COLUMN: Four steps to guide your vegan diet

Grammy winner Ariana Grande declared her love for animals and the desire for better health as the reasons she decided to go fully vegan in 2013. The all-plant vegan diet – without eggs, dairy or meat – has attracted interest from ‘a wider audience.

Statistics show that people buy vegan food. Mintel reports a 61% increase in new non-dairy products in the United States since 2012, and Fitt Insider says the vegetarian and vegan markets will have a net worth of $ 5 billion in 2020.

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If you want to start a vegan diet but don’t know where to start, here are four simple steps to guide you:

1. Get to know veganism first

IU student Casey Cotner is vegan and her journey began two years ago. She recommended that newcomer vegans do research and watch documentaries on veganism.

“It’s important to understand why you are going vegan and the benefits of going vegan,” Cotner said.

2. Take small steps to start your diet

UI student Kaitlyn Petrow has been a vegan for seven years. For those who are just starting a vegan diet, she suggests committing to one vegan meal per week, and once you’re used to it, make it a daily habit.

“If you start small with just one meal a week or one meal a day, that makes it a lot easier,” Petrow said.

Cotner said she was a vegetarian for four years before going fully vegan. If you find a vegan diet difficult, try vegetarianism as it is not as restrictive as veganism. Vegetarians can still consume eggs, dairy products, and honey.

3. Test your cooking skills

“Try the kitchen,” Petrow said. “Try new recipes.”

When she first switched to vegan foods, Petrow searched for vegan recipes online, then cooked her own meals. She would combine rice and beans in her protein source, then the next day she would have broccoli for protein.

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Shannon Livengood, coordinator of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, said she would check the magazines’ recipes. She has been adhering to vegan food since June 2020. Magazines such as Veg World Magazine or The Vegan Magazine provide vegan recipes and lifestyle advice.

“It’s really tough, especially if someone loves food as much as I do,” Livengood said. “There is so much food that I love.”

4. Don’t limit yourself to vegan food

Livengood said it’s okay not to restrict yourself to a variety of foods and eat what you like.

“There are days when we crave a chocolate chip cookie and they’re not totally vegan,” Livengood said. “Sometimes I eat them, and it helped me have a little something that I enjoy.”

Remember, when you follow this diet, you are doing it for yourself, your own health, and your beliefs. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan diet, but you can build habits from your daily actions.