Hello, friends. I thought I would start off on the right foot and give you a few helpful tips on how to go about eating vegan. Afterall, that is why you are here, right? You are curious or wanting to do better for your health, for the animals, and for the environment. But to note first, adopting a vegan, whole food, low fat, plant based diet will reap the optimal health benefits. Eating the colors of the rainbow with your fruits and vegetables, your dark leafy greens, grains, legumes will not only put you at the perfect weight for your body, but it has been scientifically proven to actually reverse most diseases in the body as well as prevent them. I will surely dive in to this more at another time, but to start, there are several steps or mindsets that you can take to make the transition easier.
Here we go!
Tip 1 - Be kind to yourself
While I think that eating vegan really isn't as hard as most people assume, you are more than likely going to make a few mistakes here and there. Afterall, this is new territory, so it is important to know this right off the bat. With that said, go in knowing that mistakes are going to happen, and that's okay. If it does, do not stress over it. Accept it and move forward.
Maybe you ate something that you didn't mean to, or bought a chocolate bar that contains dairy - whatever the case might be, it doesn't matter. In fact, it was just a few months ago that I was out spending the day with my mom and was wanting a snack. I was craving something crunchy. While we were out shopping, I spotted a bag of these snack chips that I had eaten before that I really liked and they were labeled as vegan. When we got to the car and I opened the bag and started to eat them, I instantly knew that they tasted different. It turns out that it was the same brand, and they looked similar, but it was a totally different chip. What did I do? I gave them to my mom! There was nothing else I could do but just move on. It happened. Put a period behind it, learn from it, and move on. It's building up consistency, getting in to the habit of shopping for new foods, and learing that is going to make you successful. And so mistakes are pretty much inevitable and part of the learning curve.
Tip 2 - Go at your own pace
This isn't a race, and we are all at different places as far as our eating and lifestyle is concerned. No need to compare yourself to someone who has been vegan for 25 years, or to someone who has been vegetarian for ten years or two months. You are where you are in the present, so start with where you are right now, with what you have. And pass no judgement on to others either. It's taking an initial step, which will lead you to the next step, and then the next. You have the control over you, and it is not a competition. Choose to eliminate all animal products all at once and go cold turkey, or take it in small steps, such as going dairy free first, and then saying NO to all meat products. It is up to you on how you want to tackle these steps.
Tip 3 - Buy what you will eat
Sounds logical, right? But I personally have been there before where I would buy something thinking that I would eat it, but never ended up doing so. I've been in that trap before thinking that I should eat something simply because it's good for me, or think that I will eat something, but to no avail. And it just sits there and sits there, and sits there. If you don't eat passion fruit, then don't buy it. If you won't eat that jackfruit that everybody has been talking about, the don't buy it. If by chance you think you're not going to eat it, then you probably won't. So don't waste your money, save it, and buy food that you know that you will eat or know that you already like. Get a good base with the foods that you are familiar with and already like to eat. Once you've got that pegged, then do a little experimenting with other foods and fruits that you haven't had before if you desire.
Tip 4 - Read labels
Reading labels is going to be the new norm for you, and once you know what you are looking for, it will be a breeze. Not knowing what is in your food can be detrimental to your health, so once you know how to read the labels on the food that you are considering buying, you are good to go. It will be like riding a bike and it will be a habit to read that panel on the package. In no time you will be throwing things in your reusable bag and you can be confident in your food choices. As always though, it is best to stay with whole foods, plant based, and unprocessed. But in those times where your food will be in a package, reading the label will be key to avoiding unwanted ingredients.
Tip 5 - You can "veganize" anything
If you have been making certain recipes or creating certain dishes with traditional ingredients like meat, dairy, and eggs - there will always be a veganized version out there to be found. So don't worry. And while the new vegan version of your recipes, like say macaroni and cheese, lasagna, or pizza, won't taste exactly like your old recipe, you will appreciate the new delicious dishes that you are making that are actually healthier for you. This transition period will also be about adjusting your tastebuds, so while the food won't taste exactly what you are used to, you are developing your tastes to these new flavors. In no time, you will begin to savor these flavors. Although I will have some easy, beginner frendly recipes here for you to try, keep in mind that there are plenty of vegan cookbooks available, and also you will find vegan recipes on the internet. Good places to visit include Youtube and Pinterest and type in your search word beginning with "vegan."
I hope these five tips have proven to be a little insightful and will be useful to you while making your vegan transition. I think that two of the biggest misconceptions about going vegan is that it is expensive and that it is really hard. It really isn't as hard as one might think, so keep these tips in mind. I will touch on the expensive myth in another upcoming blog. Don't forget that I am here for you, so let me know if you have any questions or a topic that you want me to discuss. Have a great weekend.
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For Five MORE tips - for Part 2