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What you need to know if you decide to abandon animal products


Source: RBC Style

More and more people are partially or completely switching to plant nutrition: in the name of ecology, for their own health or out of compassion for animals. "RBK Style" Tells What New Adherents to the Vegan Diet Should Take Care of

Photo: Shutterstock

Take care of yourself

A vegan or plant-based diet involves a complete rejection of animal products - all types of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products. Perhaps the first and most important thing to remember when switching to this type of food is that you don’t have to give up everything at once. If you can't live without salmon or scrambled egg steaks in the morning, try flexetarianism, a flexible diet with a conscious reduction in animal foods in your diet. For starters, you can follow one simple rule - for example, arrange vegan Mondays or daily vegan dinners. You can switch to a soft vegetarian diet when milk and eggs remain in the diet, and gradually reduce their number in the diet.

When it comes to nutrition, gradual small changes in the diet work disproportionately better than drastic measures. The more comfortable the transition to a vegetable diet passes, the higher the chances that it will firmly enter your life.

Eat balanced

According to statistics, vegans live longer than carnivores: a plant-based diet significantly reduces the risk of death from cardiovascular diseases (according to various sources, from 29 to 42%), serves as a preventive measure for the development of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes, and reduces the risk of developing some oncological diseases, arthritis, dementia, and kidney dysfunction. But veganism has its risks and pitfalls. Any diet should be balanced, especially if it involves the complete rejection of a huge group of products.

Whatever type of food you follow, doctors recommend keeping the proportions of a “healthy plate” in your daily diet: half of the diet is vegetables and fruits, a quarter are whole grains, and another quarter are proteins. We can get the fats necessary for the body from vegetable oil, nuts and seeds, avocados and legumes. But the proteins should be monitored separately. Vegans can suffer from their shortage, but not because complete protein cannot be obtained from plant foods (this is just a myth), but because of the imbalance of products.

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Track protein

A protein consists of amino acids - they serve as the building material of the body. There are 8 essential amino acids that we can only get from food. Animal products contain all 8 pieces, but plants do not. Therefore, vegans need to competently combine dishes to get a complete set of amino acids. The good news is that this is pretty easy. The main thing is to always combine vegetables and fruits with other groups of products: legumes, cereals, nuts or seeds. That is, a simple vegetable salad most likely does not provide all amino acids. Sprinkle it with nuts or seeds. And ideally, add cereals - for example, quinoa or bulgur. Or corny eat it with a piece of whole grain bread.

Most vegetable protein is found in legumes (beans, chickpeas, edamame beans, tofu and other soy products), lentils, nuts, green vegetables and cereals. Gluten is nothing but vegetable protein, which is rich in wheat and oat products. So oatmeal with nuts and berries for breakfast is more than a full vegan dish.


Today in large cities of Russia there are more and more vegan options. In supermarkets you can find wheat and soy sausages, almond and oat milk, coconut yogurt and soy cheese. Many cafes and restaurants introduce completely plant-based dishes into the menu, an American meat substitute Beyond Meat has taken a separate niche. Nevertheless, vegans still need to make extra efforts to stay on their diets.

You should be prepared to carefully read product labels in supermarkets (you can often find rennet in pesto, egg white in cookies, lactose in chips) and plan your shopping list in advance. Some products can still be bought only in specialized stores - they do not always sell tofu, canned chickpeas and meat substitutes. Separately, it is worth exploring the cafe menu next to home and work and watching the opening of new food outlets.

Many plant-based alternatives to familiar dishes can be prepared from scratch on their own - recipes can be found on vegan cooking blogs. Curry, pasta, sauté and woks, oat pancakes, pies and granola, vegetable spreads, nut pastes, cashew cheese and other seemingly exotic but really simple dishes are especially popular among plant-based food supporters.

Remember vitamins and minerals

Plants have a huge amount of nutrients, but some vitamins and minerals remain in short supply. For example, we obtain vitamin B12, which is critical for health, from animal products. You can find B12-enriched vegan products - vegetable milk, cereals, pastes, but in natural form this vitamin is almost not present in plants. This does not mean that vegans need to take B12 as a dietary supplement, but it is worth monitoring its level in the body, and in case of deficiency consult a specialist and choose a dosage with your doctor.

Supporters of a plant-based diet should also monitor vitamin D levels, omega-3 acids, iron, and iodine. Omega-3 can be obtained from seeds and nuts, iodine - from iodized salt and sea kale, iron - from legumes and dark green vegetables.

Do not lean on junkfood

The Vegan badge on a product does not automatically make it useful. For example, in Oreo cookies there are no animal products, but they can hardly be considered a healthy snack. The same goes for potato chips, vegan jerks (smoked snacks similar to pieces of meat), high-sugar prepared breakfasts, energy drinks, crackers, and sweet syrups like Hershey's. All of these foods are vegan, but in large quantities can be harmful.

Many types of biscuits and ready-made (industrial) baking products do not contain milk and eggs, but in their composition you can find trans fats harmful to the body - they usually hide under the name "partially hydrogenated oil". Vegan semi-finished products - sausages, sausages, meatballs - are also difficult to call useful. Usually they contain quite a lot of salt and food additives to create the effect of a "meat" taste. It is not necessary to completely abandon them, but it is better to limit consumption, as is the case with real meat semi-finished products.

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Get ready for questions

Adherence to some kind of food system is of interest to others. It doesn’t matter if you give up gluten, whether you practice interval fasting or follow a plant-based diet - you will be asked questions. The most popular - why and why. It happens that people express their opinion about such a nutrition plan, ask provocative questions (“aren't you sorry for the plants?”), Make assumptions about the benefits and harms, provide statistics and broadcast the views of popular bloggers. It should be treated philosophically and with kindness - everyone has their own ideas and ideals, we all believe in something and blame something. The beauty is that our intentions are wholly and entirely dependent only on ourselves. A colleague’s caustic comment or friend’s joke about herbalism can affect you only if you yourself let this happen. Of course, frank and aggressive negativity should be stopped. But if your loved ones are ironic about your diet, let them stay with their opinions - and periodically prepare delicious vegan dishes for them. Perhaps one day they will become your like-minded people.

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