There are so many different reasons to at least consider going vegan. According to Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, a plant-based dietitian and health and fitness expert, "There is a spectrum of well-established benefits of a plant-based diet, from a decreased risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and certain cancers to improved gastrointestinal health, immune function, and weight management."
Perhaps more importantly, though, animal agriculture is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, and you can reduce your carbon footprint by 50 percent if you eat a plant-based diet. So there's a lot at stake.
I've been vegan for a long time, but I know firsthand that it can be difficult to make the switch. Once you get over the hump, though, it's totally worth it! If you're thinking about going vegan but feel like you need some extra help, POPSUGAR gathered some expert tips from Julieanna.
Focus on the New Foods You Get to Introduce Into Your Diet
Rather than thinking about all the things you can't eat anymore, consider all the new and exciting things you get to try. "Have you seen how many varieties of whole grains and the wall of plant milks on the shelves these days?" Julieanna said. If you keep your thoughts positive — like a "glass half-full" person might — instead of whining about the food you're no longer eating, you'll enjoy cooking and eating much more.
Experiment With New Dishes
The restaurants and cafes where you're used to eating out may not have vegan options. This is a great excuse to get comfortable in the kitchen and try out all the yummy vegan recipes you see online these days. "Begin a repertoire of delicious dishes made from any of the infinite combinations of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices to enjoy on a regular basis," Julieanna recommended.
Do Your Research on the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
You want to know why you're eating the way you're eating, so Julieanna suggests you take some time and do your homework. "Find valid, scientifically-substantiated articles, books, and websites so you know just where all of your nutrients come from," she told POPSUGAR. This will give you everything you need "to build a well-rounded, healthful diet."
Besides, you're much more likely to stick this healthy way of living if you fully comprehend the vast benefits it has for your body.
Avoid Processed Foods
"Just because something is vegan, does not mean it is healthful," Julieanna reminded us. "For example, Oreos and Twizzlers are vegan. There are so many vegan chips, ice creams, cookies, and more available nowadays that will clearly not contribute to your health. Emphasize whole plant foods for optimal results."
You want to give your body the best food possible so it can function at its highest capacity — and that doesn't include processed foods. If you want a salty or sweet snack, put on your chef hat and make it yourself! There are plenty of recipes out there for yummy vegan treats, like these pumpkin spice doughnuts or these no-bake pecan and date brownies.
Don't Talk About It All the Time With Friends and Family
Finally, Julieanna recommends that you don't make all your conversations about going vegan. Many people still don't fully understand why anyone would go vegan — and that's OK — and they might even be mean and tease you endlessly for it. When you're making such a big, positive change in your life, you don't need everyone's feedback, especially the negative kind.
"The single biggest challenge to a plant-based diet is the social opposition and pressure you will invariably experience," Julieanna said. "My advice is to ignore everyone's unknowing advice around you. Avoid discussing it with friends and family."
Know what is best for your body, stick to your guns, and enjoy everything you eat. You'll already be on a long path to success.