Top 5 Tips for Men to Go Vegan
It’s hip to be vegan! By eating a plant-based diet, you can gain health benefits and even cut your eco-footprint—all in one fell swoop. What was once a rarity has now come full circle—more and more people are interested in eating a plant-based diet, and this diet is here to stay. However, research has shown that veganism is more popular among women then men, and myths abound about the masculinity of meat eating. So, it’s great that more guys are stepping up to the plate, from world-class athletes to celebrities, including Rich Roll, Woody Harrelson, Joaquin Phoenix, Brendan Brazier, and James Cameron. So, if you are thinking of taking on a plant-based lifestyle, it’s ok, you’re in good company. But what’s the first step?
Indeed, going plant-based can be a big change from a highly processed Western-style diet, filled with burgers, sausage, and bacon. The most important thing you need to do is focus on whole minimally processed plant foods to fill your plate. This style of eating is linked with multiple health benefits for men. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that a plant-based diet can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, provide enough energy for endurance athletes, and is a healthy choice for men (and women) at any stage of life. On the other hand, research shows that the typical Western, high-meat diet is linked with higher risk of erectile dysfunction, colorectal cancer, and heart disease, so the plant-based way is a healthy lifestyle, for sure. The good news is that there are so many satisfying, hearty plant-based options in restaurants and supermarkets. And a little social and emotional support can get you through the rough patches, too.
Top 5 Tips for Men on Doing Vegan Right
Check out these top tips to help you get going down the path of healthy, plant-based eating, as stress-free as possible.
1. Find a Community. It’s so much easier when you have social support. Get a friend to take a vegan challenge with you. Sign up for a local plant-based lifestyle meeting—most areas have groups that meet on a regular basis to discuss plant-based eating. Seeing others interested in a plant-based lifestyle can build confidence, while inspiring creativity in your own personal diet.
2. Expand Your Knowledge. Being comfortable with plant-based options can go a long way to making the vegan way of life more comfortable and healthful. From being confident in the kitchen and ordering at a restaurant, to knowing how to shop for new foods and try new recipes, it will make your path much more steady when you prepare yourself. Which brings me to our next tip.
3. Do Your Research. Before you plunge in, learn about how to plan a healthful, balanced vegan diet, which is tailored just for you. Find out what foods you should include at each meal, and supplements that should be part of your diet. Check out my book The Plant-Powered Diet as a great resource, and find a registered dietitian nutritionist skilled in plant-based eating here.
4. Consider Easing into a Vegan Lifestyle. Trying something new always comes with a few questions and bumps in the road. A lifestyle change may be more successful for some people when it is gradual, so don’t become overwhelmed. If you’re not ready to go cold turkey, start with Meatless Monday, and continue adding a few more plant-based meals during the week, then move into a 30-day vegan challenge.
5. Don’t Worry. Your choices are just that, YOUR choices. Whether you’ve gone vegan for health, the environment, or the treatment of animals, be proud that you’ve navigated a not so easy path. Be confident in your decision. Surround yourself with positive thinkers. Enjoy all of the beautiful plant-based foods available to you. And feel well.
Written by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN with Kelly Blackburn, Dietetic Intern
For other tips on eating a healthy, plant-based diet, check out the following:
Image: Jackfruit Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN