I know what you're already thinking - going vegan is impossible...And you might be asking yourself, "why am I here?," or "is this really something I can do?" The answer to this question is yes, absolutely, and I am going to explain to you why becoming vegan is 100% possible (and even recommended for most) You'll hear many vegans proclaim that eating this way is effortless and in abundance...AND I'll be honest...it is! However, I won't sugar coat it for you, because even though I love living and eating this way, it can be utterly challenging to change your lifestyle and/or habits. But if there's one thing I know for certain, the difficult things in life are the most rewarding.
NOW. All you have to do is stop eating animals and their by-products and focus on vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts & seeds. Easy right? Wrong. Trust me I get it - I've been there! You're probably feeling overwhelmed just reading this blog post right now, but you know what?...You're doing great, so stay with me. Believe it or not, but almost every brand and/or product you use contains some kind of animal flesh or animal by-product as one of its ingredients. In addition to artificial flavors and preservatives... but that's a different topic for a different day. Whether it's animal flesh itself, or a by-product, such as gelatin, dairy, or eggs, it's everywhere, and maybe even in your granola bars. But let me tell you something, there are so many products in your local grocery store that you've been overlooking! These products have either always been around, or they've been popping-up on your store shelves in recent years...and I'm thrilled to share these products with you. Trust me when I say, you have so much to look forward to!
Like with any bad habit the hardest part is acknowledging the habit, and second, implementing new strategies to rid yourself of said habit. The best way to start when going vegan? Preparation. I can't stress it enough - when it comes to your diet and lifestyle choices, being prepared is crucial. Otherwise you will find yourself making poor food choices. And sure, slip-up's happen, but let's be realistic here...if you're trying to go vegan, it's important to stock up on some fruits and vegetables... Cuz let me tell you, if you come home hungry to an empty refrigerator, I promise you 9 times out 10 you are not going to make a healthy, informed choice. I've been vegan for 4 years now and this still happens to me from time to time! Remember... we're not perfect, and if nachos are your thing, I totally get it. Bottom line, veganism is about making informed food choices, a food choice that focuses on your health and longevity, in addition to your morals and values. So here's the hard part: It will take around 12 weeks, sometimes more or less, for your body to withdraw from all the years eating meat, dairy, and eggs. Your taste buds will change, I kid you not...but fear not, this is all for the better. Vegans have substantially lower death rates than meat-eaters, more energy, better immune systems and even better sex drives. If you do this vegan thing the right way, your life is about to change.
How to start? Go easy on yourself and start small. Consider replacing one of your three meals in a day to a vegan meal. Whether that's making oatmeal with almond milk, or pancakes and waffles using a vegan egg substitute. If you want to switch things up with your lunch, consider a vegetable sandwich (add hummus instead of mayo), or maybe a warm grain bowl is more you thing. The possibilities are truly endless - it just takes time to figure out what you like. Becoming vegan doesn't require a degree or rocket science. It requires dedication, preparedness, and flexibility. You might be asking yourself how difficult will this transition be...on my body and my mind? One of the most common questions I get asked is, "will I become more gassy?" The simple answer to this question is sure. However there is a reason behind this, and again, it's for the better. When you switch from a low fiber diet, to a high fiber diet it takes time for your gut to colonize all this new bacteria that aids in digestions. Over time, a few weeks or months, your body will adjust to this higher intake of fiber and you'll experience less gas and bloating...and some pretty amazing poops. Sorry, but someone had to say it! In eating vegan, you'll find yourself eating more food than you ever have before. Some people look at me like I'm crazy when I say this, but it's true! The reason for this is, when you eat nutritionally-dense food, the calorie content is often lower. So eating more and eating enough is absolutely critical when transitioning to a plant-based, vegan lifestyle.
Now you're probably thinking, will I ever eat a burger, hot dog, grilled cheese, or piece of sushi ever again?...Have no fear! You can have all of these things (and more!) Plant-based, vegant meats are hugely popular right now, brands such as Beyond Meat offer an array of vegan meat products, which are made of pea protein. Check them out - they are worth trying! Other vegan meat brands include Field Roast, Tofurky, Hilary's and so on. That said, these products are great in helping you transition from meat and dairy. Furthermore, there are millions, if not billions of dollars going into this dairy-free industry...and not because it's the "hip thing to do," but because the alternatives are so damn tasty (and healthy!) Companies that are doing a kick-ass job include Kite Hill, Miyoko's Kitchen, Follow Your Heart, Chao, Heidi Ho, Ripple, Earth Balance and so many others. It's not just your typical"cheese," it's yogurt, sour cream, artisan cheese, butter, ice cream, sauces and oh my gosh...cream cheese...in plain, chive, and jalapeno flavors! All of which are made from REAL, wholesome ingredients! No hormones, antibiotics, animal flesh or animal by-products.
So, you've got options, right? But, it still doesn't make this whole eating and cooking vegan thing that much easier. What about the meat and dairy cravings that you'll have? I have a simple remedy for this; recognize WHAT is meat and WHAT is dairy?... Are you actually craving a burger or are you craving fat, or maybe it's protein you need? Are you craving ice cream or are you craving sugar? When these "cravings" occur, put aside your emotional and habitual response... Would an avocado or some vegan cheese satisfy this fat craving? What about a black bean burger to satisfy your protein needs? And, how about a piece of dark chocolate or even some vegan ice cream to cure you of your sugar craving?...Sure, sure, the non-dairy ice cream is still not the "healthiest choice," but remember, it's a start and it's progress.
Becoming vegan comes down to trial - and - error and having the right support. Like in most blog posts, I could list an array of meal ideas for you, but it doesn't change the confusion and fear you might still be sitting with. Email me, comment on this page, tell me what your lifestyle is like, what kinds of foods you enjoy, and let's chat about all things vegan! Utilize the vegan community, ask us questions, and lean on us for support! Find the right people to support you; develop your own tribe. Remember, being vegan isn't about being perfect - it's about making informed food choices and doing the best we can in whatever situation we find ourselves. If you find yourself on a deserted island with no fruits or vegetables, please do whatever it takes to survive...This is a safe place with zero judgement.
What's the hardest hurdle for you to overcome? What's your greatest fear in making this lifestyle change? Whatever it may be, I'm here to help, this is what I love to do; I seriously live for this! Leave a comment, email me, or shoot me a message via the Contact page.
This is an exciting time for you and your health, thank you for letting me apart of your journey.
Stay tuned, upcoming blog posts: Vegan Protein, My Vegan Kitchen, My Favorite Vegan Products