Are you vegan or considering a switch to veganism after reading our blogs? That is to be expected, after all, veganism as a lifestyle is very alluring. As a vegan, you don’t only save animals, you help heal the earth, and you may see potential improvements to your health. The fact that our writer is very good with words and rhetoric helps too.
But chances are you are now overwhelmed and many questions are going through your mind. What should I eat now? Do I need to change my shampoo brand? But what if I start missing cheese? These are all normal questions to have, and we are here to answer them. In this article, we have compiled the ultimate guide to help you on your journey toward making a lifestyle vegan.
What to eat on day-to-day?
For the most part, your diet will remain the same. All the classics that we eat daily are vegan by default. Dosa, Dal, pulao, rajma, chole, rice, rotis, parathas, idly vada, samosas, and most of the typical Indian diet is vegan, to begin with. You will not be starving anytime soon. If a dish has butter, ghee, paneer, or other dairy products, you can just replace these ingredients with a vegan alternative. There are two levels to this. The simple option would be to substitute with a traditional plant-based ingredient. For example coconut oil instead of ghee. The more advanced option would be to get the proper vegan alternative. Yes, vegan ghee is a thing.
Eating out as a vegan
As already mentioned, a lot of the Indian diet is already vegan. It is unlikely you will find an issue finding an option in a local restaurant. However, it is always advisable to tell the restaurant staff not to use any dairy products in your food. Saying you have an allergy usually makes them take the request seriously.
If you are eating at western style restaurant or a cafe, it might be a bit challenging as these dishes tend to be heavy on cheese and meat, but it is still possible. Check with the staff and ask them if they have vegan options, the staff at such places will usually understand what you mean and will be happy to help you select one of the available options or even ask the chef to make a dish vegan for you.
Lastly, keep in mind there are plenty of purely vegan restaurants and non-vegan restaurants that have a vegan menu. Below we’ll list some.
I am craving cheese, What should I do?
Whatever products that you used to enjoy before going vegan, you can still enjoy them after going vegan. Veganism is not as limiting as it was some 20 years back. Nowadays anything that your taste buds enjoy from cheese to ice cream to even meat itself, can be found vegan.
For everyday kitchen replacements, these are easy options:
– Oat milk (available in most shops in the cities nowadays), or other plant milk, instead of cow milk.
– Coconut cream instead of dairy cream.
– Coconut oil instead ghee/butter.
– Soy chunks and soy granules instead of meat.
But beyond these basic everyday replacements, here is a list of brands and websites to help you shop for other goods.
You could even order Oatish oat milk via our website Dancing Cow directly!
What about making gains, bro?
Similar to food, all fitness supplements have vegan alternatives. Pretty much everything like EAAs, Preworkout, Creatine, and most of the standard stuff is by default vegan. The only 3 exceptions would be protein powder, mass gainers, and fish oil.
For the protein powder, many brands make plant-based protein supplements, the source of the protein will differ from brand to brand but it is generally a good idea to pick a powder that has a blend of 2 sources or more, for example, pea + rice, instead of just pea. Plant-based protein powders may or may not be enjoyable taste-wise so it might take some time to get used to them. But they are easier on the digestive system and keep you fuller for a longer time because of the fiber content, which can be a good thing for your weight loss goals.
Vegan mass gainers are a bit less common, but they still exist and can be easily found online.
Fish oil can be replaced with an algae oil supplement.
Below is a list of supplement brands that are either completely vegan or sell vegan products:
– Flat Tummies
– Oliva Pea Protein
– Flex Protein
– Boho Life (Hemp Protein)
– Plix Life – Plant Protein
– bGREEN by HealthKart
– Origin Nutrition
– Fast and up
– WOW Life Science
– Muscle Blaze
Some Nutrition advice
To thrive on a vegan diet, you want to plan it right. Typically there are nutrients that you will start taking more off when you go vegan as these tend to be mainly obtained from plant-based foods. For example, vitamin C as it tends to come from fresh fruit, and vitamin E as it mainly comes from nuts and seeds.
The number one piece of advice I can give you is to ensure that you are eating mostly whole foods. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs, and so on. Let the vegan cheese and biryani be a once-in-a-while treat, not staples in your diet.
The second piece of advice is to make sure you are eating enough calories. Whole plant-based foods tend to have fewer calories per volume as they tend to be lower in fats and not processed. For the majority of people who are trying to lose weight or want to eat more food without gaining weight, this is fantastic news. However, if you are someone who is not trying to lose weight it’s something to consider.
Lastly here are some nutrients that you want to pay attention to, and where to get them from:
B12 on a vegan diet
Supplement. No other choice. Ironically in the past, this was the easiest nutrient to get. But the way the agriculture system is set up nowadays makes it impossible to get this vitamin from nature as our ancestors used to. If you are eating meat, then you are already supplementing indirectly. Farm animals are fed B12 supplements and then you eat the farm animals. Now you are going to skip the animal and eat the supplement directly.
Protein on a vegan diet
Think of the foods with “ tough texture”, they all have plenty of protein. Examples include Lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts, and sprouts. Some slightly processed but healthy products like tofu, soy chunks, and tempeh are excellent sources of protein. Some whole grains like oats and whole wheat also have a decent amount of protein in them.
Vitamin A on a vegan diet
Eat a lot of leafy greens. And I mean it when I say a lot. Spinach, kale, basil, coriander, and others. Basically anything with leaves and green. Orange vegetables like carrots and pumpkin are also good sources.
Iron on a vegan diet
Probably not a concern unless you are anemic or chronically undereating. In which case leafy greens and lentils are good. If you are still in doubt you can start cooking in a cast iron skillet. But be careful, high iron levels are toxic.
Zinc on a vegan diet
pumpkin seeds, oats, other whole grains, and peanuts.
Omega 3 fatty acids
These come in 3 types. flaxseed, and chia seed for ALA fatty acids. Seaweed for DHA and EPA fatty acids. If you don’t have access to seaweed either up your intake of flaxseeds or take an algae oil supplement.
– Selenium: one brazil nut a day can take care of this. Oats are also a good source
Cosmetics – Do I need to throw away my makeup box?
A lot of cosmetic products are either tested on animals or contain animal products. Chances are you already own non-vegan products. Cosmetics tend to be the last thing a person vegans on their journey. If you already have such products, don’t throw them away, instead, use them till they’re over. Don’t unnecessarily waste precious resources and tax the environment. You do however want to start buying vegan brands on your next purchases. Below is a list of cosmetics brands that are either vegan or have cruelty free and animal free products.
– Disguise cosmetics
– Veda Earth
-Biotique (some products)
Clothing- Should I throw away my leather belt?
Again, if you have clothes made from animal products such as leather or fur, don’t throw them away. You can either keep using them or if you don’t feel comfortable wearing them anymore, you can sell them or donate them.
But for your future shopping needs, below is a list of brands that sells vegan leather products and other clothing items
-A Big Indian Story
-Senso Vegetarian Shoes
-Call It Spring
-Shubham Sarees – Vegan silk
Social life as a vegan
Once you start transitioning into this new life, you might find the social aspect of your life a bit affected. This largely depends on the social circle you already have in your life and how open-minded the people you keep around are. But in general, it is human nature to try to surround ourselves with people who are similar to us or with whom we share interests. Below you will find ways to start getting integrated into the vegan community.
These don’t happen as often as they used to before covid, but they still happen and they are still a wonderful opportunity to do shopping, meet new people, and discover new brands. Some festivals are:
-The kind of fest
-Satvik vegan festival
Vegan gatherings and social events
Small gatherings are also another chance to make friends and network while having fun. These events include :
- The weekly Vegan Sunday brunch at Benaimal Hostel (Bangalore)
It sounds a bit hard to believe but some communities require the members to be vegan or include only vegan people. These communities include:
– Sadhana Forest, Tamil Nadu
– Satvik Vegan Society
After a while of being vegan, you might start thinking about taking the next step and becoming an animal rights activist. Once you feel ready to take the step, not only is veganism an opportunity to help alleviate the suffering of animals and speak up for them, but it is also a great chance to meet like-minded individuals.
Activism can be done either through volunteering for vegan organizations. Examples include:
– Peepal Farm (Dharamshala, HP)
– Sadhana Forest (Pondicherry, TN)
Or can be done by joining your city’s local activism group. Some of these are
– Bengaluru’s Brigade For Animal Liberation (They were a huge help while writing this article)
– Vegans United Madhya Pradesh
– Delhi Vegans for Animal Liberation
– Vegan Bhaglapur Movement
– Rajasthan Vegan Movement
Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can seem like a daunting task at first. Just like with all major decisions in life, it is best to approach it as a process that can be gone through one step at a time.