- I’ve seen lots of people watch a vegan-friendly documentary or read an article on plant-based diets and go cold turkey (or Tofurky, if you will) giving up all meat, dairy, and egg products immediately. While this ambition and drive is awesome, Ive seen it almost always lead to disappointment and failure to maintain a plant-based diet. I always urge people start slow, and make reasonable goals that will help maintain motivation and long-term success. I started with eliminating meat products, once I grew comfortable with that I began to eliminate dairy products, and lastly eggs. Starting where you’re most comfortable can make the transition smooth and realistic and not seem as daunting or overwhelming. Easing into a whole new way of eating will make going vegan more obtainable and sustainable.
This step is huge and one of the most important parts of becoming, staying, and thriving on a plant-based lifestyle. There is so much incredible research, and studies that backup the power of plant-based eating, knowing just how powerful it can be is helpful when transitioning into this lifestyle as well as sustaining this way of eating. Knowing the power you have on your own health can help you to make consistent and educated food choices. When I say research I don’t mean reading journal reviews, lengthy clinical studies, or even books… it can be as simple as watching some Youtube videos , documentaries (Forks Over Knives, PlantPure Nation, What The Health), or spending a little time on google looking up some questions or doubts you may have.
Knowledge is power!
This tip helped me a lot when I went vegan. Going vegan isn’t a quick way to lose weight or shed some pounds for the summer. It takes a while for your body to adjust and heal itself. So it’s important to trust in your body’s natural ability to detox and start to embrace the plant-based foods that you’re putting in it. Sometimes when going into a new diet or lifestyle it’s easy to overthink everything and assume you’re doing something wrong because you’re not seeing “results” immediately. But healing yourself by going plant-based sometimes takes time. I had to continuously remind myself of all the years I filled my body with fatty animal products so of course it took my body time to heal itself from those years of eating that way. So trust in your body, the incredible healing vegan foods you’re eating, and the process of this thriving lifestyle you’re transitioning into.
It’s so important when making a big change in your life to understand that it takes time and you aren’t perfect. Being patient while I made the transition to going vegan was definitely hard, but looking back it was so worth it. I had to take it one day at a time and trust myself and what I was doing. In the beginning, there was several times that I accidentally (and sometimes purposefully) ate non-vegan food. During these times it was so easy to get down on myself but I just kept reassuring myself that change doesn’t happen over night and that I could learn from these mistakes and make a better decision next time. Keeping my thoughts positive and continuing to self-motivate myself was so important in my journey, especially during the beginning of my transition into plant-based eating. And of course… nobody is perfect, there is no “perfect way” to be vegan, so give yourself a break.
I always encourage people to find [plant-based] dishes or foods they love and stick with them. If you enjoy eating the same exact dinner every night because it’s easy, delicious, and you know it’s vegan then keep eating it! During the beginning stages of turning plant-based I found some specific foods that I loved (and knew were vegan). Continuing to eat these foods kept things simple and made it less stressful when grocery shopping or deciding what types of dinners/meals to make. Finding foods you love is the second part of this tip. It may take some experimenting and bravery trying new foods that you may have never tried before. It never hurts to try something new, so take a small step out of your comfort zone and try some cool vegan foods that you may have never tried before. If you hate it, then that’s fine! You tried something new, and that’s a huge step in your journey.
This may be a little controversial in the nutrition world, but I see no problem in taking a multivitamin especially during someone’s transition into plant-based eating. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they tried going vegan but stopped because they felt malnourished, or tired, or nutrient deficient.. etc.. etc.. Don’t be scared to take a multivitamin the first couple months (or year) you’re going vegan until you feel comfortable in what you’re eating and have more of a handle on your new lifestyle. It takes time to grasp on to a plant-based lifestyle, especially one where you’re eating enough and you’ve replaced (instead of eliminated) meat, dairy, and eggs with
other foods. Although most people following a plant-based diet are exceeding nutrient standards, and a multivitamin is not necessary on a vegan diet it can never hurt to have a little help during your transition. Many Americans are nutrient deficient, especially if they’re eating the Standard American Diet so regardless of a diet shift multivitamins can be of value to almost everyone. B-12 supplementation is not limited to vegans either, vegan or not everyone should keep an eye on their B-12 levels and supplement.
Now this is probably my favorite tip that I can give you and that I give myself on a daily basis. Thanks to the recent “gluten-free, grain-free, low carb, no carb” craze many people are terrified of eating too many carbs. I’m here to tell you that carbs are not scary, dangerous, or even something of concern. Carbohydrates are what your body [especially your brain] needs for fuel & energy. Because your body needs carbs, if you deprive yourself from them you’re body will start screaming at you for more fuel [carbs]. This may result in binge eating, or eating refined carbs that aren’t as good for you, or contain dairy products. So eat pasta, bread, bagels, and as many carbs (that aren’t paired with dairy or eggs) that your body desires.
This tip is very similar to the previous one, but it’s so important I had to re-emphasize the importance of eating! When transitioning to a plant-based diet it’s much different than most “diets” you typically hear about where you’re depriving yourself, restricting calories, monitoring carbs, fats, or calories. A plant-based diet is basically the opposite of all those things… it’s liberating and all about abundance. It’s encouraged to eat as much [plant-based/vegan] foods as you want and to not worry about calories or any “rules”… but to just eat freely. Not eating enough is a mistake many new vegans make, and can increase cravings for non-vegan foods. Because most plant-based foods have fewer calories, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough calories and not letting yourself get too hungry. When you’re leaving the house bring some vegan snacks with you in case you get hungry.
The amazing part about going vegan is that for most people it’s a whole new way of eating and living which can be super exciting. Trying new foods, trying to veganize your favorite animal-based recipes, embracing a compassionate lifestyle, and feeling amazing after eliminating inflammatory foods can be rejuvenating and inspiring. Like I’ve mentioned, going vegan is everything but deprivation, starvation, and stressing about calories… it’s a lifestyle of freedom, joy, and peace with your body. So have fun with it, enjoy eating in abundance, find joy in cooking delicious plant-based foods, and most importantly feel confident in what you’re putting into your body.
When I first went vegetarian, I avoided telling people that I didn’t eat meat. It was mostly out of fear that I’d get laughed at or become an outcast. I soon started getting more comfortable being vegetarian and I wanted to share it with people. I was proud of myself for the changes that I had made and began to own being vegetarian and was excited to share it with whoever would listen. When I decided to go vegan I began being more hesitant about sharing with people that I was vegan. But just as before, after some time went by I embraced my new lifestyle and wanted to share it with everyone! Owning your lifestyle and being proud of yourself can be liberating and motivating to yourself and others. As veganism is becoming more and more socially acceptable and lots of incredible research is coming out to support it’s benefits there is no reason to be shy or embarrassed of choosing to eat vegan. Every time you choose to eat vegan (even if it’s one meal a day, or twice a week) you should be extremely proud of yourself for making a decision that positively impacts your health as well as the health of our environment. Going vegan can change your life, so be proud of your decision to take control of YOU!