I started my vegan journey way before I even began to explore yoga’s ethical standards. It was something I wanted to do for my health, for the environment and for the animals. I had no idea about the different types of diets out there. I just felt that I needed to implement a change in my life to grow as a person and become healthier.
I initially became a pescatarian, really out of not knowing much about the different types of nutrition or vitamins. As anyone else on a standard diet I was concerned that I would not be getting enough protein if I completely remove animal products from my diet.
As time progressed, I started removing food items from my diet, eventually also scrapping cheese. I really thought that removing cheese would be difficult and I would sneak a piece of cheese every now and then. But, I just went cold turkey and cut cheese and yogurt overnight from my diet. Yogurt was a staple in my diet. My breakfast included yogurt, granola and fruits. It was something I ate every single morning. Writing this I realize how boring my diet was when I wasn’t a vegan. I ate the same breakfast every single day. I can’t believe that I thought I would have a hard time being a vegan.
I know that many of you are looking how to best transition to a vegan lifestyle. How do you just start following a diet that appears so drastic?
Today I wanted to share my tips that make the transition less scary and make the journey enjoyable.
Give it time
Like with any habit give yourself at least 30 days to stay on track. Breaking a habit that you have spent your entire life cultivating is hard and requires time and dedication. It’s nothing that you will be able to break in a day and confidently go to the store to buy groceries. You will be shopping in different isles, you will be buying different types of products, you will probably skip half of the store. I’d suggest going to the grocery store when you have time, like a weekend or a day off. This way you have enough time to browse vegetables and fruits, exploring grains, legumes and nuts.
Preplan your meals
One of the easiest steps to success is to. know what you are cooking in advance. I don’t mean meal-prep. I am actually not a big fan of meal prep as I like to eat fresh. Smelling fresh herbs and vegetables and fruits gives me an extra boost. What I mean is write down a list of the meals you are looking to cook that week. Then write a list of ingredients you will need to prepare those. This way you walk into the store with confidence, you know what you want to get, what you need and probably also prices of the items. Initially look up some youtube videos or vegan pictures on IG to get inspired. Vegan meals don’t take very long to cook since there is no meal fiber that needs to soften.
Avoid faux meat or cheese products
I think the biggest mistake that we all make is trying to recreate a meal we would love with a pseudo meat product, like vegan chopped meat or vegan bacon. There are two reasons why I wouldn’t recommend reaching for those items in the first 30 days. The flavor of the pseudo meat is not the same as the real meat. You will end up disappointed and might think that ” all vegan dishes” taste wrong. Your taste palette is still used to what you know from eating meat or cheese all your life, so anything that tastes slightly different will be disappointing. Instead, think how you can easily change a recipe to make it vegan and delicious. For example, vegan lasagna can turn into a tasty veggie version simply by changing meat for mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes. Another reason I would steer clear from vegan meat is the amount of extra ingredients that the manufacturer had to add to make the durian fruit or soy or some other ingredient taste like meat.
Experiment and try new things
I think that there is a misconception that vegan food is boring and blend. Not the case! I love cooking with different types of herbs, like parsley, cilantro, fresh oregano, green onions, mint and the list goes on. Along with lots of spices to make the food taste delicious. I have also expended on the number of vegetables I now enjoy. For example I used to hate brussels sprouts. as kid I dreaded dinner if they were present. I didn’t like the spell, the texture, they were just the most awful vegetable under the sun. But, being vegan I totally changed my attitude towards food. I tried roasting them one day and they came out tasting so good that this is now a staple of my diet. I especially enjoy them when they are in season with mint sprinkled on top, with some rice and avocado. Delicious!
Do some research
When you first start on the vegan diet you will want to explore different dishes. Take some time to watch youtube videos to explore options and get ideas what you can make outside of salads. One of the feedbacks I always get when someone starts vegan lifestyle is that they always eat the same thing. With a little time and research exploring alternatives to your favorite meats you will see that becoming a vegan is really not that difficult.
I would also stay away from any items that are prepared. Steer towards the fresh produce isle. As time progresses you will know which veggies are less expensive, because they are in season. For example, the before mentioned Brussels have a September – March season. This is when they tend to be more affordable. Also, check out your local farmer’s markets. I find that the produce I purchase there doesn’t spoil so quickly and tastes way better than the items I buy at the grocery store.
Check out stores, such as Trader Joe’s or your local coop. Also, explore online sales at Amazon and Thrive where you can purchase grains at a discounted rate.
So here you have it five simple steps to dive into the vegan diet. Give yourself a full month, explore recipes, stores and dishes. DO some research where you can purchase your vegetables at a discounted rate and stay away from the vegan meat and cheese options in the first 30 days to get used to eating fresh and healthy food dishes.
Are you a vegan? How did you transition to a vegan lifestyle?
OR if you are not a vegan what questions do you have about the vegan diet? Let me know in the comments section.