Moreso than ever before, the thought of going vegan/vegetarian has been on many people's mind. While many opt for this heavily plant-based diet due to health reasons, others choose this lifestyle in hopes to reduce their environmental footprint, or simply they have become aware of how animals are treated before becoming someone's dinner. However, many fail at maintaining a vegan lifestyle. Some reasons include the challenges that come with being vegan (i.e. planning meals, going out to restaurants, etc.), or people are just not seeing the results they want, thus creating a scenario where the perceived benefits outway the perceived challenges. If you are someone thinking of going vegan, check out this interview piece Nathan Diaz MS, RD, LDN did with other nutritional professionals where they dive into what people need to know about the vegan diet. Click here to access the radio piece.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) has a position paper that dives deep into what one must be aware of when going vegetarian/vegan. Click here to access this article.
**Note: This article, radio snippet, and position paper by the AND focuses on the vegan diet. Being a vegan is not just about what you consume, it is considered a lifestyle to many.
Being a vegan means you do not consume any animals or animal products (i.e. honey, gelatin, meat stocks, etc.). This is different from being a vegetarian in that vegetarians simply do not consume animals, yet still may consume animal products. As you can see from our definition of a vegan diet, many challenges surface. Here are the top three challenges vegans face:
- Accounting for and supplementing nutrients that are found in animals and animal products. Nutrients such as complete proteins (contain essential building blocks or amino acids), iron (especially for females), vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, iodine, and vitamin D need to be accounted for when adopting a vegan diet. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a position paper that dives deeper into the different nutrients one must be aware of when going vegetarian/vegan. It also talks about other ways to get these specific nutrients. Click here to access the position paper.
- Planning/cooking meals so you know exactly what you are consuming. This is a challenge for many, especially since cooking has become a lost art. If cooking is out of the question, there are food service companies out there that will deliver vegan meals to your door, but be prepared to spend a pretty penny on this service. A night out with coworkers, or a family dinner at your parent's favorite steakhouse? Be prepared to ask the server a lot of questions regarding the menu items. Many times, all the ingredients used in a dish are not listed on the menu, so ask ask ask!
- Sticking to being vegan/vegetarian. Many people go into this lifestyle to just try something new. That is perfectly ok. Make sure you have a deeper meaning as to why you want to go vegan or vegetarian. This will give you a purpose and give you a sense of motivation when obstacles come your way. Like any type of behavioral modification, it takes time to adopt. There will be plenty of "I quit" moments, but if you are serious about making a difference with your health or your environment, those "I quit" moments will be non-existent.
Give the radio interview a listen, as well as read the position paper to better understand what to look out for when going vegan/vegetarian. Best of luck!
Nutrition For Performance