Some 542,000 people living in the UK, have now adopted a plant-based diet, according to the Vegan Society. Veganism is now one of Britain’s “fastest growing lifestyle movements” and with many health benefits associated with a balanced plant based diet, it’s no surprise why.  According to Mintel, 8% of UK adults say they avoid gluten as a lifestyle choice. If you are following a gluten free diet and considering making the transition from meat to plants then read on for some top tips from Bodychef Nutritionist - Amie Richmond.

Ask for help!

Ask for help!

Ask for help – having helped people lose weight and get healthier for over a decade www.bodychef.com know what they’re doing! So their dietary experts know that to satisfy your need for good quality carbs and have put together lots of meals with good grains, quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice. All delivered straight to your door. And with tasty pre-prepared selections such as Spinach and Sweet Potato Stew, Green Bean Pilaf with Black Eye Peas and Lentil and Tomato Hotpot – you’re not going to feel like you’re missing out!

You’ll also find loads of colourful and delicious fruits and vegetables that go into making your lunches, dinners and desserts a real delight. Your all-important and valuable protein is gained from a healthy amount of scrumptious nuts seeds and legumes, leaving you with a complete, healthy clean-eating diet plan that’s free from all animal derivatives.

Have a Trial Week and do your research. Start by listing all the vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits and grains you currently enjoy then do some research into new foods you haven’t tried yet. Ever tried guava for example? This fruit has a remarkable nutrition profile, just 28 grams of guava will give you 107% of your recommended vitamin C intake for the day. You will be removing meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey, gelatine, sugar and natural flavourings from your diet. Look at what you currently eat in a week and see what foods you will have to give up so you can be realistic.

Dinner. This is the hardest meal of the day to change so if you currently have the traditional meat and two veg for dinner, try eating out in different restaurants in your trial week for some inspiration. Middle Eastern, Greek, or Asian restaurants have a great array of vegan dishes plus there are now vegan only restaurants and cafes which will also cater for your gluten free choices.

Meet you Calorie Needs. Everyone’s metabolic rate is different but as a rule women require around 2,000 calories a day whilst men need approximately 2,500. This is the number of calories required to maintain your weight but if you are looking to lose weight then be mindful that most vegans actually gain weight in the first year as your body deals with the change to your diet. To make the transition to veganism a bit easier, I suggest opting for a meal delivery service such as Bodychef (www.bodychef.com) who offer a delicious vegan package, with all your meals delivered straight to your door. This is a great introduction to going meat-free and the ‘personalisation’ options allow you to really make the meals work for you. So try it for a week and see how you get on. A sample day can look like this https://www.bodychef.com/sample-menus/vegan-diet/

Keep up your Iron. The biggest worry most people have when switching to a vegan diet is missing out on iron in their diet and becoming anaemic. Even though the iron in plant-based foods are not as well absorbed as the iron in animal foods, vegans usually eat a higher volume of iron-containing foods like chickpeas to compensate. Also, many plant foods naturally contain vitamin C, which aids the absorption of the iron.

Plan your protein. You don’t have to eat red meat to make red blood cells but you do need to fuel your body with all the minerals it needs. There are 24 grams of protein in a 4oz steak but there is also 24 grams of protein in 4oz of black beans so incorporate these alternatives into your meal to reach your recommended intake. The average male requires around 60g of protein per day and females around 50g.

No Dairy. Going vegan means no dairy products so no cheese, butter or yogurt. There are high sources of calcium in spinach and kale and lentils so make sure you replace all the minerals you are removing from your diet. Visit The Vegan Society website www.vegansociety.com for helpful resources on which plant based foods contain the highest mineral levels.

Going Shopping. You will be used to scanning labels for gluten free items on the shelves by looking for the GF ‘cross grain’ symbol on food packaging. Vegan products also have clear labelling so look out for the ‘V’ symbol. Be careful to check that it is vegan not just vegetarian as the symbols to differ between manufacturers and countries of origin. Read ingredient labels carefully. Be very cautious if the product is a new or improved formulation. 

Eating Out. If you are eating from a buffet that is not clearly labelled then go for colour and opt for real whole foods like carrot battons, celery sticks, cucumber slices. Humus is a great dip for you but be mindful of the creamer dips which usually have added yoghurt. Bright coloured foods are normally a safe bet, stay away from anything beige, breaded, fried or battered foods that may contain hidden gluten and meat sources.

Phone A Friend and get support. If you’re going to a party or out for a meal, give your host/ the restaurant plenty of warning that you are now following a vegan diet so you don’t end up stuck or confused. At www.bodychef.com you can call or email any questions you have, get some advice or just some added motivation to avoid any slip ups. Hunger and willpower are not good friends so try not to replace meat with alternatives like high-fat foods or starchy carbohydrates. Avoiding meat won’t keep you healthy if instead you consume high- fat, nutrient-empty, junk foods like chips or crisps.

Making a commitment to become vegan when you already have a restricted diet is a big step. So if you are going ‘gluten free veggie’ this year then we wish you the best of luck in your new health journey


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