Wanna Go Vegan, but Not Sure Where to Start?
By: Alia Savage
Ahh...veganism. Some say it’s a fad, others it’s a lifestyle, and for many, it’s a path to healthy living. It’s also, of course, a major lifestyle adjustment that doesn’t always come easy. Habits take time to break. And as someone who’s recently attempted veganism, resetting my palate and resisting the urge to go back to my animal-eating ways has been a challenge, but I’ve pushed through. It is totally doable, and millions of people around the world live plant-based, and so can you.
Here’s what has helped me.
Consult With Your Doctor
Even though veganism has positive effects on the health of most people, animals (of course), and the environment, unfortunately, not everyone cannot sustain their health on a vegan diet. Some people have medical issues which prevent a vegan diet from benefiting them, long term, most likely due to the medication they have to take. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor before you make any big lifestyle changes, so they can guide you based on what your body needs.
Take Your Time
If your doctor has signed off on you going full vegan, congratulations!
The next step is the part where you actually give up meat, and dairy, and attempt the vegan lifestyle. But don’t dive in head first. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you try to go from eating meat three times a day, then eating absolutely no meat, ever, you will go mad. It has nothing to do with meat being superior, either; it's because the body rejects change.
I started out by slowly altering my diet. During the first two weeks of my journey, I swapped out one meat/dairy-filled meal a day for a vegan one. By the end of the first month, I was only eating meat once a week. Three months later, all meat and dairy have been eradicated from my diet. I don’t even use cream in my coffee anymore.
Start With What You Know
If you eat anything nearing a balanced diet, you already incorporate vegetables into your everyday life. Start with the vegetables you already consume and enjoy, whether that’s kale, corn, spinach, tomatoes...whatever.
During those weak moments when you might be doubting whether or not you can resist that burger that your dad just made, having veggies on hand that you already know you like will make things easier.
Don’t Deprive Yourself
For some reason, most people assume that you can’t indulge in snack food on a vegan diet, but that’s not true! Many of your favorite snacks are already vegan. French fries, potato chips, and yes, even Oreos!
Personally, I go for tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole when I’m in the need for a salty treat. Like anything else on the less healthy end of the spectrum, these treats should be eaten in moderation, but if you stick with your vegan diet, you’ll have more than earned the right to indulge.
Have Fun Exploring
If you're like me, you probably crave variety in your diet. I didn't eat chicken every night when I still at meat. And now that I'm vegan, I don't eat veggie burgers every night either. Just last night, I had homemade black bean burritos with fresh avocado. For lunch today, I had the leftovers and fixings over brown rice. And tonight, I'm having spicy pumpkin chili from a local restaurant. Yum!
Of course, it took me a few months of experimenting to find dishes that satisfied me just as much as meat used to, but trying new things has been part of the fun! (Even that awful, awful, awful vegan cheese.)
Overall, your vegan experience will be shaped by three things: the attitude you have going into it, your ability to keep yourself stocked with a variety of delicious vegan food, and most importantly, the forethought to know that veganism goes well beyond your personal eating preferences.
By eating foods that have a kinder impact on the environment, as well as our furry friends, we're saying that we care about all living, breathing things that inhabit our earth!