegan. People who eat a vegan diet are less likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.
As per research conducted at the University of Oxford, going vegan is the ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on the planet. It reduces the risk of cancer by 15% and even helps prevent it from occurring.
A healthy vegan diet also lowers the risk of pain in joints, swelling or morning stiffness. In addition, since it is a low-fat diet, it prevents inflammation and thus avoids the risk of arthritis.
Moreover, consuming vegan meals maintains good kidney health and prevents the risk of illness pertaining to the organ. It is found in observational studies that vegan people are less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease. Also, with a vegan diet, weight loss becomes easier to accomplish.
Embrace the process! A small step taken to cut down on animal-based foods and products is a step in the right direction.
Remember not to rush. Before starting a diet, it’s always a good idea to do some research and consult a nutritionist for learning about vegan food in Dubai or anywhere else. A well-balanced plant-based diet will not leave you deficient in any way. So, educate yourself and make a shift for a better lifestyle.