Going plant-based has many health benefits, but you need to make sure you are still getting all your essential vitamins and minerals. Some common deficiencies are iron, vitamin D, vitamin B-12 and zinc. Taking some supplements can fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.
Better yet, you could also choose food sources that contain these naturally. Lentils, nuts and fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and seaweed can give you essential vitamins and minerals and will help improve your gut health. Try adding nutritional yeast to your diet to get your dose of vitamin B-12.
When following a plant-based diet, you need to be careful when shopping. Always read labels on packaged foods to see if there are any hidden animal products. Some common examples include lactose, whey, rennet and castoreum, which are used as proteins or thickeners but may not be immediately obvious to a new vegan.
Eating at restaurants is another thing that may require some forward planning. Check a restaurant’s website or give them a call before visiting to see what plant-based options they offer. Though many have separate vegetarian and vegan menus, some restaurants offer substitutes if you cannot eat some of the ingredients.
A plant-based lifestyle goes beyond your diet. The principles of veganism can be applied to clothing, cosmetics and any other products you use every day. When buying new clothes, some of the common animal-derived materials to avoid are wool, fur, leather, suede, silk, down (often found in coats) and cashmere. Be especially careful when buying shoes because linings, soles and even the glue used to hold the shoe together can be made from animals. If you’ve had a pair of leather shoes for years and they are still in good condition, you can still wear them. It would be wasteful to throw them out for the sake of it. Just don’t buy any more leather from now on.