Are you curious about a vegan lifestyle or plant-based diet?
Are you scared it will be too hard to make the transition?
You’ve come to the right place!
Here are some tips for success to embrace living a compassionate lifestyle.
1) Don’t go cold-turkey.
This is setting yourself up to fail. While possibly a controversial tip, I am a realist when it comes to life changes. I believe trying to overhaul your entire life in 24 hours will make the transition to veganism more unattainable and difficult than it should be. Many people going vegan come from years of animal consumption in their diet and lifestyle. It is unrealistic to change everything you’ve ever known about the way you live in one night.
2) Do your research!
If there is nothing else you take from this quick start guide, let it be this! Do. Your. Homework. Learn what you are changing your beliefs to and why. There is nothing more intimidating or discouraging than saying you’re vegan but not being able to answer the questions that follow from defensive carnivores. Read nutrition books, watch documentaries, subscribe to vegan youtube channels, follow your favorite blogs…hint, hint 🙂 Absorb as much information as you can because people will question you about your new belief system. Knowledge is power, give yourself a fighting chance by educating youself.
*Sidenote: You do not owe an explaination to ANYONE about your lifestyle choices, especially when it means less harm to others and the environment. However, you may often find yourself in a position to help others understand and educate them on a vegan lifestyle. Besides, who can stand a poorly educated know-it-all?
3) Plan ahead!
Most people eat in auto-pilot. As a vegan, you can’t do that, well, not at first anyway. You can’t just grab any sandwich from the deli, drive-thru, or wherever. Your meals will take more planning at first. I started doing meal prep for my week in advance so I had my meals ready to go. Now, I usually do two or three days in advance. For me, the only time I really fell short in my vegan transition was when I didn’t meal prep, plan ahead or look up a resturant’s menu before going there. Always keep snacks with you so you will never have an excuse to be tempted due to a starving appetite or convenience. Soon enough, planning ahead and knowing your options will become second nature.
4) Join a vegan group
A sense of community is so helpful when you have questions. Join a vegan group either online or in real life. People share what they ordered at resturants, where they like to grocery shop and provide general support. Chances are you won’t have many vegan friends in real life starting out so online groups are a great way to form your vegan gang and have that sense of friendship with other like-minded people. You can also check sites like meetup or google search your area for groups as another way to find events where you can meet other vegans.
5) Compassion first
Remember those know-it-alls that I was talking about earlier? Well, sometimes you just have to let their snarky comments slide and remember that compassion is a big part of the lifestyle… for all beings. This includes the snarky know-it-alls but also, yourself. If you accidentally eat something with animal products, find out an item changed it’s ingredients and is no longer vegan, or forgot to ask for no butter, etc. It’s okay! Remember for the next time. My motto: when you know better, do better. Progress not perfection. Always be kind, first and foremost.
6) Eat a lot… and often
Calorie restriction is something that never crosses my mind on a plant-based diet. Eating whole foods means few restrictions with lots and lots of food! Many people don’t eat enough after going vegan because they are use to restrictive fad diets. No more! Gobble up all those veggies, fruits and legumes! I eat a lot each day, all day long but it’s okay because I am eating a lot of the good stuff, not junk! I used the Cronometer app to track my nutrients and meals at first to ensure I was getting everything my body needed.
7) Listen to Cravings
I know what you’re thinking… cravings are bad, right? NO!
This is a big one for people worried about not being able to resist cravings on a plant-based diet.
Can I be frank with you? Your body is smarter than you!
You have cravings because your body is trying to tell you what it needs, not to make you miserable. Our tastebuds have been reformed to believe craving the taste of chocolate means we want a chocolate bar. We are so far removed from our food we don’t even know what is in a chocolate bar to know what a specific craving means. Craving chocolate might actually mean you need more magnesium. Craving salt? You might have adrenal fatigue and need electrolytes. Don’t deprive your body just because you think a craving represents a guilty pleasure, it usually means you’re missing out on nutrients! Find a plant-based food that fits your craving and use it as nourishment, not a source of guilt.
8) Keep it Simple
Do not feel obligated to rush out and buy all the ingredients that are in a 20-step recipe just because the recipe is vegan. What’s great about a plant-based diet is that plants are simple and therefore, your diet can remain simple. In fact, it’s the best way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to experiment with vegan recipes and more exotic ingredients but it doesn’t have to be the first thing you do. Ease into it and keep it simple!