If you’ve been anywhere near social media this year, then you’ll know all about VEGANuary or VEGanuary. A drive to start your year feeling fresh by adopting a whole food, plant-based diet, as opposed to an animal based one!

I think it’s great when people become more mindful of how they are fuelling their body, and good intentions paired with the right knowledge can be a great catalyst for positive change. But when people are jumping on a band wagon (when they don’t really know the destination) it can be a recipe for disaster.

Apart from seemingly being able to make cheesy bread a staple (or just bread if you’ve gone vegan!), there’s a lot more to going VEG+ than you might have considered. Here I’m helping share the knowledge, and hopefully inspiring you into positive action, whether you want to try a veg based diet for ethical, health or just experimental reasons.

The benefits of going veggie:

I am not going to go into the ethical reasons around safe a humane farming in this article, but it is worth looking into if you do eat animal products and trying to shop from a well-informed position. Just a few pointers: look for ‘grass fed’, ‘pastured eggs’ and organic meat where possible. (check out this great article for a little more info on eggs).

So why might you go veg? A great reason would be to try and increase your overall daily intake of veg and fruit! We are consuming less and less real food, and consuming more and more ‘food like’ products. Unfortunately for us, food like products just don’t contain the same goodness as the real thing. Getting a diet full of colourful vegetables and fruits means we are getting a mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants! Just a short list: Vitamin C, A, potassium, folate, iron, fibre, polyphenols and flavonoids! I could go on, but I won’t ; )

What you might be missing out on by eliminating animal products:

So increasing your veg intake is only going to be a good thing. But one thing people don’t consider when making the switch from meat/dairy eater to veggie is what their diet suddenly might be missing out on.
The protein debate is often rampant, but not really so important when going veggie. There are so many plant based protein options, and as long as you are getting a mix of all of them, you should have no issues getting your protein fix for the day. Just a quick list of the best options: whole grains, nuts and seeds (quinoa is a winner here – technically a seed!), legumes and there’s protein in veg you know (there’s a reason Popeye ate spinach and his muscles grew!).

A bigger issue is what micronutrients you might be missing out on. When we eat animal products we are generally hitting our required needs of Vitamin B12, Iron, Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D.

Let’s start with Vitamin D – you can get this from the sun, and it’s the most effective way to increase your levels, so try and find a little patch of sun every day (easier said than done UK dwellers right?!).

Vitamin B12 is vital for maintaining nerve tissues, and a deficiency can impact your nervous system. Vit B12 is found in eggs and dairy products, so if you’re not going vegan you can get your hit from these. Otherwise, you will need to look elsewhere in order to ensure you are getting the right levels. Your doctor can advise on supplementation.

We need iron for our blood, and a lack of iron in our diet causes anaemia. Symptoms that your diet may be lacking iron are tiredness, dizziness, short of breath and cold hands and feet. Plant based sources of iron are legumes, soybeans, tofu, nuts, dark leafy green veg. By doing a bit of smart food combining we can increase the uptake of iron from the plant-based sources we are eating by adding Vitamin C. Try squeezing lemon juice on your kale and spinach salad or top your tofu with steamed tomatoes!

Omega 3 fatty acids are typically found in oily fish. Flax seeds are a winning replacement here. But supplementation could still be required.

Not sure? Get your bloods checked and be sure you’re in balance!

What does a typical day in a vegan diet look like?

Perhaps there was more to consider in your switch to veganism than you initially thought? It’s all too easy to fill up on processed ‘vegan’ alternatives, but you’ll be robbing your body of vital nutrients that you need to thrive. Don’t do yourself this disservice! Eat smart, feel great, and you might just flourish on your new way of eating.

Here’s a typical day eating vegan:

Hummus on whole grain brain, salad and olive oil for breakfast

Lentil lunch/Buddha bowl

Coconut yoghurt snack with flax and chia and almond mylk

Mexican feast dinner – mixed grains, guacamole, roasted peppers, onions, tomatoes, black beans

Optional extras – Wild Green smoothie, Noble

When you are mindful of the vitamins and minerals that your body requires, and where you can find them in a whole-foods, plant-based diet, then you can really thrive on this nutrient packed way of eating. Approach any diet or lifestyle change from a place of knowledge and you’ll be on your way to making positive changes.

If you want help making sure you are getting all the nutrients you need, whilst enjoying a fulfilling, satisfying diet full of tasty food that fuels you well, then get in touch for 1:1 Health Coaching, and we can go through a FREE Health History Consultation call to see how I could help.

If you would rather improve your health habits then a group setting might be more your thing. Try my online Bootcamp for free here:

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