Why skipping the butcher may be the best thing you can do for your health
While you may have heard about those non-meat eaters known as vegetarians, there is an extreme sect of them called vegans, or those who not only skip the meat, but also avoid dairy, eggs, and anything that’s derived from—or even processed using—animals or animal products.
With celebrities like Ellen DeGeneris, Portia De Rossi, Carrie Underwood, Lea Michele, and Jenna Dewan Tatum all purporting the health benefits of going vegan, the practice has become more popular than ever. Alanis Morisette credits the diet with helping her shed 20 pounds, and actresses Olivia Wilde and Alicia Silverstone both dedicate their blogs to the practice. Silverstone even penned a book about it, once saying “[it’s] the single best thing I’ve done in my life. I’m so much happier and more confident.”
Interested in trying it? We went to an expert nutritionist to find out five ways to ease into veganism—and determine whether this lifestyle choice is really for you.
“Go through and make a list of all the reasons you want to adopt this type of diet,” says Elizabeth DeRobertis, Director of The Nutrition Center at Scarsdale Medical Group in Scarsdale, New York, and founder of weight management product HungerShield. “This will help you to determine if it is something you are committed to doing, because it will take some effort to do this,” she says. “It will also help you to be able to respond to those who question your food choice, so you will feel well versed with your response.”
“It takes a lot of time and effort to check every label and find out those food products that might not comply with your new diet,” DeRobertis says. “You’ll need to get used to reading the labels on everything and learn how to navigate ingredient statements, so you can identify which ingredients are vegan and which may have hidden animal products.”
Also, you may want to check with your doctor first. “It’s also important to take a look at your medical history and family medical history, as vegan diets are often rich in soy. If you have had a personal history of breast cancer or atypical cells, too much soy may be detrimental as it acts as an estrogen replacement,” she says.
Once you identify a few recipes you like and can make regularly, it’ll be easier to grocery shop too.