The History of Sports in the United States

Sports have been a big part of American culture for many years. Professional sports like baseball, basketball, football, and hockey have become massive industries and the economic center of many cities. Sports are also a big part of growing up in this country since these sports and others are prominent in youth leagues, high schools and colleges. The popularity of sports is a big part of the history of the United States.
Baseball is considered America’s national pastime. Major league baseball is a central part of American sports and attracts more fans and sells more tickets than any other professional sport in the world. It is believed to have been developed based on sports like rounders and cricket. For many years most fans believed that Abner Doubleday created the first set of baseball rules, but others suggest the first official set of rules was created by Alexander Cartwright of the New York Knickerbockers. The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first official professional baseball team, and soon there were several different leagues. The American and National Leagues are the major leagues today. There are also hundreds of minor and independent leagues. In the 1920’s, a more precise set of rules was created which made the sport more organized and less physical. Until 1946, African-American players were not allowed in the major leagues, but today the sport is played by athletes of different ethnicities from countries around the world.
The sport of basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith, a Canadian-born physical education instructor at the YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1891. While teaching at the YMCA, Naismith wanted to give his students something active to do while inside on a rainy day. After many ideas, he eventually came up with the sport by hanging a peach basket from the elevated running track, 10 feet above the gymnasium floor. The game evolved over the years from Naismith’s original rules. Many more rules and new equipment helped to perfect the game. Eventually professional teams and leagues were developed. The sport also became quite popular on playgrounds, especially in thickly settled urban areas. Today, the National Basketball Association, or NBA, is one of the most popular sport leagues in the world.
In the 1870s rugby was becoming a favorite sport played by college athletes in the United States. In 1876, Walter Camp developed a new sport based on rugby and called it football. In the 1890s the sport gained interest and started to become a professional sport. The Allegheny Athletic Association was the first completely professional team and played a short two-game season against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. In 1902, baseball’s Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies formed professional football teams, along with the Pittsburgh Stars, and formed the first professional football league, the National Football League. Through the years the rules and scoring of the sport changed several times. The American Football League, or AFL, was also formed in 1960 as an alternative league considered by some to be inferior to the NFL. But in 1970 the two merged with the AFL teams becoming the American Football Conference, or AFC, and the NFL teams becoming the National Football Conference, or NFC, The top team from each conference would compete yearly in the Super Bowl for the NFL championship. Today the NFL, is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world, and the Super Bowl is one of television’s most watched events.
The sport of hockey, considered by many to have been invented in Canada after a game called “shinny,” has history dating back to the late 1800s. A similar sport, originally called “ice polo,” was already being played on American college ice rinks. Ice hockey started to become more popular, and professional leagues started popping up in the United States, the first being the International Professional Hockey League with teams from Pennsylvania and Michigan. In 1910, the National Hockey League, or NHL, was created in Canada. It was called the National Hockey Association until 1917, and later expanded to include American teams in 1924.

Types of Vigorous Exercise

When you’re trying to determine exactly how much exercise you should get every week for optimal health, you’ll likely come across the terms “moderate” and “vigorous” in relation to the intensity at which you work out. If your workout time is at a premium, using vigorous-intensity exercises can help you get results quickly. Before you can start to break a sweat, however, it’s important to familiarize yourself with what constitutes a vigorous exercise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vigorous-paced exercise is one that burns more than 7 calories per minute. Moderate-paced exercises, meanwhile, burn only 3.5 to 7 calories per minute. Both forms of exercise can be useful as you attempt to improve your health. If you’re unsure of the level at which you’re exercising, try to talk. If you can’t say more than a small group of words without pausing to breathe, you’re exercising vigorously.
Many people use jogging as a way to keep fit or shed some weight. The CDC reports that jogging — or speed walking — at a pace of at least 5 mph is defined as a vigorous exercise. Backpacking and walking up a hill at a brisk pace also fit the definition of vigorous exercise. Other vigorous-paced outdoor exercises include biking at a speed of at least 10 mph, inline skating briskly, swimming laps and whitewater kayaking.
Calisthenics and other exercises that you perform at home or at the gym can meet the definition of vigorous exercise, provided you take the correct approach. For calisthenics, perform such activities as pushups, crunches and pullups at a rapid pace. Jumping rope also provides a vigorous workout. At the gym, quickly alternate weight training with calisthenics or cardio exercises to create a vigorous circuit-training routine. Exercise machines, including the rowing machine and stair climber, can provide a vigorous workout if you maintain a fast pace.
A wide range of team and individual competitive sports meet the description of vigorous exercise. The CDC reports that such team sports as football, basketball, soccer, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and water polo provide a vigorous workout. A number of individual sports, including squash, tennis, ice skating, cross-country skiing, wrestling and boxing are vigorous in nature. Downhill skiing can also be vigorous, provided you do so at a rapid tempo.

Effective Communication in Sports

A team filled with the best players in the league who communicates poorly will flounder in mediocrity, while a team filled with run-of-the-mill players who communicates flawlessly will be contenders every year. Effective communication in sports is an absolute essential trait that quality teams must have to be successful, from the coaches, to team leaders, all the way down to the role players. Everybody must be on the same page.
Everyone has a unique personality type. This personality type can be identified by taking a Myers-Briggs personality test, which was developed based on theories put forth by Carl Jung in his 1921 book “Psychological Types.” One player may naturally feel motivated after a disciplinary action, while another may naturally feel shunned and demotivated. Every individual on the team, regardless of their role, has to be understood on a motivational level, and all communication from there on must be based on their personality type. A quarterback may need to communicate differently to each of the 10 people on his offense.
Off the field is when players and teams get better, not on an execution level, but on a camaraderie level. Often, it’s in the locker room that you learn the most about your teammates. Talking about past experiences, things you like to do during downtime and family history can help you understand that person better. That way, you know what things to say, and what not to say, when trying to motivate them on the field. Many professional players have problems retiring, not because they miss playing the game on the field, but because they miss the time spent with their teammates between games.
Unlike off the field communication, effective communication on the field varies considerably from sport to sport. For example, in football there is constant communication going on. From coaches calling plays into the players on the field, to players making adjustments and calling out blocking schemes; however, in baseball communication is minimal at best. In fact, most players on the field are acting purely on their training and instinct after the bat makes contact with the ball.
According to the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, 70 percent of human communication is non-verbal. In some sports, this number is even higher. Many times hand signals and a series of signs are used to indicate what a player is supposed to do on the field. Thus, making sure that every player has memorized every possible signal, and ensuring that the signals are complicated and varied enough so that other team can’t pick up on them easily, are extremely important aspects to effectively communicating during sports.
Great teams are not formed overnight. Sometimes it takes years of players molding together to form a solid bond of communication, verbal and non-verbal, before the team can communicate and execute seamlessly on the field. To help expedite the process, coaches often arrange for a portion of every practice to be solely dedicated to communication. For example, in football it’s standard for practice to include positional breakouts in practice, allowing quarterbacks and receivers to practice hot routes and audibles together with and without words.

Touch Football Rules for Kids

From the schoolyard to backyard, kids are throwing around the pigskin and chasing one another in their version of a sport that is several parts football and one part tag. Touch football has few rules, and virtually every game can be played differently than the next.
Before the opening kickoff, decide whether you are playing a game of one-hand or two-hand touch football. The ball carrier is down when he is touched with one or two hands above the waist and below the shoulders. This keeps players on their feet, and any contact with the ball carrier’s head is avoided. In any case of contact to the head, the ball carrier should be ruled down but a penalty assessed to the defense.
Develop a system of counting that the defense must audibly recite after the snap before they rush the quarterback. ¡°Apples,¡± ¡°one-thousands¡± and ¡°Mississippis¡± are popular counting devices. As long as the unit of counting contains more than one syllable and it is consistent for both teams, it¡¯s fair game. One kid from the defense may rush the quarterback after the countdown is completed. Some kids might eliminate the rush all together from their games.
The rules for first downs are about as technical as touch football gets. Organized leagues designate a specific landmark for downs. Some games involve zones, where teams get a first down when they move to the next zone. You could also use some sort of marker, like a small cone, to mark the line of scrimmage and the line to cross for a first down. If the field and the players are very small, agree on a set amount of plays to reach the end zone. When the first team doesn’t make it, or does, the other team gets its turn.
Most touch football games are played on grounds without field goal posts. For that reason, extra points are essentially an extra down from a specified distance, like two-point conversions in traditional football. Teams are rewarded one point for scoring from a close distance, and two points for scoring from farther out. You could also forgo the point-after situation entirely and just keep score by keeping track of how many touchdowns each team has scored, or award seven points for every touchdown.

What Happens If You Get a Red Card in Soccer?

When the referee reaches into his pocket after a foul, players wait, fearing that they may see the dreaded red card. The red card signals that a player has committed one of the most serious offenses in the game or that he has received two cautionary yellow cards during the game already. If you receive a red card there will be serious consequences for you and your team.
A red card is used to signal what is known as a “sending off offense.” This means that if you receive a red card while you are a player on the field, you will be sent off and cannot return to the game, nor can you stay on the sidelines. According to the rules you must leave the vicinity of the field and the technical area — the area surrounding the team’s bench.
If you are sent off as a player on the field, you cannot be replaced by a substitute. This means that your team must play shorthanded — assuming that your opponent fields a full squad. This can be problematic if your team is already playing shorthanded. A team must have at least seven player to play. If you are sent off from the field when your team only has seven players, then the game is abandoned.
If your red card offense stops play then your team will be penalized at the restart of play. The opposing team will receive a direct free kick. On a direct free kick the kicker can score directly without any other player needing to touch it — as opposed to an indirect free kick which must touch a second player before a goal can be scored. If you commit a red card offense in the penalty area in front of your own net the opposing team will be granted a penalty kick.
Substitutes can also be shown a red card and sent off if they commit a serious offense. Players can also be carded before the opening kickoff, during the halftime break and even after the game has ended until the referee leaves the field of play. If a player is sent off when he’s already off the field he must leave the field area and cannot return. Because the player is already off the field it will not affect the number of players on the field.

Gender Discrimination in Sports

Gender discrimination in the athletics industry has long been a controversial topic ¡ª?even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, said in 1896, ¡°No matter how toughened a sportswoman may be, her organism is not cut out to sustain certain shocks.¡± Since then, gender equality in sports has come a long way, including UNESCO recognizing sports and physical activity as a human right in 1978.
Statistics show that female sports do not carry the same weight as male sports. According to the Women¡¯s Sports Foundation, male athletes get $179 million more in athletic scholarships each year than females do. Additionally, collegiate institutions spend just 24 percent of their athletic operating budgets on female sports, as well as just 16 percent of recruiting budgets and 33 percent of scholarship budgets on female athletes.
Passed in 1972, Title IX was a landmark piece of legislations that banned sexual discrimination in all schools, including in athletics. It applies to all state and local agencies that receive education funds, which includes school districts, colleges, universities, libraries and museums. It focuses on giving women equal opportunities in the athletic arena to those of men. In terms of intercollegiate athletics, three categories are used in determining whether a school is complying with Title IX, according to the University of Iowa: athletic financial assistance, interest and abilities accommodations and other program areas. Compliance is determined on a program-wide basis, not by particular sports.
Research supports the notion that there is less value placed on women¡¯s sports. This leads to unequal wages and coverage when compared to men¡¯s sports. Although approximately 40 percent of sport and physical activity participants are women, only 6 to 8 percent of total media sports coverage is devoted to their athletics, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. Additionally, in a study of four major newspapers–USA Today, the Boston Globe, the Orange County Register and the Dallas Morning news–women-only sports stories totaled just 3.5 percent of all sports stories. Women¡¯s sports also tend to be verbally and visually set apart, such as in the name of the Women¡¯s National Basketball Association (WNBA). In men¡¯s sports, gender is almost never mentioned.
Under the Office of Civil Rights, anyone–male or female–who believes he or she has been discriminated against based on gender at an institution that receives United States Department of Education funds can file a complaint under Title IX. The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination, in the state in which it occurred. A complaint letter has to include who was discriminated against, by whom or which institution, how the complainant was discriminated against, when the discrimination took place and the complainant¡¯s contact information. Unless required to divulge information by law, the OCR will keep the complainant¡¯s identity confidential.
Multiple committees have been formed to improve gender equality in athletics. In 1995, the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, with the goal of providing policy recommendations on women, gender equality and sport. It called for accessible sports facilities at all educational institutions, establishment of gender-sensitive programs at educational, workplace and community institutions and equal opportunities for women to participate in athletics on the same basis as men. In stark contrast to the Olympics¡¯ founding father¡¯s remarks in 1896, the International Olympic Committee requested in 1994 that the Olympic Charter be amended to include a reference to progressing action on women and sports. The current charter, which was adopted in 2004, states that one of the committee¡¯s roles is to encourage and support the promotion of women in sport, as well as to give equal weight to men and women.

Why Do Volleyball Players Wear Spandex?

William G. Morgan invented volleyball, which he originally called mintonette, when he combined elements of basketball, baseball, handball and tennis. The YMCA, of which Morgan was a graduate and instructor, is largely responsible for taking the sport international, and Volleyball.org reports that today there are nearly 800 million players worldwide who play volleyball at least once a week. Wearing spandex is one of the sport’s latest advances.
In a high-energy sport such as volleyball, where the actions have names like “attack,” “spike” and “joust,” ensuring that players are ready to execute aggressive moves is essential. Players are required to jump, stretch and dive during a game, and making sure clothing does not hinder any of these processes is key. Wearing spandex allows volleyball players to concentrate solely on the game instead of worrying about adjusting clothing, hindrances in movement and a more complete range of motion.
According to Chemical and Engineering News, DuPont scientist Joseph C. Shivers invented spandex in 1959. While it remains uncertain when exactly volleyball players began to integrate the fiber into their uniforms, it is known that by the 1970s cyclists had discarded their old uniforms for the innovative new material.
The chemical makeup of spandex allows it to be soft but durable at the same time. Chemical and Engineering News further reports that spandex fibers allow it to stretch up to 600 percent and return to its original shape. This is ideal for volleyball players who are constantly reaching, jumping and diving during games. The form-fitting quality not only provides privacy for athletes, but also does not break down from exposure to body oils, perspiration or sunscreen.
Beyond the feel and durability of spandex garments, wearing them during sport keeps you comfortable. Spandex clothing is light and can wick away the sweat from your skin, which keeps you relatively dry and limits the risk of chafing, which can be distracting during your game of volleyball.

The Best Yoga for Athletes

With its focus on flexibility, coordination and balance, yoga can be an extremely beneficial addition to any athlete¡¯s workout routine. Yoga not only trains and strengthens the body, but also sharpen an athlete¡¯s concentration and focus. With so many different types of yoga available, there is no simple or easy list of the best yoga poses or practices for athletes.
Generally, athletes from any sport can handle the damands and reap the benefits of the two most common types of yoga: Hatha and Vinyasa. Ashtanga yoga helps to improve balance and stretch the back muscles, making it beneficial for runners and cyclists. On the other hand, Iyengar yoga focuses on body alignment and precise, rigid movements, making it ideal for tennis players and golfers. Bikram yoga follows a specific series of 26 yoga poses performed in a room heated at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Bikram yoga can provide an excellent and effective stretch for nearly all the body¡¯s muscles, since heat helps the body relax. However, this type of yoga is extremely intense, and athletes should be cautious of overtraining or overexerting the body.
When done regularly, yoga can offer a wide variety of physical and mental benefits for athletes. Physically, yoga can help increase flexibility, improve balance and strengthen the core muscles. Since most athletes work the same muscle groups excessively, they often experience physical imbalances. For example, basketball players can execute movements perfectly while perched on the balls of their feet. However, once they are asked to maintain a flat-footed position, the movements become more difficult. Yoga helps restore balance to the body, which relieves stress and tension on muscles and joints. Regular yoga practice also helps to prevent injuries and accelerate recovery. Mentally, yoga helps improve an athlete¡¯s concentration and focus during practices and games. In fact, many athletes who practice yoga regularly are able to stay focused and relaxed even during high-intensity games.
Although most athletes are in peak physical condition, the physical demands of yoga may still be overwhelming. The “Yoga Journal” website likens an athlete to ¡°a guitar string that you tighten up and tighten up to get the highest possible resonance. But then you just turn it the tiniest bit and it explodes.¡± Before attempting difficult yoga postures, athletes should first focus on mastering the basic poses. Avoid injury by warming the body up with gentle stretches and focused breathing.
During the Chicago Bulls¡¯ 1997-1998 preseason training camp, the basketball players had scheduled yoga workouts every day after regular practice. Their yoga instructor¡¯s goal was to not only improve their physical capabilities, but also achieve a more relaxed mental state. According to the “Yoga Journal,” the instructor¡¯s hard work seemed to pay off. After losing the first game of the championship series that year, Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls seemed relatively unconcerned. When asked about his calm demeanor, he responded, ¡°I just decided to use a little bit of Zen Buddhism and relax; instead of being frustrated, I just smiled, channeled my thoughts and let the game flow.¡±

Eating Habits of Offensive Linemen

The offensive line in football consists of the five players who protect the quarterback and open holes for running backs. These positions include the center, the left guard, the left tackle, the right guard and the right tackle. On average, offensive linemen are the biggest players on the football field, and require a large amount of food to meet their daily nutritional needs.
According to team rosters available on the NFL’s official website, the average weight of an offensive lineman was 314-1/2 lbs. in 2010. College players are slightly smaller, averaging 297.5 lbs. per lineman. The average professional lineman is 28 years old and stands just over 6-feet-4. Because of his extremely active lifestyle, this player must consume 5,275 calories every day just to maintain his weight, which is more than double the daily caloric needs of the average adult man.
There’s a common misconception that offensive linemen eat whatever and whenever they want. That’s not true. Just like any other athlete, a lineman needs to eat energy-providing, healthful foods as the foundation for his diet, not an endless number of hamburgers and french fries. Football players, regardless of their position or size, aim to be quick and agile. The key to maintaining these physical skills is to add lean muscle mass to their frames. Lean proteins such as poultry and fish, healthful fats such as skim milk and cheese and a diet rich in fruits and veggies of all kinds help to build lean muscle mass while adding minimal body fat. Avoid fatty foods, especially red meats and trans fats, which provide minimal nutrition and maximum fat.
In order to properly store and use the calories they consume, offensive linemen need to eat small meals frequently. Former University of South Florida center Jake Griffin told the “Sarasota Herald-Tribune” in a 2008 article that he benefited from eating six to seven small meals a day. He said he found that eating larger meals less often caused his body to store fat, rather than burn it.
Trying to consume enough calories every day, while focusing on consuming nutrient-rich foods, is difficult for most offensive lineman. That’s why so many linemen must supplement their diets. Supplementing not only requires taking daily vitamins to ensure that you have enough vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and potassium, but it also includes drinking high-calorie shakes that have additional protein. The protein is crucial because it’s the building block for strong muscles.

Is Going Vegan a Healthy Option for Me?

If you¡¯re considering swapping the meat and cheese in your diet for veggie burgers and broccoli, you¡¯re far from alone. Nearly 23 million Americans consume vegetarian-inclined diets, according to a 2012 study by the Vegetarian Research Group, and more than 7 million people call themselves vegetarians. One million more have taken it an extra step and gone vegan — nixing all foods (and household goods) derived from animals.
The vegan lifestyle appealed to me because of the triple punch it provides — It’s great for my health, promotes compassion for all animals, and does not put as much of a burden on our planet’s precious resources as does a meat-centric diet.
– Dina Aronson, vegan registered dietitian in Montclair, New Jersey
While variety and balance are pillars of a healthy diet, emphasizing particularly nutritious items can go a long way toward ensuring that your wellness needs are met.
1. Dark, leafy greens. Whether cooked or raw, leafy greens are packed with bone-supporting nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamin K. “Surprisingly, eaten in large enough quantity, they also provide small but significant amounts of protein and omega-3 fats,” said registered dietitian Dina Aronson of Montclair, New Jersey. “They also have a ton of fiber and antioxidants.”
2. Legumes. Beans, lentils and split peas are podded vegetables in a class of their own due to their rich protein, fiber and antioxidant content. Gaithersburg, Maryland-based physician Dr. Michael Greger calls legumes “protein superstars of the plant kingdom.”
3. Berries. Top fruit sources for fiber, berries — like most colorful produce — provide antioxidants that boost the immune system. Most Americans fall below their daily fruit requirement, which is a minimum of 2 cups, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
4. Nuts and seeds. Significant sources of healthy fats and antioxidants, such as vitamin E, nuts and seeds also contain protein, fiber and carbohydrates. Aronson recommends emphasizing varieties high in omega-3 fats, such as flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Omega-3 fats can reduce inflammation and promote positive brain function and heart health.
5. Bell peppers, carrots and tomatoes. These foods are as nutritious as they are colorful, according to Greger. Routinely consuming vegetables and fruits of various colors helps ensure that you reap a broad range of nutrients, as each provides its own blend.
6. Quinoa. The seed produced by quinoa is a significant source of protein and is rich in fiber. It also supplies all essential amino acids — building blocks of lean tissue that support brain function — and enhances blood sugar and appetite control.
Unlike vegetarians, who typically consume some amount of animal-derived products — such as cow’s milk, eggs or honey — and who may utilize animal-derived goods, including leather, beeswax and certain household cleaners, vegans use none of those products. What does that leave? Plants.
¡°The vegan lifestyle appealed to me because of the triple punch it provides,” said longtime vegan Dina Aronson, a registered dietitian in Montclair, New Jersey. “It’s great for my health, promotes compassion for all animals, and does not put as much of a burden on our planet’s precious resources as does a meat-centric diet.¡±
The ¡°triple punch¡± referenced by Aronson, co-author of “Minerals from Plant Foods: Strategies for Maximizing Nutrition,” encompasses the primary motivators behind the plant-based regimen: Objection to the killing and consumption of animals based on the belief that such practices are not required for human survival, and disapproval of the treatment of factory-farmed animals, which are commonly caged in tiny, unclean spaces.
You may also desire a smaller ecological footprint. A study conducted at the University of Chicago in 2006 showed that an animal-heavy diet generates 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person annually than a vegan diet, which also utilizes less water and land than animal food production.
The potential benefits of veganism are wide-ranging. Research published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2009 linked plant-based diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, a reduced risk for type-2 diabetes, leaner body mass and — when compared to diets consisting of animal products — overall reduced risks for cancer and chronic disease.

¡°Only one diet has ever been shown to reverse heart disease, opening up arteries without drugs, without surgery,¡± said Dr. Michael Greger, a Gaithersburg, Maryland-based general practitioner who specializes in clinical nutrition. ¡°Only vegan diets have been shown to reverse the number one killer of men and women in the United States.¡±
A healthy vegan diet provides rich amounts of vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting antioxidants and fiber — an indigestible carbohydrate that promotes satiation, blood sugar control, digestive wellness and heart health. One cup of cooked beans or lentils provides about 15 to 16 grams of fiber, fulfilling approximately half of many adults¡¯ recommended daily requirement of 25 to 38 grams. By contrast, a grilled chicken sandwich on bread made with enriched flour provides less than one gram of fiber.
Most plants are also naturally cholesterol-free and virtually devoid of artery-clogging saturated fat. Beans and lentils, for example, are rich in protein and have no saturated fat and cholesterol, making them ideal vegan staples, according to Greger.
As with any lifestyle, a poorly planned vegan diet can lack important nutrients. Eating mainly white rice, mixed vegetables and vegan ice cream, for example, does not provide the high protein obtained from legumes and the calcium available in green leafy vegetables, such as kale.
¡°A healthful vegan diet is based primarily on vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains,¡± said Aronson. ¡°Foods like vegan energy bars, soy hot dogs and vegan coconut ice cream all have their place, but as with any diet, special occasion foods should be enjoyed in moderation.¡±
Vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are relatively low-calorie, yet filling. Poorly planned vegan diets therefore may lack calories and nutrients, particularly if you eat 100 percent raw foods, says Aronson.
A lack of calories and nutrients can create complications such as fatigue, headaches, foggy thinking, and a slowed metabolism. If you have difficulty meeting your nutrient needs solely from food — which is the best source of nutrients, according to the Mayo Clinic — discuss the potential need for dietary supplements with your doctor or dietitian.
¡°Another challenge arises when folks forget that plant-based foods are meant to be savored, embraced, and experimented with,¡± said Aronson. ¡°A vegan diet is a joy, not a punishment, and should include delicious, flavorful cuisine. The idea that a vegan diet consists of a pile of plain steamed vegetables alongside boiled beans alongside brown rice is simply not reality.¡±
There is not just one right way to become vegan nor a single right length of time for the transition required. If you¡¯re currently eating a meat- or dairy-dense diet, however, taking gradual steps toward veganism may help ease the process. Start by eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as unprocessed grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal.
For protein, begin substituting coconut milk for cow¡¯s milk, and organic tofu, lentils or beans for fish, chicken and beef. The convenience of prepared vegan meals, such as frozen dinners and soups, can also help ease the transition.
Once you become more comfortable with a vegan diet, preparing your own meals can save money while enhancing your enjoyment and understanding of the cuisine.
¡°Most people only have about ten or so main meals that they cycle through,” said Greger, “So I find it’s a matter of recognizing the plant-based dishes people already enjoy, finding ways to tweak current favorites and then exploring some of the exciting new cuisines and tastes out there.”
If you enjoy beef burritos, try bean burritos. Rather than enriched pasta with meatballs, top whole-grain pasta with marinara sauce and diced tofu. Keep your pantry well-stocked with vegan staples, such as seeds, nut butters, beans, rice and vegan breads and cereals. For sweet treats, try vegan smoothies or fresh fruit. To satisfy salt cravings, enjoy air-popped popcorn, kale chips, or almonds.
Remember to ask for help if you need it. Guidance from a registered dietitian who specializes in plant-based nutrition, Aronson says, can help ensure a successful conversion.