Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Four steps to guide your vegan diet

<p>Produce is pictured March 3, 2021, at Target. </p>

Produce is pictured March 3, 2021, at Target.

Grammy-winner Ariana Grande declared her love for animals and the desire for improved health as the reasons she decided to go full-on vegan in 2013. The purely plant-based vegan diet — no eggs, dairy or meat products — has garnered interest in a wider audience. 

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

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If you are interested in starting a vegan diet but not sure where to start, here are four simple steps to guide you:

1. Get to know veganism first

IU student Casey Cotner is a vegan, and her journey started two years ago. She recommended for vegan newcomers to do research and watch documentaries about veganism. 

“It’s important to become educated in why you’re going vegan and the benefits of going vegan,” Cotner said.

2. Take small steps to start your diet 

IU student Kaitlyn Petrow is a seven-year vegan. For those just starting a vegan diet, she suggests committing to one vegan meal a week, and once you're used to that, make it a daily habit. 

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

Cotner said she was a vegetarian for four years before becoming a full vegan. If you find a vegan diet difficult, give vegetarianism a go because it isn’t as restrictive as veganism. Vegetarians can still consume eggs, dairy and honey. 

3. Test your cooking skills

“Give cooking a try,” Petrow said. “Try new recipes.” 

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

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Shannon Livengood, Boys and Girls Clubs of America coordinator, said she would look at recipes from magazines. She has adhered to vegan foods since June 2020. Magazines such as Veg World Magazine or The Vegan Magazine provide vegan recipes and lifestyle advice.

“It is definitely hard, especially if someone who loves food as much as I do,” Livengood said. “There’s so many food that I love.” 

4. Don’t restrict yourself to only vegan food

Livengood said it’s all right to not restrain yourself from a variety of food and to eat what you love. 

“There are days when we crave a chocolate chip cookie and they are not totally vegan,” Livengood said. “Sometimes I eat those, and that helped me just have a little bit of something that I enjoy.” 

Remember that when you’re doing this diet, you’re doing it for yourself, your own health and your beliefs. There is no perfect vegan diet, but you can build habits from your everyday actions.

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