A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to follow a vegan diet. The idea of wanting to better my health and the planet stuck with me but the transition was much more challenging than I had thought. There were many times that I ‘slipped up’, which made it discouraging to continue. My relationship with food was unhealthy as I recognized that I often felt guilty. As well, growing up in a family that consumed animal products on a daily did not help either. After the strenuous journey of moving toward a vegan diet, I learned plenty along the way. Transitioning into a vegan diet can be intimidating to approach, so here are a few tips that I found helpful:
1. Do Your Research
Before the transition, you should spend time looking into veganism and what it entails. Expanding your knowledge on a subject that is new to you wouldn’t hurt, as it may put you at ease. You will get a better understanding of the diet, which makes it a more comfortable encounter. To me, going vegan is almost like preparing for an exam. If you don’t study and have no concept of the subject, you have a higher chance of failing, which never feels good. Some books that I recommend are The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, and The Skeptical Vegan: My Journey from Notorious Meat Eater to Tofu-Munching Vegan by Eric C.Lindstrom.
2. Take Your Time
One mistake I made was attempting to go vegan overnight. For some people, this was very effective and is an exhilarating one of a kind experience, but that wasn’t the case for me. I was overwhelmed by what I could and could not consume, and had unhealthy food cravings that were hard to ignore. I was lacking in certain vitamins and nutrients so I began to lose excitement and motivation.
It is important to take your time. Everyone transitions at a different pace and attempts at the diet differently. As mentioned, some people can decide to go vegan, follow the diet, and they never have to look back. For others, including myself, I had to make small changes along the way that would eventually lead to eating vegan. First, I gave up dairy products as it was the easiest for me, and continued to eliminate most animal meats. Eventually, I was able to eliminate fish which was tough due to my love for sushi. Luckily there are vegan sushi options that were able to satisfy me. Overall, it is important to remember that the smallest changes can make a big impact.
3. Follow A Diet That Works For You
A unique aspect of the vegan diet is there are many versions of it. The approaches are endless and depending on your lifestyle and dietary needs, you should follow one that you find the most logical and easy. Below are some more common vegan diets:
High Carb Low Fat- primarily eating carbs. Consists of fruits and vegetables, cooked carbs (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc), beans, and nuts.
Whole Foods- consumes unprocessed (and often organic) foods. Consists of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Usually avoids gluten and soy products as well.
Raw- eats all (or most) raw foods. Consists of raw fruits and vegetables, raw nuts and nut butters, and dehydrated goods.
Junk Food- focuses on ethical reasonings of veganism rather than health. Consists of vegan alternatives to non-vegan junk foods like plant-based milk ice cream, dairy-free cheese pizza, meatless burgers, and the list goes on.
4. Remind Yourself Of Why You Went Vegan
At the start of the transition, your motivation and passion towards veganism are apparent but that can certainly dwindle down. It can be easy to get sidetracked and start up old habits again, so constant inspiration is important. I would remind myself of why I went vegan by watching documentaries on plant-based diets and its effects whenever I felt hindered. Stay inspired by trying out new vegan recipes, following vegan social media influencers, and finding like-minded people.