The number of people going vegan for health and other reasons has skyrocketed in recent years. Statistics show that those not eating animal products has gone up by more than 300 percent in some countries. With so many people trying out “meatless Mondays” and going on month-long juice cleanses, what is there that you should know about going vegan and how do you get on board?

Whole Food Vegan Diets Are High In All Vitamins, Except B12 And D

No diets are high in vitamin D, not even carnivorous ones. Mushrooms contain a bit, and so too does the flesh of animals (they need it just like we do). But it’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from food alone. To get vitamin D, you either need to stand in the sun for 20 minutes a day or take a supplement.

Vitamin B12 is a vitamin produced by bacteria. This bacteria contaminates much of the meat that we eat and so when we eat meat, we also get B12 in our diet. Vegans are believed to not get enough B12 because vegetables are pre-washed, removing the critical bacteria before we eat them.

Both vegans and non-vegans are equally likely to be B12 deficient. So it’s worth while everybody taking a supplement - around 1,000 mcg, twice a week. Low B12 levels are associated with heart disease and premature aging, so make sure you keep your levels high.

Invest In Your Kitchen

Vegan cooking is a little different to what you’re probably used to. You’ll need a blender of some description - a Vitamix 750 is a great option - and not just for smoothies. There are dozens of vegan recipes which require you to blend up ingredients, like cashew nuts, to make sauces and syrups for all your cooking. You’ll also need to invest in things like a rice cooker, garlic crusher (cutting up garlic cloves all the time gets tiring after a while) and a large chopping board.

Eat From The Four Food Groups

What are the four food groups on a vegan diet? The four groups are whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. Each of these groups has particular nutritional qualities, and you should eat from each of them liberally. Beans and greens are high in essential nutrients, like folate, something which is of particular importance to pregnant women. Fruits and some green veggies are very high in vitamin C. And whole grains are high in a type of fiber which helps bulk up your stools and keep your gut healthy.

Don’t Buy Processed Junk

Buying fake meats made from soy might be a necessary transition strategy for those just moving over to a vegan diet, but it shouldn’t become a long term habit. Although processed soy products aren’t a class 1 carcinogen, like processed meats, they still are nowhere near as healthy as whole soy beans - or any other whole plant food for that matter. Too many processed soy products can displace other healthier foods which your body needs to stay slim and fight chronic disease.