Transitioning to a plant-based diet
“You’re vegan? So what do you eat?”
I get asked this question all. the. time. It used to annoy me, but now I know that people just need more information and education on veganism. My personal journey with health has been constantly evolving and changing. It changes as I gain a better understanding of my body, how it functions, and of what I put in it. I did not grow up in a vegan or vegetarian household. Plant-based was not even a term in my house.
I come from a Latin background and nobody ever thought twice about eating carne asada, beans with lard, or meals with heavy cream. So how did I start following a plant-based lifestyle? Well, my sophomore year of high school, I took a class about health and nutrition, and in this class I was introduced to vegetarianism. It’s safe to say that this class opened my eyes and made me become conscious of the food I was eating.
So, if you are not vegan, or vegetarian, or are trying to slowly make the transition, I want to give you some tips of how I did it! It really is not as hard as people think. People will probably still freak out when they learn that “you don’t eat meat”, but eating plant-based changed my life and I know it will change yours too.
Tip # 1 Learn:
If you have absolutely no idea what veganism or vegetarianism is, take the time to learn. You can start by learning about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, and how to nourish your body correctly on a plant-based diet. I recommend you watch documentaries, read blogs, or follow Instagram/Facebook accounts related to veganism.
Tip # 2 Find out why:
This is probably the most important in my opinion and will get you through the days where you just want to eat a tub of ice cream. Figure out why you want to transition? Maybe you want to feel better? Maybe your health isn’t good and you want to improve it? Maybe you are low energy? Maybe you care about the environment? Think about it, write it down, and hold onto your reason why.
Tip # 3 Add to your diet before you subtract:
Before you start taking out all the dairy and meat products, start by incorporating more beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, legumes, etc. Get familiar with how to prepare the food, and find new recipes that appeal to you. Find quick and easy vegan meals to make that don’t take too much time and that you enjoy making. The easiest switch out could be replacing milk with a non-dairy alternative. Continue slowly switching out non-dairy products with dairy products.
Tip # 4 Plan your transition:
If you are a full on meat eater, I think it is a good idea to transition into vegetarianism and then veganism. You will feel less overwhelmed and more prepared to begin a vegan lifestyle. Start by removing meat from your diet, fish, poultry, etc. and focus on lowering your dairy/egg consumption. You can find more plant-based protein instead. Continue incorporating whole grains, nuts, beans, etc. and once you feel ready you can take out dairy and eggs.
There are a lot more tips I could share, but I think this is a good place to start. Most importantly, stay positive and remember why you want this change. Your health is so valuable and what you eat truly makes a difference.