Monday, July 10, 2017

HOW TO GO VEGAN AND STICK WITH IT: 11 EASY STEPS


11 EASY STEPS TO GO VEGAN AND STICK WITH IT--- with this simple beginner's guide, you'll be on your way to a healthier, more compassionate lifestyle in no time. | caileypearl.blogspot.com


Venturing into the world of veganism can seem like a daunting journey, one filled with strict dietary rules and an uninviting amount of tofu. It can seem especially frightening if you're making the change alone, but don’t worry- I’m here to tell you that the switch to veganism is so much easier (and enjoyable) than you may think. Before diving into the top 11 tips guaranteed to give you success and fulfillment on your vegan journey, there are three important things you should always keep in mind:

  1. No matter what you may hear, veganism is in no way, shape, or form about being perfect. How far you decide to go in this lifestyle is completely up to you- don't let a label or other people become the dictators of your decisions. Whether you become fully vegan, vegetarian, or even just have one meatless day, you are still making a difference.


  1. Go at a pace that feels best to you. Although some people are able to switch to veganism overnight, most of us need more time, and that’s okay. You may choose to start out as a vegetarian and then make the transition into veganism, or maybe you want to take it even slower by just eliminating one food at a time. You know what works best for you, and should never feel pressured to go at a speed that you don’t feel comfortable with.


  1. As your body rids itself of old toxins, hormones, bacteria, and other harmful things found in most all animal-based foods, you might go through a brief detox/withdrawal period. This period is typically short-lived but may cause things like fatigue, headaches, or breakouts. As nutritionist Heather McClees says, “these are all signs that your body is cleaning itself; be patient and wait things out, they do get better! And just remember- detox is temporary, but a positive healthy change can be life-altering.” For more information on this, Click Here.


Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the tips!


  1. START WITH AN OPEN MIND


Leave all your preconceived notions of veganism behind. That it’s limiting, expensive, difficult to maintain - not only will you discover that none of these things are true, but approaching the lifestyle with a negative attitude will only hinder what could be a life-changing, fulfilling experience. Instead, focus on all the good; a vegan lifestyle is extremely nourishing, delicious, and full of abundance, and like everything, gets easier with time and practice.


  1. HOME IN ON THE WHY


This tip goes hand in hand with the next one, which is to get educated.


In order to stay motivated and ensure that this lifestyle sticks long term, you need to have a concrete reason as to why you're doing what you're doing. What attracted you to veganism in the first place? Maybe it was your love of animals, interest in helping the environment, desire to improve your health, or all of the above. Whatever reason it may be, really focus in on it and use it as your constant motivation. 

If you ever find yourself drifting away from the lifestyle, this ‘why’ is what will anchor you back in and inspire you to keep doing what you’re doing. Having a strong, meaningful purpose driving your vegan journey is essential in helping you keep your eyes on the gains, like an improved health and the satisfaction of knowing that an animal didn’t have to suffer for your food, rather than the losses, like your ability to have bacon.


  1. GET EDUCATED


The more you know, the easier it’ll be to stay motivated. This means learning all about the benefits of veganism and the practices/costs behind the production of animal products. With every new piece of information you learn, you’ll be that much more motivated to continue with this lifestyle. For example, it wasn't until I really dug into the information surrounding how animals suffer on dairy farms that I was truly moved to give it up. And with every new fact I learned, I became more and more passionate about my decision.


You’re also going to want to learn how to properly nourish your body on a plant-based diet. While a diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes will give you an abundance of all the needed nutrients, a diet full of processed foods, white grains, and vegan donuts will (unfortunately) not. This guide offers a great summary of all this, plus a few recipes at the end and a sample grocery list. Whenever researching nutrition, make sure you get your information from credible sources like this one, this one, or this one.


I would highly recommend taking a look at these resources below:


Videos:



Articles: 



  1. HAVE A MINDSET OF ADDING, NOT TAKING AWAY


Changing your perspective to view veganism as something that adds to your life rather than takes away is key. Many people are inclined to focus on all the things they can’t have with a vegan diet- milk, cheese, eggs, bacon, etc.


This is not the right mentality.


We should instead focus on all the nourishing vegan foods we’re adding to our pallet, and let them naturally replace- or crowd out- the old ones. And since there are vegan versions of nearly any food imaginable, you don't really have to give up anything if you don't want to. A good way of approaching this transition is to always add food to your diet- more fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, beans, cereals, pastas, smoothies, breads, granolas, baked goods, etc. - before taking away.


Also keep in mind that veganism can add to your life in the more abstract way, in that it gives you the incredible satisfaction that comes with knowing you’re acting on your ‘why’ and helping to make a difference. Not to mention the many health benefits you’ll gain along the way!


  1. STOCK UP ON VEGAN STAPLES


Like I said earlier, you want to focus on crowding out non-vegan food rather than cutting out. This means filling your diet with lots of new tastes and flavors so that you naturally become less and less dependent on animal products, rather than immediately cutting out animal products and trying to figure out what can fill their place.

To do this, you’ll need to start stocking up on the vegan staples that can be made into hundreds of different recipes. This will most likely include items that fall into the categories of:

  • Produce (all sorts of fruits and vegetables)
  • Grains (brown rice, bulgur, quinoa, pasta, bread, etc.)
  • Canned goods (various beans)
  • Frozen items (peas, edamame, meat alternatives, ice cream, etc.)
  • Refrigerator items (plant-based milk, butter, & cheese, hummus, etc.)
  • Pantry items (oats, nuts, seeds, snack foods, etc.)
  • ... and so on

Something that may be particularly helpful to take advantage of during your transition is the growing selection of "mock" animal products at most all grocery stores. This includes plant-based versions of nearly every animal product imaginable, like milk, butter, cheese, chicken, meatballs, bacon, yogurt, and more. If the non-vegan versions of these foods composed a large part of your diet before, then taking advantage of these items- especially the uber realistic mock meats- can be a huge help in jump starting your transition. You’ll eventually start to gravitate away from these items and towards healthier, less processed foods, but they’re great to use in the beginning.

Also, although it’s always good to keep processed foods to a minimum, don’t feel as though your switch to veganism means you no longer can indulge in any junk food! Things like chips, pretzels, and crackers are always good for a snack, and baked goods like brownies and cookies are always yummy for dessert.  

And lastly, remember that this is a gradual process. Don't feel as though you need to purchase everything all at once. By gradually incorporating a few new items into your diet each week, your kitchen will be full of tasty, wholesome vegan foods in no time.

If you want me to post a full, printable vegan grocery list, let me know in the comments below! (In the meantime, a quick google search will give you a place to get started).




  1. FIND RECIPES AND GET INSPIRED


Now that you’ve got your staples, it’s time to get into the fun stuff. There are lots of places where you can explore all sorts of tasty vegan recipes, with Pinterest, Youtube, and plain old Google being good starting points (just type in “vegan lunch/dinner/breakfast/dessert ideas” if you aren't sure what to search for). Other good websites include:



There are also lots of great vegan cookbooks such as:


Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World by [Klein, Donna]
          Supermarket Vegan


The China Study Cookbook: Over 120 Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes by [Campbell, LeAnne]


The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook: 125 Easy and Delicious Recipes to Jump-Start Weight Loss and Help You Feel Great by [Barnard, Neal, Webb, Robyn]


Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way by [Coscarelli, Chloe]
Chloe's Kitchen (a bit more gourmet-ish)


If you're feeling overwhelmed and aren't sure where to begin, don’t fret. A good way to start is to simply get a few favorites under your belt- these are meals that you’ll always be able to whip up if you aren't sure what else to eat.


One way to find some of these favorites is to use your favorite non-vegan foods as a starting place. For example, if you loved pasta before, spend time looking into vegan pasta recipes until something sparks your interest. Or if you can’t imagine breakfast without pancakes, experiment with some vegan pancake recipes! There are so many options out there, you’re bound to find something you like.


Remember, though- veganism isn’t just about replicating your previous diet. There’s a plethora of delicious and unique recipes out there that you wouldn’t have even thought about before! So, after getting a couple of the aforementioned favorites down, be adventurous and try out some of these new recipes. Adding new tastes and flavors to your repertoire is what will keep things interesting and motivate you to continue with this lifestyle.


  1. LISTEN TO YOUR HUNGER


When it comes down to it, fruits, vegetables and whole grains simply have fewer calories than the more fatty meats and cheeses. This is one of the reasons why eating plant-based is a great, sustainable alternative to dieting; you’re able to eat in abundance and honor your hunger while still staying healthy and fit.


If you’re used to eating smaller portion sizes, though, you’re probably going to find yourself needing to eat more than you’re used in order to satisfy your hunger. All you need to do for this is listen to your body and never restrict yourself- if you’re hungry, eat! (preferably healthy, wholesome foods :-))


  1. CONNECT WITH OTHER VEGANS ON SOCIAL MEDIA


Surrounding yourself with other people who have gone through the same journey as you is a great way to stay inspired and encouraged. Follow some vegan accounts on Instagram, subscribe to a few vegan vloggers on Youtube, find a couple vegan boards on Pinterest... whichever social platform you use, there’s a vegan community somewhere on there to be found.


  1. PAY ATTENTION TO B12


The one nutrient that plants alone can no longer provide us with (because of the diminished nutrient quality of the soil) is vitamin b12. But don’t fear- there are two easy ways to still obtain a sufficient amount. You can either eat food fortified with b12 like certain cereals, plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast, or you can choose to take a supplement. Click Here to learn all the specifics about this.


  1. GET INTO THE HABIT OF READING THE INGREDIENTS LIST


Animal products have a way of sneaking themselves into several items you would never think twice about being vegan- including certain breads, crackers, and even fake meats- so it’s best to just get into the habit of always checking the ingredients list. It may seem tedious at first, but it’ll soon become second nature and won’t take more than a few seconds.


And last but not least…


  1. STAY POSITIVE, REMEMBER YOUR IMPACT, AND CONTINUE TO LEARN AND GROW!


Deciding to embark on this journey was an incredible decision that you should most definitely be proud of. Not only are you acting on your morals and moving towards a more meaningful, healthy, and compassionate lifestyle, but you’re also gaining the opportunity to try a myriad of new foods, go to new places, and just enjoy the richness and variety that the vegan lifestyle has to offer!


Probably my biggest piece of advice is to always remember your ‘why’ and continuously immerse yourself in new information surrounding it. Knowing this is what will give meaning to your actions, helping you see veganism as a reward to your life rather than a burden.


I truly hope this article helped you and I wish you all the best on your vegan journey. If you have any questions or concerns, requests for future posts, or comments about your own vegan journey, feel free to comment them down below. And if you liked this, be sure to subscribe so that you never miss a future post (just scroll up and enter your email on the right, or scroll down if you're on mobile). See you next time!


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