Top Tips for Veganuary

Top Tips for Veganuary

Veganuary 2023 is here, which means even more people will be giving the vegan diet a go this month. So here are our top tips for transitioning to plant-based with success.

Avocados, chillis, tomatoes, cucumber slices and basil on a yellow backdrop.

Going vegan can be daunting, and even more so if a plant-based diet is a far stretch from the way you are currently eating. But rest assured, we all started somewhere, and Veganuary can be an excellent opportunity to improve your lifestyle.

With a firm grasp of the essentials, you will soon be on your way to a more confident approach to veganism. We at Two Vegan Scientists started our journeys following a very different diet to how we eat today and transitioned over time to where we are now.

While we both aim to follow a whole-food, plant-based diet as best as possible, this may not be the best approach for you if this is your first time attempting to transition to veganism.

So here are our top tips for transitioning to vegan this Veganuary and how to successfully switch to a plant-based diet.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary logo on a farm animals face

Veganuary is a campaign and 31-day challenge that runs each year in January with the intention of inspiring and challenging non-vegans to try vegan for one month.

Over 600,000 people signed up for Veganuary in 2022 alone. The campaign has become one of the most notable events in recent vegan history as it has helped countless people make a huge difference.

The non-profit aims to see people take on the 1-month challenge and stay vegan beyond January to protect the environment, prevent animal suffering, and improve the health of millions of people.

Many people use Veganuary to think about their food and its real-world impact.

Top Tips for Going Vegan:

Break it down; transition to veganism over time.

An icon of a clock

While some people have the willpower and ability to go vegan overnight and keep it up for a long time, most people would benefit from slowing down the transition.

The chances are you are doing this for a reason, so you are desperate to make this change as quickly as possible.

The speed with which you can transition depends on how different your diet is now compared with the vegan diet you plan to follow and your inner strength when balancing your desires for those habitual foods with your moral/health choices.

Take your time to allow your gut the most time to adjust to changes. Try removing one non-vegan item at a time. For example, you could substitute cow's milk with oat, rice or soy milk and give yourself time to adjust before removing/replacing another animal product.

Veganise your food shop and prepare for your new diet.

A shopping trolley or cart filled with food from the groceries store

Stock up on those staple vegan ingredients and plan your meals so you know what to start shopping for, as it will initially feel very different to your current groceries list.

You'll want to stock up on tofu, tempeh or any vegan alternatives you wish to use as protein sources.

Make sure you have lentils, beans and chickpeas for curries, chillis, soups or adding fibre and protein to meals.

A broad range of fruits, vegetables, nuts (or nut butter) and seeds, like flax or chia seeds, are also essential for a comprehensive spectrum of nutrients.

You will also want to consider breakfasts; if you enjoy cereals or muesli, consider a plant-based milk alternative. Otherwise, oats are an excellent ingredient and another staple worth stocking up on.

Replace, don't just remove non-vegan foods

A icon of a burger next to a vegan burger

This one may seem self-explanatory, but there are nutrients in the non-vegan foods you eat that you must replace, not just remove.

If you remove meat from your plate, there are a lot of calories in that serving and some protein, fat and iron (among other things).

The wisest option is to remove animal products and find reasonable alternatives that offer caloric energy and ample nutrition.

Be open to trying new foods and cuisines.

An icon for ramen noodles

Despite how it may seem restrictive, most vegans will tell you that they have never eaten so many different flavours, cuisines and foods.

When you transition, opening your mind to trying new foods can hugely benefit how easy you find your journey to plant-based.

Many world cuisines celebrate the flavours of plants in their world-renowned dishes, and trying something new is a great way to make going vegan even more exciting for your palate.

Supplement as required

A tub of green supplements for vegans

B12 and vitamin D (in low-UV winter months) are commonly supplemented by those following a vegan diet.

Deficiencies in these two nutrients are typical among all diets, not vegans, and a balanced plant-based diet can provide all the necessary nutrients.

Always seek your GP/doctor's advice.

Keep an eye out for accidentally vegan products.

A sticker certifying a product is vegan

When you first go vegan, you will likely find that many ingredients and products you buy have hidden animal products and are not vegan.

However, a recent trend is sharing the excitement of those "accidentally vegan" finds.

Many of the foods you will already be eating, from certain sweets and snacks to pastries and bread, are already vegan.

By ingredients only, so many products in the shops are "accidentally" vegan as they contain no animal products but do not claim to be vegan.

Learning to master reading the labels and ingredients on products will come in handy. For reference, most animal products are allergens which should always appear in bold in ingredient lists (not always, and not in every country).

Don't rely on processed vegan junk food, alternatives, fake meats, snacks or ready meals.

A crossed out icon featuring vegan junk food such as a burger and drink

While the alternative or faux meats and plant milk can come in very handy, check the ingredient lists of some of these products, and you will soon realise they are far from whole foods and are often highly processed.

Vegan junk food can be a convenient and delicious option from time to time, especially when you are transitioning.

However, regularly eating processed foods is not associated with the best outcomes for human health.

Aim to eat at least thirty different plants a week and keep your diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, pulses, grains and legumes.

Full Episode Transcript

These notes are auto-generated and are very likely to contain errors. May contain offensive language.

Hello everyone and welcome to two Vegan Scientists, a brand new podcast all about veganism. My name is Sam And my name is also Sam. And together we will be discussing the many aspects of veganism including nutrition, human health, and scientific efforts to reduce animal testing. I'm a plant-based nutritionist and coach, And I'm a biologist working on reducing animal testing and scientific research. There's a hell of a lot we want to cover, but I wanna start by focusing on Vik, if that's okay with you, because it's that time of year where people look to make positive change in their lives and VI has become a really popular way of doing this. So start, maybe you could start by explaining what VII is to any listeners that aren't aware of it. So, VII is a sort of campaign that's coming about in the last five years that's really picked up traction. Uh, it's helped over half a million people transition towards veganism. And it's a, a sort of twofold approach in trying to help people think about more of what they're eating, but at the same time, uh, reduce their impact on the planet and animals. Um, and it has helped an awful lot of people change their diet with a challenge. A nice simple challenge of 31 days at the start of each year, uh, of sticking to a vegan diet and just sort of seeing how you get on with it. The, the goal for most people is to try and stick with that permanently, but it is one of those things that if, if you can't stick to it permanently, even just that one month can make such a big difference. So it's just about getting people to think about food, about their impact on, on various things, and, uh, taking a challenge to embrace a vegan diet just for that short period of time and sort of see if it's something they can stick with. Yeah, it's, it's also a month that people who are already vegan love as well because it brings in a whole host of new, new options. Yes. That, that you can try. Uh, my mom's been vegetarian for maybe a year or two now and she's trying GaN for the first time. So I'm interested to see how that goes. It is always exciting to see people, you know, give it a go as well, isn't It? Oh yeah, definitely. And you become quite enthusiastic about their, their journeys and that kind of thing. So I think the reason I want to talk about, and I think we should, that we want to talk about VII and sort of give some tips on how to do VII is, is it can be quite daunting and quite challenging if it's your first time following this kind of diet, especially if it can be the polar opposite to what you used to. And we see a lot of famous people, particularly over the last 12 months who went vegan and now coming out publicly and criticizing the diet. Yes. A good example is, is Steve o on the Joe Rogan podcast saying he, he tried veganism when he felt terrible. And my first thought is always, what were you eating? Were you doing this properly? Because it does take more planning. We've got a society that's built around normalizing an omnivorous diet. So a lot of the ways we're told to get our nutrition are from animal products. And so even though you can get quite easily everything you need from a vegan diet, you need some guidance sometimes on how to do that and how to get the most up the experience. So that's why I thought it'd be good to give some of the top tips from two people who have done this for, well, I've been doing it for about two years. How, how long for Yourself? Uh, about five or six years now. Yeah. Which feels crazy, but yeah. Yeah. No, I think it's, uh, again, again, one of those things, uh, replacing uh, foods is, is a, a really difficult thing for people, especially when, like you say, it is what we've been taught as normal for such a long period of time. You know, those, those staple dishes that we're all familiar with. They kind of, I I would always say the best way to approach starting with uh, a vegan diet would be to kind of replace those dishes you already love with vegan versions. Cuz a lot of people will feel overwhelmed. I get asked a lot, how do you eat vegan? What do you eat? Uh, you know, I think people think, we're always sitting there eating lettuces and broccoli . Yeah. That's the most common joke. Why don't you go out and eat some grass ? I've heard that a million times. Yeah, exactly. And I think, I think what, what most of us did at the start at least is actually find alternatives or, you know, just little recipes that we can use to replace what we are already eating with just vegan versions of exactly the same thing. Um, I would definitely say in terms of, you know, especially with the health impacts with a lot of people say that they've gone vegan and something went wrong, whether it was iron levels energy or something like that. It is normally, cuz a lot of people are just removing things from their diet but not properly replacing them. So if you're gonna take a, a block of meat off of your plate and not think about what to put there in its place, you know, that is unfortunately a big part of the, part of a dinner's, uh, nu nutrient, you know, nutrients, it's, it's your protein source, it's your fat source. Often it's, and you do need to think about what to, to kind of put in its place. And I do think a lot of people make that mistake of, well, I'm just gonna cut these things out my diet and, and hope that I'm gonna stay healthy. Um, but I think the most successful vegans when they go through vegan January have really considered their diet. You know, they've really thought about planning, um, and not, I don't necessarily think you need to plan every meal. I don't think you need to be, you know, a hundred percent organized with everything. I think you can still go out and, and play it by ear a little bit. But it is about kind of being a little bit more switched onto what you're eating and making sure that you're getting a really broad range of foods. You know, it should be exciting. It should be a time to try brand new things, you know, to get more foods in. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think, I mean I, I've eaten a lot more sort of a wider variety of cuisines since going vegan because definitely the fla the flavor has to come from other places and you find that there's so many places that flavors can come from and that's, that is really exciting because it gives you this whole opportunity to, to try things. And I think if it's, if certain things aren't working for you, it doesn't mean necessarily that the whole thing isn't worth further exploration. You know, you hear people saying, I was deficient in this, deficient in that. That's not something that's a problem that's unique to vegans. You know, you can have me, me teachers who can't get B12 or can't get iron. Uh, there's, there's many different reasons for things like vitamin deficiencies and actually if you do this right, you can get everything you need. Yep. Even even the elusive B12 Yes. Provided you, you like things like Marmite or, or nutritional use. Yeah. There are sources out There. Plant, plant Milks. I think it's um, I think it's one of those interesting things where, you know, people get told, uh, if you're gonna go on a vegan diet, really concentrate on what you are eating. So you really need to think about it almost as if you are, if you're eating an omnivorous diet, you can just ignore it. You know, you don't need to consider what you're eating and it's just not true. It's not true that the only people that need to consider how to make their diet healthy are vegans. You know, there are lots of people out there on the standard American or standard western diet that are completely nutritionally deficient in, in all sorts of things. Oh, Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Um, you know, and really that's not an argument for veganism to be nutritionally deficient in anything. But, uh, the truth is that anything you need is, is something you can gain in a completely vegan way. Um, yeah. And I don't think, I don't, I think there's lots of people out there that still don't know that And it's sleeping easier now. Yeah. You know, everywhere everywhere's got, even even places like Burger King or it's probably obviously not an example of vegan health food , but, you know, when, when Burger King and McDonald's producing vegan food, then change is, is really, really coming into effect. Definitely. I mean I went vegan, like I say about five or six years ago and in that short space of time, I'd say that's when vegan gained its biggest kind of, you know, amount of attraction. The restaurants and the situation in supermarkets has completely transformed. Uh, you know, we were talking about a time where it really was quite close to Whole Foods plant-based to go vegan. Yeah. Um, and while you can argue that there's been a kind of step back in the healthiness of the diet, perhaps cuz it's got more process, the ability to go vegan overnight, you know, and, and actually pretty much carry on eating the same sorts of foods now is is a lot easier. A lot easier. And going out with people as well to restaurants and Yeah, definitely. It's so much easier. So I think before we dive into our tips for helping people get to a vegan, I thought, thought would be nice to quickly give a very short summary as to what drove us to make the change in the first place. So would you, I think, I suspect we've got a similar story. Well, I uh, I used to live on a farm actually, and, um, we Oh really? We had, uh, yeah, we weren't farmers ourselves, but, uh, we had chickens. We had a little pet chicken and um, there was one day where we were eating our, our normal meal, our Sunday roast eating a chicken and looking at our pet and we just kind of thought, this does, this just does not feel right. This was about, just felt strange 10 years ago or so. Um, cuz initially I went vegetarian. Um, same. But my, and my, the, the kind of big push for me when I went vegan was that my health and my mom's health in particular were really, really bad. Um, so this was first year of uni. Um, I was, I was obese, I was inflamed. Um, I was regularly going to the hospital for things and the same situation with my mom. Um, and while I was at uni I did GaN myself and the change that happened to me were, I was, I wasn't expecting them, you know, it was not just losing weight. Um, I went from someone who skipped PE at school to someone who, you know, I trained as a fitness instructor while I was doing my course. Yeah. Um, I kind of found this new energy and I tried for ages to get mom to listen to me. And, and it took a really long time. She wasn't having it at all. Um, she was addicted to cheese puffs and that was just never gonna be, you know, that was never gonna change . Um, eventually I got through to her and, and yeah, we're, we're stood here now, uh, healthy and it, it just feels, uh, really, really amazing. So mum was diagnosed with Crohn's when she was, I think 15 and to lived her whole life with Crohn's disease and now be in a position where she's in full remission is, wow. You can't, you can't ask her anything better than that. So when we saw changes in our family's health, that was quite the big push for us. Um, so yeah, I'd say, I'd say my initial push was animal rights, but then as, as life went on and, and, uh, I saw the health benefit benefits, that's definitely what made me stick to it at least. Yeah. That's, that's a similar story to mind in the sense that I went vegetarian for animal rights reasons. Yeah. And then January, 2021 was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, so the other form of inflammatory bowel disease. Yes. And I was amazed. So my, my partner was reading How Not to Die Michael Greger's book at the time. Yeah. Which doesn't specifically talk about I B D, but just talk about other diseases of the bowel. And she said to me, um, we should try this, this vegan diet because who knows it might help. And I was resistant at first and then Len came around and we decided to try a juice fast for Lent, which lasted Yep. About 16 hours because the juices that we, we made, we followed some of the Joe Cross recipes and just didn't like the taste of any of them. But what, what we re remembered was we love fresh fruits and vegetables and, and all these kind of things, why don't we just eat it instead? And so for Lent, we went fully whole food plant-based and I had zero issues with my digestive system and I was surprised when my gastro, my gastro charges called me for the first time after my diagnosis. I was excited to tell him about this. And his response was so dismissive as like, oh, well diet doesn't really do anything. Yeah. Uh, we're gonna get you on medication anyway. And so I then backslid went back to animal products and was hit with an an I IBD flare. So at the end of that, went back to veganism again, backslid over a Christmas period and up in hospital. And so that told me that what I needed to do was stick to this, this diet of, I'd say I'm probably about 80 to 90% whole food. Yep. A hundred percent vegan. Yep. And just stick to this healthy thing. And, and the, the difference that I've fell has been incredible. It's, you know, me, me now versus me this time last year. There's, there's no comparison. No, definitely. I think you can't prepare for the changes that you'll see in yourself. Um, it almost almost sounds religious, doesn't it? But no, it is quite, uh, it is quite, quite astounding. Like when I say I, I skipped pe I was, you know, I, I was beyond just a beast. I was really lazy. There was nothing that would ever have motivated me to do fitness. Um, I now teach three fitness classes a week and I love it. You know, fitness is kind of, it's this energy that came from it that that really amazed me. Um, but you, you kind of end up, I think, taking your health for granted and it's only when they, it sort of takes a big step back. Um, and diet makes it, or, or something like diet or lifestyle makes it improve that you kind of think, I I need to take my health in my life a bit more seriously. You know, you kind of, yeah. I think that's, I think that's the main thing. Yeah. Cuz veganism doesn't necessarily mean healthy either, like you said. I mean, no, when, when I was in hospital last year, I was still vegan, but I was eating a lot of processed junk and drinking, not too much, but drinking too consistently. Yes. So, you know, daily over the Christmas period, and I never realized actually that you're not supposed to feel sluggish after you eat lunch. If you eat a good lunch, it gives you the energy for the afternoon. Yep. And the best way to do that is, is fiber. You know, fiber that In a second. The gut microbiome is a big part of this discussion as well. You spoke about, um, the book How Not to Die. Um, a big sort of influential book for me was, uh, 10% Human by Lana Colon. Yeah. Um, delving into the relationship that we have, uh, you know, our food and our diet has with, with our gut health. Is it, well, it fascinates me and the fact that there's hundreds of trillions of bacteria in our gut that are getting involved in half the processes, it really fascinates me. Um, and how much of the body it affects as well. It's not just the gut, it's everything. Yes. It's, it is, yeah. One big systems related to, uh, well ultimately you, they, they say you are what you eat, but it really is true. You know, I think if you are filling your body with stuff that you know, isn't ultimately, I think we all know those foods that aren't good for us, but we make that decision almost like it doesn't matter. Yeah. Um, but it is really when you clean your act up and you see how you can live on a, on a better diet, um, you really become aware of how much you were neglecting yourself before. I think, uh, I try myself, like you say, to be whole food plant based the majority of the time. Uh, I'd like to pretend that I do it all the time, but, you know, I go out and see people and it's, it's not so easy out in public at the moment, you know, to go to a restaurant or something to be exclusively Whole Foods. But, um, the options are just so much better than they were a hundred percent. I mean, I think you just go for a better than policy. Yeah. So even if you can't go whole food, you know, if what is better than a meat alternative? Definitely. In terms of health, I think, um, just before we get on one, one last story is, is shortly after diagnosis, maybe about six months. It was after my first flare. I'd just come off prednisone. Yes. Um, which it does a great job of, of relieving inflammation, but it's not a drug you wanna spend a lot of time on. No, not a all. Um, I saw Michael clapper's Ted talk and he talked about, I think it was called the best way to Heal yourself on the planet. And he talked about plant-based diets and he put this list of diseases up and I saw my disease up there and I've been told this, you know, you don't cure this, this doesn't go away. And he said, every one of these diseases is curable. Mm-hmm. And I felt almost moved by that. Cause it's like suddenly the power when you first diagnosed with something like i b d, you feel like the power's taken away from you. You've got this thing and there's not much you can do. Someone telling you that actually there is a lot you can do, the power is in your hands and if you look after yourself and eat the right things and exercise, you can positively influence yourself. That's a really powerful message that I don't think is, is is still not really sort of talked about enough in No, I particularly, I think something to be said for the words, um, terminal or lifelong, uh, with, with any condition. I think, uh, cuz Crohn's, uh, IBD oil forms, they, they kind of, they kind of tell people that these are irreversible diseases that you are gonna live with for the rest of your life. Um, and I'd argue that someone with Crohn's disease will always have that susceptibility perhaps to inflammation. You know, something caused them to be quite sensitive to at least one aspect of their lifestyle that caused inflammation at some point. Um, but it is this kind of, it's quite dooming when you tell someone that they've got absolutely nothing that they can do about this. This is just always gonna be with you. Um, and the unfortunate truth is that there's a lot of people out there thinking that they've got lifelong conditions, that there are ways of living that can at least reduce the symptoms massively, if not put it in full remission. Um, you know, ultimately is is what you put into your body, like I said, that makes you what you are. And, and if we're the majority of, of the Western diet is, is inflammatory. Yeah. Um, and until you make a big change to sort of see if it can improve your health, you do kind of sit there with this terminal diagnosis or, or whatever it is that and feel hopeless. And I do think there's a lot more people that need to, to hear the message that actually there are things you can do. You're not just gonna sit with this for the rest of your life and, and have no hope. There are foods you can eat, there are ways you can live that will, will, will make your life better. Yeah. And, and on that, let's, let's talk, let's get into the sort of vegan meat of the situation. Yep. . So into the top top, Yeah. Top top tips of vegan. Anyway. Will you to kick us off with, with what you, with what you, you know, somewhere you think it could be a good place to start? Yeah. So the first thing someone, someone's, especially for anyone who is find likely to find this change, a really big step away from how they sort of currently live their life would be to break it down into really manageable steps. A lot of people will go cold Turkey and try and go vegan overnight. And I, I find they're the most likely to go back to their old ways because it is a lot quite soon. You know, it's pretty much an overnight change. Um, in short, if your habits are really different from where you want to end up, then you need to make it a slow process of changing part by part. Um, so my first tip would be to break down the transition into small manageable steps. You might start with just selecting one item, be it milk cheese, you know, one particular animal product and just plan to have a week or two of removing just that. Um, you know, you might find your strong willed enough to overnight just go full vegan and good for you if you can do that. But a lot of people find that that's actually got more of an impact on their health. You might find, um, you might find that your body is a little bit disorientated perhaps by that for a little while. Your gut will be changing the, so the, the harsher you make that transition, I would honestly say the less likely you are to stick and the more likely you are to have any kind of problems. Yeah. Especially if you just go from having little fiber, like most, you know, people in the western world do having loads of fiber, you're gonna have some digestive discomfort from. Definitely. Yeah. You are more than likely to increase your fiber intake when you put more plants in your body. You know, I think it'll be really quite difficult not to do that. So Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. It, it's a critical place to end up at. But like you say, you don't wanna dive straight into going from a few grams of fiber to say 30 or 40. You'll find yourself making a few more bathroom trips if you do That . Yeah. But that said, even if that does happen, if you stick with it and there's no serious discomfort, no pain, then fingers crossed over time your body will just adjust to this. Um, it's, it's brand new. Yeah. Oh, it goes back to the bacteria argument. If you haven't got the correct bacteria to digest fiber in your gut because you've not been feeding them for such a long period of time, then you're now gonna chuck in a bunch of fiber and there isn't anything in there to help you digest it. So it's just gonna have to go straight through. Um, Yeah, because I think, I think that's an important thing point as well. You know, digestion is more than just nutrients traveling in and out of the digestive tract. Yeah, yeah. The bacteria in there play a very active role in processing those foods and different bacteria process different foods. So if you don't have the fiber loving bacteria, you're not gonna be able to digest it Properly. Exactly. While the gut itself doesn't structurally change necessarily the composition of different, you know, microorganisms in there changes hugely, it's a fluctuating system. Um, and it will always be best adjusted to how you eat currently. Um, yeah. So, you know, overnight changes, it will, it will take a while for your gut to adjust. And that's why I would just say your first, first major tip would be to, to plan to take it slowly, um, set all by all means, set yourself the goal of going vegan for vegan, but if it comes to the end of it and you're still struggling, then maybe make the next step to slow things down a little bit and just pick one thing at a time. Yeah, exactly. So I think that's, that's a good, good starting point. And I think mine sort of leads on for that. We talked about replacing things, you know, oh, removing things from your diet. Milk cheese, this is a slightly sort of, uh, on the cheek one, which, which basically if you're gonna remove cheese, well obviously you're going to remove cheese from the diet to go vegan. Mm-hmm. , forget about trying to replace it. Yes. Now the reason, the reason I say that is cheese is the number one reason people stay for not wanting to try veganism. You know, everyone loves cheese and there's many vegan cheeses out there, but if you go straight from dairy cheese to vegan cheese, you're gonna be disappointed by the flavor. Yeah. You're gonna be disappointed by the texture the way it melts. And ultimately cheese is terrible for you. It's saturated fat, you know, saturated fat clogs your arteries up. And vegan cheese is also made from saturated fat, usually from coconuts. So what you might find is if you basically forget about cheese and just say to yourself, I'm not go, I'm not gonna be able to eat this for a month, it's the way it is. I'm going, vegan cheese is not an an option. You might be surprised at how quickly you stop missing it. Mm. Because shal does change and actually some of those vegan cheeses then do start to taste nice. But again, it's not, it's not something you should be eating a lot. But I mean, cathedral City have a great vegan cheddar, but if you can get used to not having it, your palate will change and you won't miss it. I think, I think a lot of people don't realize how addictive cheese can be. Actually, I think that's what a lot of people when they transition really struggle with this cheese. Um, and that is probably one of the most common things I get told as a nutritionist is, oh, I could never do it. I can never give up cheese. Yeah. Um, and unfortunately it's kind of the, the one thing that you have to admit is we haven't really got a vegan replacement for cheese out there yet. That really does just work perfectly. Um, it is probably the one, the one product I'd say that's true for. Um, but it is ultimately best to keep out your diet regardless. Like you say saturated fat, whether it's from an animal or from coconuts, is, uh, yeah. It's definitely best avoided. Yeah. But, uh, yeah. But golden rules if, if the fats side at room temperature, yes. You should probably, probably avoid it. Well that I, I was thinking this the other day. I was looking at, uh, coconut oil hardening and I kind of thought it, it, it's gonna do that in your body at some point. You know, it might be warmer in there, but it's clearly quite dense if it can harden that quickly. Yeah, I know, um, we spoke with, uh, did an interview with Neil Neil Barnard and he was very critical of coconut oil. Yeah. Basically saying it's basically as bad as butter, So Yeah. Yeah. It's very, very, very saturated. Um, it hardens quickly, so it's always best avoided. Yeah. But, um, so, So what, what next Then the next thing I I was gonna say is to not treat slipups, uh, as complete and total failure. So anytime you take a step back to your old diet or an animal product slips back in, perhaps you've gone out for a meal and there wasn't an option that you're happy with, you know, while you're transitioning on and during at least that first month, you just need to allow yourself the odd occasion where you're just inevitably gonna slip back a little bit. Uh, and it's about recognizing that that's not the end of your veganism. You know, it doesn't make you no longer a vegan, you just need to get back on track as soon as you next can. Do you know what I mean? A lot of people do just kind of give up and think, oh, I've not been able to do it and go completely back. But it is just allow yourself those sort of first few months at least just to have a few slipups and, and not treat that as the, as the B one end all. Yeah. I think that's really important. And, and there probably will be people who will be quick to jump on the slipups. You know, you will probably get some criticism from, from people and there is still a stigma attached to Oh, you're vegan. You, you have to tell people that you're vegan. Yeah. They usually, the people who who say, if you say I'm having hot dogs for dinner, they say, I thought you were vegan. And then if you say, okay, I'm having vegan hot dogs for dinner, they say, oh, stop telling you're vegan. We kinda cornered on that front, aren't we ? Yeah. You can't, you can't win win. And on and on that, you know, talking about those fake meats is you transition with we're saying it's good to try and replace some of your favorite meals. And what I would say is there are easy ways to do that with the meat replacements that are out there, but I don't think you should, you should try not to be too reliant on those, those fake meats because they are heavily processed. Uh, I've got a close friend who tried veganism and he said, while I enjoyed the food, it didn't make him feel any better, but it's because pretty much heavy meal had processed fake meats in there. Yeah. And I think a good, this sort of ties into a second point, a good way to, to try and do this better is to do a little bit of research around some of the recipes and look at what, let's say you're eating an international food. What in that culture would they usually use in place of meat, whether it's lentils or beans or tofu. If you can get used to getting your protein from that instead of fake meat, you'll quickly start to feel some of those health benefits as well. Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of people, for obvious reasons, it makes it really quick, quite convenient when they transition, uh, latch very quickly to a lot of processed foods. Um, yeah. And I, I would honestly say if you are thinking about transitioning and you can kind of only see that as the, sorry, you can see that as the only way perhaps for you to go vegan then, at least for the start, it's probably not the end of the world. But it's, it's one of those things where if it's what you are eating every day, then you have to accept that you've made your diet now a, you know, quite a heavily processed diet. Um, again, it's perhaps you should transition first to whatever vegan diet will work well for you with the goal maybe one day further down the line to sort of transition further away from it. Yeah. And, and what you might find as well is at first some of those healthier replacements. You know, a company I really like is a company called, gosh, you probably in a lot of that stuff as well. They make things like flappers and stuff. They tasted really boring and dull to me when I first started cause I was heavily on the fake meats. But now I find that I craved that kind of stuff over the fake meats because I am guessing the, the bacteria that room I got now are craving those fiber rich protein sources and those more, more sort of unprocessed protein sauce. But it is a bit of a transition that you have to work towards. Definitely. I think that's the thing. And not enough people know as well about how much your taste buds change. Um, you know, it really is true. You spoke there about the bacteria in your gut changing and that having a relationship with your taste buds. Not many people know that that's a thing still. You know, not many people realize that as your gut changes, your taste buds change. There was a study on, um, I think it was on rats and they removed all of the bacteria from their gut, um, or made an attempt to completely wipe them of bacteria and they found that they all switched to a much sweeter tooth, uh, way of eating. Um, and I found that really interesting to see the relationship between sort of gut bacteria and taste. But I think that is it. You have to prepare for the fact that at the start you're gonna, you used to meat and dairy and that kind of traditional way of eating. So everything you do is gonna be slightly different. But things that you might think you don't like now you will down the line really start to enjoy. Um, definitely like you say about the slightly less, um, less processed foods, they almost did at the start feel quite boring, but now they feel really, really quite exciting. Especially as you switch towards more whole food plant-based, you, you sort of appreciate it more. Um, yeah. And like I try to avoid sugar and I, I find, I find myself eating fruits and vegetables or, or even just like a um, like an ogen or something, you start to really appreciate how sweet some foods just naturally are, uh, when you're not used to just constantly consuming things with sugar . Yeah, yeah. Like think of sweet potato and stuff like that as well. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I mean, the keys in the name sweet potato, isn't it? , there's a, there's a little hint in that one. Um, another thing I thought was, uh, look out for things that are already vegan that you didn't know about. Um, lots of products in the supermarket that they're not necessarily labeled as vegan. Um, but things like, you know, puff pastry, just roll puff past that, that for example is, is already vegan. You don't need to find a recipe online to make your own, even though that would probably be the healthier thing to recommend. But, But then they also have things like, uh, just roll Pancho croon, cinnamon rolls, all vegan. Yeah. I mean it's the rise of the thing called accidentally vegan, isn't it? Yeah, yeah, Yeah. That's, uh, that's really taken off and there are, there are so many things out there. Um, you know, if if you've got a sweet tooth, you'll probably be able to find something. Well, you'll find most, most, most, I would honestly say most things down there, you'll, without, you know, the milky chocolates and things like that, you will probably find a lot more than you realize is already vegan. Um, but at the same time it is kind of think about maybe starting to replace these foods over time with, with healthier options. But if you need them at the start, then, then just allow yourself to, to have them. Yeah, definitely. And then I think sort of tying into that is then, I think we've covered this already, but just to hit on it again, is be be willing to embrace these new flavors because there are so many exciting things to try. Um, I think one of the most important things you can ha you can try and learn as well over, over the course of, of, of the transition is learning how to cook tofu. Yeah. Because , you do, if if you think tofu is blunt, then what you're saying is the only marinade you've ever tried is air. Yes. And actually tofu needs to be treated with respect and . I always tell people if if you're, if you're gonna try tofu for the first time by tofu, we're not sponsored by these by tofu company Tofu. Yes. Uh, it's spelled t o f double O because it's ready to go. You don't have to drain it, you don't have to squeeze the whole Juice out. But honestly, well I, and like you say, we aren't sponsored, but that was a game changer. A real game changer. Yeah. You know, to go from having to press it between two plates and Yeah. Yeah. You know, spend ages, they're marinating it, it is, uh, it, it comes ready to just chop up and use. It's, it's really good. Um, So would you recommend meal prep as well to people? Yeah, I, if, if that's something that, that you think you can do a hundred percent, but at the same time I would, I don't prep most of my meals. Um, and I would honestly say it's, it is a lot about how you shop, um, if you are, well, it's a lot about how you shop and a lot about how you live. If you've got a very busy lifestyle, then that's probably really important. If you've not got the time to cook, um, then you're gonna need to find some time to, to prepare and batch cook. Um, cause I think one of the most dangerous sayings is, I'll grab something on the way. That's something we've all got in the, the habit of saying, you know, on the way to work easy. Oh, I'll just grab something on the way. Um, uh, my friend got got a mouthful off me the other day for saying those words. I was like, Nope. Dangerous. Because that means popping into a, a tuck shop or something and getting a sugary quests on or, or you know, some, a really sugary coffee. So I would say meal prep if you are busy, if you're on the go, then definitely, otherwise if you have time to cook, I'd say the most important thing is the food you surround yourself with. Um, you know, when you go shopping, if you are, if you're not buying in those problematic foods, um, it's, you're quite unlikely to relapse. Uh, that's what I found when transitioning to Whole Food plant-based was just not to buy processed foods and have them around the house. So when I want a snack, I'm forced to either cook something, uh, or go for fruit and vegetables, which is, you know, it's, it's uh, it must sound really boring to some people, but trust me it does kind of become a little bit more natural as, as you sort of transition. Yeah. More enjoyable. Yeah, Definitely. Little things like nuts and seeds as well. Good Snacks. I has a cashew nuts. Mom always finds me in the kitchen scuff in my face with cashew nuts. So . Oh yeah. The cash nuts for delicious. They Are. Um, but yeah, some people find a food diary helps some people find meal prep, um, you know, to a tea really helps them. It is quite individual. It, it, it, it does kind of depend on how you live your life and, and how, cuz some people just love cooking and they can always head into the cook kitchen and cook. If you're that kind of person, then just change the foods in your house. Um, definitely. So, so on the topic then of, cuz I think we've, we've given some good tips there, but I think the big question we need to answer at the end is, how do we get everything we need? So yeah. Are there certain ingredients that you think, you know, should be consumed at least weekly or daily to, to try and take off as many of those nutrients as possible? So I think a few major concerns with, uh, nutrients that I think you hear most commonly are protein, iron, and calcium. Yeah. I, I'd say they're the three that people most commonly report, uh, having problems with. A lot of people that transition to vegans say their energy levels weren't great or, you know, go back because something went wrong. They normally jump to something like iron. Um, and lots of people have problems with getting enough calcium. The one ingredient that I would say honestly ticks all three of those boxes in one hit is tofu or soy. Yep. Any, any soy based product. It could be Tempe. Uh, it hits all three of those, um, sort of on the head and a very, very, very generous amount of each, um, realistically lentils, nuts and seeds. It, it's about eating broad. Um, cause I think this is the thing when it comes to a protein concerns, if you were to compare a block of protein, uh, sorry, a block of meat with, uh, broccoli for example, you're gonna find they've got very different amounts of protein. Yeah. But obviously when you're eating a whole food plant based offer, vegan can diet, you are eating a whole ton more, uh, than just one bit of broccoli. Um, Yeah, I mean if, if I can just chime in for a second actually. Yeah. Um, so I, I'm, I I'm currently trying to get more protein. I'm basically on the goal of gain gaining muscle mass. Yep. And today from three meals I will have had the 4,000 calories, which is what I need to gain mass and 200 grams of protein quite easily. Which is what, you know, someone who was trying to build muscle would be going for. And you would think we gonna get that from meat, but it's very easy. Yep. I've had tofu, I've had quinoa, I've had nuts, I've had seeds, I've had beans. And it's a wide variety of flavors, foods and it's healthy clean protein that's easily accessible by the body. Exactly. And I, I think I, we, we are probably quite used to hearing it, but there are still people that don't know that all protein comes from plants ultimately. Uh, yeah. Yeah. You know, the only reason that animals, uh, and meat contain protein for example is because they've been spending their life eating plants. Um, so why not just go straight to the source And they are, they are, there are plenty of foods with plenty of protein. Um, you know, lentils and tofu I would say are the two that, that I would say most days, if not at least once a week with lentils, but tofu or some soy based product. If you can find a way that you enjoy eating them, I I'd definitely say that's probably a daily recommendation. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Um, just to sort of get the ion calcium and protein where they should be. The o the other nutrients worth mentioning are vitamin D and b12. Yeah. Um, these aren't really something that are exclusively a vegan pro problem. Um, no, especially b12. We are all kind of facing a bit of an issue with b12. Um, animals that are raised for human consumption are quite often artificially supplemented with this. Um, because we're facing such a big problem around the world with b12. Um, but this is something that you will just have to accept. You're gonna have to, uh, supplement or perhaps look for nice rich sources like, uh, nutritional yeast. There are some things you can get, but I would honestly say that the best bet would be to supplement b12. Definitely. It's really important Even if, even if you are getting it from diet as well, just to make sure you get it. Because if you're B12 deficient you can have serious neurological Problems. It's a co-factor for so many other nutrients as well. You know, know even your iron levels rely on your B12 levels. Oh, really? Didn't know that. Yeah. So they work, they all kind of work together. Um, so it is quite important that you make sure you've got your B vitamins where they should be. So yeah, I, I supplement every day with B12 and I would say the majority of vegans, at least the ones that have done their research, would, would be doing the same thing. Definitely. Um, but I can't stress it enough. It really is not just a vegan issue. There are an awful lot of people out there needing b12, uh, that have no idea. Mm-hmm. . Um, and it's kinda one of those things where I said earlier about it's they, they say vegans need to think about their food almost as if people who eat the default diet don't. We all need to think about things like that. Um, the other one is vitamin D. And again, I would say this isn't just a vegan problem. We've got lots of animals now raised in captivity, in small cages, uh, indoors. They're not gonna be getting the sunlight that they should be getting. So even if you're eating animals that are raised sort of in, in a battery environment, you're probably not gonna be getting the same levels of it Mindy, that you think you are. Um, I would honestly say that we, in the majority of the time in the summer, we get all we need from the sunlight for our skin. Yeah. Um, but definitely in those winter months, if you are in a northern hemisphere country, you need to be supplementing vitamin D as well. Um, so B12 always and then vitamin D especially throughout the winter. Yeah. And you can either buy those as individual vitamins or you can buy vegan multivitamins. Yeah. And it's one of those, you, you may as well take one because even if you're getting everything that you that you need, taking a vitamin supplement won't harm you and they side effect might be expensive urine. That's it. , there's no, there's no, there's no downsides really. No, exactly. The B12 is water soluble. So at the end of the day, if you have taken more than you need, you'll just, uh, you'll just excrete whatever's left over. So yeah, let's put it quite a safe one. Um, and I think while you can take too much vitamin d a supplement, even if you've got enough, you'll be fine. You know, just, just a regular supplement. But uh, if you're struggling to find supplements, I'm pretty sure the vegan society are still doing their veg one. I think that's quite a nice all rounder for anyone transitioning. I think that ticks both the B12 and vitamin D boxes. So that's a good One. I think Hobar do some good ones as well. The vegan, vegan sort of targeted as well. Yep. I I, I think the other thing, I think all, all the vitamins, you know, very easy to get from food. You're gonna be in lots of fruits, especially if you eat a, a good way to start a day is something like oats with, with uh, vegan milk chi seeds for your and flax seeds for your amigos. And then berries on top for your vitamin C uh, some of your B vitamins, gins. And then this, you know, you find some, some sources like we're always told potatoes really bad for us, but potatoes are like iron powerhouses. Yeah. And for m and c, which is really, really, uh, important for M and C and iron in combination actually get boosted at a higher rate. Um, so if you've got, if you're taking your iron sources, uh, this is another one of my tips actually. We've moved on quickly though , uh, but if you are eating iron sources, you wanna be pairing them with vitamin C because they really, really highly boost the absorption. Yeah. And alongside that, you wanna be avoiding high iron sources with high calcium, um, because calcium's quite competitive when it comes to absorption. So iron with vitamin C and if you can try and avoid too much iron with too much calcium. Um, yeah. Have you got any more tips for, to the listeners? Uh, I feel like I could do this forever. Um, I've got buy in bulk. That's another one. If you start to kind of, yeah. You know, start to kind of find the meals that you are eating quite regularly, then get lentils. Get chickpeas. It, it gets quite cheap if you get things in bulk. Um, definitely. So yeah, I'd say stock up. Um, and yeah, think about your shop. The food shop's quite quite the important one. Um, just make sure you've got everything you need. Prepare recipes, prepare ingredients, just make sure you've got everything around you to not have that day where you panic and think, I'm gonna have to relapse cuz I've not got what I need in front of me. Yeah, definitely. Um, but yeah. Okay. I I think we could talk about this forever. Yeah. , but I think there's eventually a time where we have to wrap up. Yeah. I think we've given you guys plenty to go on, but what I will say is if you are excited about this but also unsure and still think you need a little bit more advice, you can reach out to us and we'll be happy to take on, uh, you any questions and give advice. We have an email address to vegan, but you can also contact us individually as well. So I'm on Instagram at underscore Samuel Plant and on TikTok underscore Samuel Plant. But really if your questions are about things like nutrition and try and that kind of thing, then the other Sam is you guide. So Sam, how can people get in touch with you and get some of your more personalized advice? Uh, Exactly the same. You can, uh, you can email me if you'd prefer. That's, uh, Sam go plant, uh, or you can message me on Instagram or gimme a follow and that's Um, and I'd be happy to talk about absolutely anything. And then as you can hear, I'll do it forever. And you still have, do you still have the website as well with things like recipes and that kind of Stuff? Yes. So I'm, I'm updating the website at the moment. It's, uh, go plant, uh, and I've got re recipes on there. I've, I can write for days about all sorts of things. So you can read, uh, read some blog articles on there as well. Um, but yeah, there's, uh, I've just started a new section on there as well, actually success stories. So maybe we'll, uh, get a few more this week of people that have gone vegan and had success with it. So yeah. So yeah, feel free, feel free to reach out to us. I'll put the details for all these, these different contacts into the comments and the show notes so you guys can follow that. But I think that's all for today. So we'd like to end by thanking you all for listening. Thank you. We're hopefully enjoy the episode. Make sure you click subscribe on whatever podcast you're listening to on throw as your rating if you can. And we'll speak to you all next time. Thank you.

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© Two Vegan Scientists 2023

Seek a general practitioner's advice before making lifestyle changes. This site is for informational purposes only. All content, including external, is not to be received as advice.

Proud to be Top-Rated by Best Podcasts

© Two Vegan Scientists 2023

Seek a general practitioner's advice before making lifestyle changes. This site is for informational purposes only. All content, including external, is not to be received as advice.

Proud to be Top-Rated by Best Podcasts