With movements like #veganuary and an increasing community of plant based foodies, it can be exciting and intimidating if you’re wanting to test the waters yourself. Whether you’ve been dipping your toes for a while or you’re brand new to the lifestyle, there is A LOT of information and even more schools of thought on how/why/when/what—when ditching animal products. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to put together some tips and tricks to make the transition a bit easier! When I began experimenting with more whole foods/plant based foods nearly 7 years ago, there was not a lot of easily accessible information. Pinterest wasn’t really on the/my radar just yet and I didn’t know one single person who was vegan to ask questions to. I was also starting grad school and didn’t have a ton of extra time for research outside of papers on the intersectionality of race/class/gender and the cycle of poverty (#socialworkerforlife).
I should note right away that I am NOT a medical professional so before drastically changing your diet you should consult your doctor to make sure it is safe to do so. I also want to note that although I am a huge proponent of the plant based lifestyle, it is largely because it works so well for my life and my body. I have had a lifetime of digestion issues and after finally being fed up with not feeling well I began eliminating certain things and here I am. I feel the best I’ve ever felt and will never go back to eating animal products. That is MY journey and it is what works for ME. Whether you are here for animal welfare reasons, health or environmental motivations-that is all up to you! Do what works for you and makes you feel great! Going plant-based for a even just a short time may end up just encouraging you and your family to eat veggies more regularly or teach you new ways to snack in a healthier way!
I tend to be long-winded so take what you will and forget the rest but I hope this list provides some helpful information on your journey to your best self in 2019!
This one comes as no surprise, right? If you follow me on social media or have been reading my blog you know that I am a BIG proponent of meal planning. Plain and simple you will have SO much more success if you prepare for the week ahead. You will be less likely to give up on your goals if you have already planned, shopped, and prepared your meals and snacks. Sit down once/week and plan out what you want to cook and eat for the week. There are a million ways to do this! Check out cookbooks at the library, search Pinterest or old-fashioned google, check out your favorite bloggers and search within their site if you’re in the mood for something specific! There are also a ton of pre-made meal plans out there in the world wide web! Including right here, here, here, and here! You might also find some helpful tips here, where I talk about the essential things I keep in my pantry at ALL times! Also-because I am a stay-at-home mom I have the luxury of being home and the ability to prep dinner and snacks throughout the day. If you are a busy working man or woman/mom or dad you may not have that luxury and spending a couple of hours on the weekend might be helpful for you to get your meals ready for the week. If this is you I STRONGLY suggest you check out Ashley’s Website/Instagram. Ashley is a registered dietitian nutritionist who has very helpful videos and posts about meal prepping for the entire week. So you spend a little bit one day prepping and ALL your meals are ready to go for the entire week!
As annoying and time-sucking as it can be, social media CAN be rather useful! One of my favorite things to do is check out what some of my favorite accounts are cooking up for ideas or specific recipes. A lot of times folks will include a recipe right in the post which can be super helpful! Another tip is to search hashtags. If you’re looking for specific dietary needs, for example, search things like #glutenfreevegan #oilfree #sugarfree and different variations of “vegan” like #plantbased #crueltyfree or #wholefoodsplantbased. Remember not to compare what you’re meal looks like to the picture you see. I’m the most amateur you can get at food photography but I do know it takes many shots, staging, and time to get those pictures to look so pretty! It doesn’t have to look good, it just has to taste good!
Who do you know that has already taken steps to cut out animal products? It doesn’t have to be someone who is completely vegan. If you have been a lifelong meat eater-TAKE IT SLOWLY. In fact that should be a tip on it’s own! Start by cutting out the big things one at time. In my experience, most people have the most difficult time giving up cheese. As a cheese lover myself, I get it. BUT I’ve found really delicious substitutions and recipes to help suffice those cravings. And that has come with literally years of experimenting and trying out different recipes and ingredients. SO ASK ME! Or ask your friend who is a vegetarian or send a DM to that one person you follow and admire all of their posts. See the thing is, you’re going to have your own sort of style and taste. You may love trying out all the faux meat and cheese substitutions-they have come a long way! Or you may prefer to keep things a little bit less processed. Or a mixture of the two! You do you!
Do you have a standing date with your parents at the local steakhouse every weekend? Do you have a monthly wine and cheese girls night? Uh-oh the Superbowl is coming up! Listen, the social aspect of this lifestyle can sometimes be the hardest part. Suggest a new restaurant to go to with your parents. Research vegan cheeses or find other plant based finger foods to pair with your favorite vino. And there are SO MANY vegan Superbowl recipes that you will LOVE-I promise. Again, it’s important to be prepared. Know what events you have coming up that may tempt you to go off-track. Or even plan to go off-track! I know that sounds crazy and many would disagree with me but if you are new to the plant-based lifestyle the last thing you want is to get completely frustrated or give up because of one perceived “slip-up”. You know yourself and your relationship with food better than anybody else-so make sure you are respecting that. And that brings me to my final and probably most important tip…
This is a big one, y’all! Especially if this is brand new for you, you can expect some challenges, slip-ups, and frustration. It is inevitable and THAT IS OKAY. Be patient with yourself. If the end goal is to eliminate all animal products from your diet, don’t expect it to happen in one week. If you decide to go out to eat with a friend knowing you won’t be able to find a plant-based meal on the menu-that is okay. You still need to maintain relationships and your mental health so this needs to be done in your own time, in your own way. Don’t get sucked into to the “all or nothing” vegan community. The goal of “veganism” is to cause the least harm as possible, in my opinion. If you make a choice to stop drinking cow’s milk first-guess what? You are decreasing harm and taking a first step at eliminating animal products. Most people were not born and raised vegan so they had to start somewhere, just like you! It can get pretty nasty if you aren’t viewed as doing this for the right reasons. But HEAR ME NOW: The right reason is YOUR reason. Go ahead and unfollow any accounts that might make you feel like you’re not doing enough or doing it right. There is no such thing, friend! Whether it be for your health, the animals, or the environment, it is your reason and your reason alone.