The beginners guide to going vegan

Gabrielle Koster

Because of the growing amount of accessible information about the food industry, lots of people are interested in conscious living and eating. More people want to switch to a plant based lifestyle after watching documentaries or reading books about the connection between health, sustainability and the way we eat.

When I started eating vegan, I made some ‘mistakes’. But you don’t have to! So here’s what I learned after going vegan.

  1. You should ‘reset’ the things you’ve learned about your daily meals
    No more bread for breakfast & lunch and dinner with veggies, potatoes and meat. People often want to replace the piece of meat or cheese they put on their sandwich for lunch with something ‘vegan’. So did I. So the first weeks of my vegan life consisted of eating a lot of hummus. But now I’ve learned to think different. Start by thinking about the things your body needs: fruit, veggies, carbs, a bit amount of fat etc. And then start planning your meals around that. Fruits for breakfast with some superfoods. Veggies (like soup, salad or a warm meal) for lunch. A couple of nuts as a snack. More veggies and healthy carbs (like sweet potatoes) for dinner. And don’t forget to eat enough!
  2. Learn to think about what your body needs instead of what you crave
    Sure: if you crave something, there’s a big chance your body might need something that you can find in that food. But if you start eating vegan by doing a detox and reset all those sugar cravings, you will start craving for more real food. I really think about what my body needs in a day: minerals (from vegetables), vitamins (from fruit), carbs with low glycemic index (sweet potatoes or healthy versions of rice) etc. And I plan my meals accordingly. Make sure you learn more about what minerals and vitamins your body needs (from selenium to iron) and try to find out in which kind of food you will find them. Or use plant based supplements. And get your blood tested every now and then on things like vitamine D, vitamine B12, Iron, etc.
  3. It’s a good idea to educate yourself about the ingredients in food
    Check every package and learn which things are natural and good for your body and which things aren’t. Some E-numbers can be perfectly natural and some natural things could be not so good.
  4. Bring a healthy bar wherever you go
    I always carry a bar (from Nakd or Eat Natural, for example) with me wherever I go. So when I get hungry, I know I’m eating something good. When I go on a holiday (for example, when I went to Asia) I bring a couple.
  5. Just because it’s vegan, doesn’t always mean it’s healthy
    Nothing wrong with eating vegan Oreo’s, as long as you know they’re snacks. I always like to see my body as an open fire. Whenever I throw big chunks of wood on that fire, the fire is happy and big. When I throw a bunch of small pieces of paper on it, the fire will stay on, but it’s not a very big and happy fire. The same goes for your body. It can work with the things it needs (again: vitamins, minerals, good carbs, good fats etc) – just like the fire can work with the big chunks of wood. But if you eat something your body can’t necessarily work with, like fries or chocolate (and I mean: I love chocolate and fries), it will be like the small pieces of paper on the fire. Don’t get me wrong: it’s totally fine to eat something less healthy every now, as long as you know that just because it’s vegan, it doesn’t always mean it’s healthy. Keep feeding your body the good stuff as well.
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