So, you wanna be Vegan huh??
If you are reading this odds are you have been considering this for a while but are overwhelmed at the thought of such an extreme shift in your diet. Or maybe you just want to gather more information before even considering.
I decided to begin this transition for health reasons, not animal rights. I have always had an allergy to dairy and I started to recognize that I wasn’t feeling too hot when eating meat. My digestive system has always been a problem for me so anything I can do to feel better I have always been willing to explore. Let me be honest, after watching ‘What the Health’ on Netflix recently my decision was pretty much made.
Transitioning to a Vegan diet is a little scary, I won’t lie. Even with how bad I felt when I ate dairy and meat it is still hard to grasp the concept of giving these things up for good (I love cheese!!). Luckily for us the vegan community is growing and so are the vegan food options on the market. If you have ever thought of giving veganism a try, the time is now more than ever!
Surprisingly, I have found that I enjoy vegan meals more than I ever enjoyed my meals before. This is mostly because I no longer feel sluggish or weighed down after eating. There is also a unique thrill in finding delicious eats that are somewhat guilt free (Hello Cashew Milk Ice Cream!!) Transitioning into a vegan diet will take a lot more preparation that is a fact. With a little prep and an open mind, I think you will find that the journey can be exciting and super rewarding on so many levels.
I want to share with you what I have found to be the 7 best starting points when you are a transitioning vegan like myself:
#1 – Be Honest with Yourself and Your Level of Commitment
I found this to be a key first step in my journey. Like I mentioned before, I had always known I needed to eliminate dairy and reduce my intake of meat. I knew I didn’t feel good and I knew I needed a change but I just was not ready to take the plunge. I would start, fall off the wagon, get discouraged and repeat. It was a vicious cycle and every time I went back to my old eating habits I felt like a failure.
Finally, I realized that the issue was I wasn’t being realistic. It just wasn’t reality to just wake up one day and stop eating everything I love without even having a solid plan. I decided I would focus on giving up red meat and dairy first. I didn’t pressure myself to give up fish or chicken I just focused on the red meat and dairy. I also decided that if I had a slip up I wouldn’t let that erase all my hard work. If I just couldn’t resist that slice of cheese I would eat it but I would challenge myself to do better next time.
By setting more realistic goals for myself and not beating myself up for being human, I found that it became easier and easier to resist temptation. My confidence in myself grew each time I resisted temptation and I was sticking to my goals better than ever before. My advice is take it one day at a time and don’t beat yourself up for back sliding! This is a huge change and any step is a step I the right direction. Get clear on your goal and remember each day is a new day!
#2 – Meal Prep
Take your time with this. Be practical. The number one mistake I made when I started prepping was over doing it. I would get so excited, write down all these recipes, go to the store and spend a fortune just to end up throwing out half of the food. It set me back 10 steps each time I did this because I would get so discouraged. Get excited but make a practical plan for your food, the simpler the better when you are just starting out.
#3 – Learn Fruit and Vegetable Seasons
Know your seasons! This will make all the difference in your love for vegetables and fruit. Purchasing seasonally has so many benefits from the taste to the price. I found this amazing seasonal chart to get started!
#4 – Utilize Your Local Resources
Buy locally whenever possible. This goes hand and hand with knowing your seasons. Explore your local farmer’s markets and grocery stores that carry locally grown produce. Buying from local markets will almost always save you money and the taste is incomparable. I live for a fresh picked tomato, nothing like it!
#5 – Explore Substitutions
This was the most important thing for me. I love cheese and dairy products but that was one of my main reasons for choosing to explore veganism. The thought of having to give up that for good was so depressing! I spent a lot of time exploring vegan substitutes for dairy and surprisingly there are some amazing options, some even better than the real thing. Trust me these days there is a vegan substitute for everything you love, some better than others. Explore on your own and find the ones that you love and recreate your favorite recipes. I will be detailing some of my favorites in another post but here are some of my favorite vegan brands:
#6 – Keep an Open Mind and Use Social Media to Connect
This is a totally new journey. Venture out of your comfort zone with flavors and textures. Vegan cuisine can be amazing, it takes time to learn the things that you like and what will work for you. It’s a process but is well worth it!
Use your social media for no pressure inspiration and guidance. The world of social media has opened so many doors for us and it is amazing!! Follow some popular vegan pages and let the inspiration begin. This is also a great way to effortlessly connect with likeminded individuals, Hey new friends!!
#7 – Give Yourself a Break!
Celebrate your victories! Don’t beat yourself up, ever. We are all human and you can’t be perfect all the time no matter what you do. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for your journey. If you just can’t resist that cheese plate at a party or the bacon wrapped scallop (YUM!!!) at the reception, do you girl! Like I said at the beginning, be realistic with yourself. This is major dietary change and you probably don’t have many people in your immediate circle that are following this lifestyle. As you start to notice the changes in your body and overall health you will gradually eliminate things from your diet and never look back. This takes time. Before you know it, you will be turning down your favorites and not batting an eye. Trust the process and like I said, Do you girl!
I hope these tips have put you a little more at ease with your transition. I know when I got started these were the things that helped tremendously!
What have been some of your biggest struggles starting out? Comment below!