Did you know that each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, and one animal’s life?
There are so many reasons to go plant based:
- To lower your risk of heart disease and type two diabetes
- Treat or reverse other current health conditions
- Keep your weight in check
- Show kindness and compassion towards innocent harmless animals
- To reduce the amount of bacteria, hormones, antibiotics and other toxins in our body
- Save the environment and stop climate change
- Improve your fitness levels
- Experience better skin and ease digestion
- Improve your mood
- Save money
- It’s never been easier than it is today!
1. Change one thing at a time, or take the plunge – It depends on what works best for you. Some people say take the plunge and go completely vegan for 6 weeks straight. It will be hard but your body will adjust. Some people say to change out one thing at a time. For example, give up cow’s milk and instead switch to plant milk. Once you have adjusted that, start having vegetarian meals 5 days a week. Once you can get to 7 days, look at adding alternatives to your food to avoid dairy and other animal products. For example you can switch cream to coconut milk in curry or pasta dishes. Remove yoghurt, cheese and eggs from your diet. Start adding in a lot more beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and vegetables into your diet.
Once you have mastered this you can look for vegan alternatives of meat products. I love making nachos using veggie mince and chilli beans. You can add veggie sausages, tofu or ‘chicken-free’ chicken to your meals to bulk them up as well. If you are wondering what to eat for lunch if you aren’t a ‘salad’ person, try adding roasted kumara, pumpkin or brown rice to make meals more wholesome and filling.
2. Find vegan alternatives – This can be for any type of meal. I used to say “but what can you have on toast in the morning if you don’t have it with eggs”? Now I have tomato, avocado, chilli beans, or peanut butter with banana and chia seeds! How about making Ice Cream you don’t need to feel guilty for eating? My two favourite desserts are Chocolate Tart and Cookie Dough Bliss Balls – Give them a try, seriously! When you eat real wholefoods you feel fuller quicker, and may find that your taste buds adapt to the new (real) food you are eating. This may mean that you cannot go back to your old diet because you can taste the salt, sugar, and artificial flavoring stronger than ever before!
3. Avoid empty carbs – Don’t think that anything not containing animal products is now ‘healthy’. Stay away from foods that have ingredients you can’t pronounce. The goal is to nourish your body with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and more. Limit your intake of potato, bread, white rice and white pasta. When you consume high carb foods that aren’t slow releasing and you don’t burn it off, it causes a sugar spike in your blood stream. This can result in diabetes later down the track.
4. Know your ‘why’ – Understand why you are making such changes to your lifestyle. If you know your reasoning for making the switch, it will really help pull you through the hard times when you feel like giving up. Reasoning may include better health for your body, animal welfare, environmental issues, ethics/morals in general, or simply because you are interested in why it is suddenly booming and everyone is raving about it. Challenges that vegans may face are learning new meals to cook at home and difficulty when dining out, as well as ensuring you get enough nutrition by balancing the diet well or taking supplements. The main problem that people face are acceptance from friends, family and work colleagues. All of a sudden you are seen as difficult/fussy/extreme/stupid or ‘just following a trend’. It can be hard to explain to your loved ones why you think this is a much better way to live, because many people just have a closed mind and don’t want to hear it. They may be scared of being convinced to make the change themselves, so they just tell you you’re wrong.
Did you know that cheese is one of the hardest items of food to give up, because it literally trigger’s the same area in the brain as drugs! It is advertised to us everywhere that we need dairy for protein and calcium, yet what the world doesn’t know is that the dairy industry literally paid for that to be marketed to us. The food pyramids you get in schools growing up saying we need meat as part of a ‘balanced meal’, was paid for by the meat industry! Studies show that countries who consume the largest amount of dairy products, actually have the highest risk of osteoporosis. I have also learnt that dairy products contribute to cancer growth rates, due to the hormones in the milk. After all, the purpose of cow’s milk is to turn a 65 pound calf into a 400 pound cow as rapidly as possible!
5. Watch documentaries – I have never watched a documentary in my life up until I started watching videos on this topic, and trust me – it’s FAR from boring! The three that I most highly recommend are listed below – Click the title to take you through to the trailer video. Just watching through these again I am already getting goosebumps!
- Forks Over Knives
- Food Matters
- What The Health (my favourite)
- Dairy Is Scary (a short 5 minute video explaining the dairy industry, worth the watch)
6. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up – Everyone has their own way of doing it. Some people stick to it most of the time, but eat normally when they dine out as a ‘treat’. Some people eat eggs from their home raised chickens. I’m personally not fussy when it comes to animal products in small amounts, so I don’t freak out if I have a little bit here and there, but don’t buy or cook it at all for myself. Once you find how to maintain the diet based on your personal needs or lifestyle, you will find it a lot easier. I encourage anyone trying to go vegan because any change towards this kind lifestyle is better than nothing. Some people find that when they do go back to eating a meal that they would have before the transition, they may not tend to enjoy it anymore anyway. For example I get a lunch buffet at my work, and they have meat available. For once I decided to put some on the side of my plate, as well as some soup that I’m guessing contained cream. Little did I know that this would cause extreme stomach bloating, and a strong feeling of nauseousness after eating it. I used to say “but how can you eat a salad without chicken”? Now I look at chicken for what it is – flesh. I would much rather add in more fulfilling ingredients that make you feel good after you have eaten the meal.
7. Inspire others by showing them the benefits instead of protesting or arguing – Vegan’s have given themselves a bad reputation. It can be so easy once you find out the facts, to think “how does nobody else realise this”. But remember that it was once you as well. You feel like you have just discovered the most incredible thing in the world to prevent people from dying. To aid them in having much healthier, energetic, active lifestyles. Yet people will call you extreme and crazy for stepping out of the ordinary to follow your new beliefs. Your friends and family will shut you down, say that you need meat to survive, that you need dairy products for protein, or that it’s just a diet ‘phase’ that people will get over soon enough. Trust me I used to judge people as well. I work in hospitality and when I was serving 600 people dinners and people have to be a pain and order something ‘vegetarian’, I just thought god damn why can’t you just be a normal person and eat whats on your plate. Now I am on the other side of the fence and I love it now that I have an insight to the benefits!
Instead of participating in extreme/annoying/pointless protests, put your new found knowledge out in a more positive way. Post photos of the delicious meals you cook, or better yet, invite your loved ones over for dinner to taste the food! Tell everyone about how much better you are feeling, physically and/or mentally. Encourage people you know to watch the documentaries so they can understand your point of view and reasoning behind it. ‘What The Health’ was my turning point for finally making the decision to do it! I had watched others before but was never able to stick with the diet for more than a few weeks. What The Health just talks about the things I am more passionate about I guess, which is why it touched my heart and was such a huge influencer.
8. But what should I eat? If you decide to take it step by step, I would start by replacing one thing at a time. Instead of getting your milk from the fridge, go to the shelf instead and have a choice of almond, soy, oat, rice or cashew milk. You can make all the same things you did before, with just one simple change. I never ate nachos before because my digestive system couldn’t handle the fat in the mince. Now I can make nachos with vegetarian mince (which is amazingly so close to the real thing but WAY better), mixed in with chilli beans and tomato paste. You will also get used to using a lot of flavouring. I love chilli flakes, turmeric, rosemary, cajun and moroccan seasoning. Search online (pinterest is the best) for vegan recipes. As it’s becoming more and more popular, more companies are stocking the supermarkets with vegan food, giving us a wider range of options. There is also a wider range of content being distributed online by bloggers and influencers to give you ideas and inspiration.
Do your research on how to ensure your diet is nutrient dense, live with mindfulness, experiment in the kitchen, influence others in a positive way, educate others, and know your WHY ♥
Comment below if you have any questions on the topic, I would love to help you take a step in the right direction. Also feel free to follow my Instagram for an insight into my positive lifestyle ♦