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A thoughtful journey- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

HYDERABAD: Deciding to embrace a vegan lifestyle is a personal choice driven by various reasons. For some, it’s about a commitment to making mindful choices; for others, it’s a means to achieve specific health goals or to support broader environmental and social objectives. While a vegan diet offers numerous benefits, it’s essential to remember that it’s just one of many ways to achieve these objectives.

A vegan diet primarily comprises plant-based foods, entirely excluding animal products such as dairy, meat, and even honey. “This dietary choice has been associated with several health benefits, including better management of conditions like cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and obesity, along with effective weight management,” said Aswini Sagar, founder, Ahaarveda, ahead of World Vegan Day.

Transitioning to a vegan diet
For individuals accustomed to a traditional diet, transitioning to a vegan lifestyle can be challenging. It’s important to recognise that this transition cannot happen overnight; it requires careful planning and a gradual shift. “The pace of the transition should align with individual energy levels, commitment, and capability,” Sagar said. “Start by making two to three changes at a time rather than attempting a complete transformation all at once. For example, if you’re accustomed to a non-vegetarian diet, you could begin with plant-based options and then progress to full veganism,” she added. 

The duration of the transition can vary widely, lasting anywhere from one week to one or two months, depending on individual comfort levels and adaptability. Sagar mentioned that home-cooked meals play an important role in the transition to a vegan diet as they offer variety and stability. 

Challenges and precautions
Transitioning to a vegan diet may come with a unique set of challenges. Firstly, individuals may grapple with the substantial volume of food while shifting, as plant-based protein sources can be bulkier compared to non-vegetarian alternatives. This adjustment can be perplexing for those accustomed to non-vegetarian diets.

Moreover, the transition demands time and energy, and changes in bowel movements, energy levels, and digestion may occur, which individuals need to adapt to gradually. It’s essential to recognise that these changes are part of the process and not a cause for concern.

While embracing a vegan lifestyle is a commendable choice, it’s crucial to make informed decisions and ensure nutritional adequacy. One should be mindful of dietary balance, as not all vegan options offer the same nutritional value as their non-vegetarian counterparts. Understanding the alternatives and making nutritionally sound choices is vital.

“Certain precautions are necessary for specific groups, such as children and pregnant women. They must ensure that their nutritional needs are met during critical stages of growth and development,” Sagar mentioned. 

Embarking on a vegan journey leads to several positive physical changes, such as improved metabolism, enhanced gut health, better skin, hair, and nail health, and an overall boost in immunity. These changes are a result of the nutritional benefits of a well-balanced vegan diet.

However, it’s essential to note that veganism requires careful planning to avoid potential deficiencies, especially in vitamin D and vitamin B12, which are not readily available in vegan foods. Proper supplementation or fortified foods may be necessary.

Choosing a vegan lifestyle is a personal decision, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, and individuals need to adapt their transition to their own capabilities and preferences. Proper planning, education, and a balanced approach are key to success.

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