My third post with a Veganuary theme this month, is all about not beating yourself up over slip ups or mistakes. There are also a lot of posts with concerns about symptoms, and nutrition, which are causing some anxiety, so I’m going to shed a bit of light on a few nutrient queries and generally encourage you to be kind to yourself…
Remember, you don’t have to become the perfect vegan overnight. You will make it. Don’t stress about foods – you will discover the biggest, most amazing range of foods you’ve ever eaten. And don’t dwell too much on symptoms you are feeling right now. Deficiencies take a long time to develop, so if you have one now, it’s not from going vegan a few weeks ago. And if you feel a tad headachey or under the weather, you’re probably detoxing from all that meat and dairy.
It’s pretty much unheard of in the Western world to get a protein deficiency – so many foods contain protein. If you eat a wide range of different foods, including all of the different colours of the rainbow, you will get loads of protein, plus plenty of vitamins and minerals too!
Just remember to eat plenty of food – lots of vegan options have lower calories than meat, so your portions may need to be larger than you are used to.
Dairy Products & Calcium
You won’t get osteoporosis because of not consuming dairy products. In fact, countries which consume the most dairy are found to have the most osteoporosis. We are the only animal that consumes dairy after weaning, and the only species that consumes the milk of another species.
There are plenty of non-dairy sources of calcium, as recommended by the NHS, including oranges, dried fruit, nuts, sesame seeds, green vegetables and enriched dairy alternatives.
If you’re not used to looking much at the back of packets, checking for non-vegan ingredients can be a minefield. Don’t worry, this will get easier and you’ll soon be able to spot the “milk” or “eggs” from a quick glace at arms length! I like to call it Ninja Vegan Label Reading.
Don’t berate yourself for hours if you bring something home and you’ve missed an ingredient. If you’ve eaten it, acknowledge the mistake and move on. If not, you can always get a refund or give it away. Be kind to yourself. It takes time to change habits that have taken a lifetime to develop.
All in all, the message I’d like you to take from this, is if you eat a good balanced diet, you’ll be fine. Don’t get too anxious or worried about nutrients and vitamins, just be aware of the kind of foods that these are generally available from. Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes, or for the odd slip up – you will get better and reading labels will get easier.
Remember, you will come to learn what works best for your body, and where you think you may need to work on more. At the moment, just take it easy, be kind and try to get a good balance of freshly cooked meals and lazy day dinners. Just like with any diet.