Making the decision to go vegan isn’t as daunting as you think, and with so many options now available to consumers both in diet and lifestyle, the switch to vegan is easy and much more common than ever before.

We had a chat to Greg McFarlane, Director of Vegan Australia to find out the in’s and out’s of going vegan.

Q: What research should be done first?

A: If you are sure in your reason for becoming vegan, you will have the motivation to overcome any difficulties. Learn the simple rules of healthy vegan eating. Make sure your diet is rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds, eating as much variety as possible. If you feel you need to see a health professional, contact a vegan nutritionist. They will be in the best position to help ensure your new vegan diet is healthy.

Q: What about protein?

A: Vegans get plenty of protein without having to pay particular attention to their diets. The truth is that protein exists in every food we eat and we can easily get protein by eating a wide variety of whole plant foods.

Q: What about mock meats?

A: For some people, the transition to a plant-based diet is easier if they replace animal meats with “mock meats”. There are a large variety of these, including canned mince, mock chicken strips, “facon”, TVP (textured vegetable protein) and gluten-based meats. While many of these are simple vegetable-based products, some are highly processed and so should be used sparingly.

Q: Is it just diet that needs to change?

A: Veganism is about respect for animals, whether they are used in the food industry or in other industries. This means we should try to stop using items that contain animal products or where animals suffered in the production process. Some products are unnecessarily tested on animals and so look for products that are labelled “not tested on animals” or “cruelty free”. As a health conscious society we think before we eat, and not just about how many calories or grams of sugar we are about to consume, but about what our food is doing to the environment.

As educated eaters the motivation behind a vegan diet is specific to the individual and while concern for animals is the foundation of veganism, there are many other benefits. Plant based agriculture is a more efficient use of the world’s scarce resources and can feed more people. It is better for the environment and a vegan diet is good for our health.