I became vegan four years ago because I like the way I feel when I’m eating mostly plants. The food is every bit as delicious as non-vegan food but much healthier.
November is National Vegan Month, so I wanted to share some of my top tips for going vegan for those who might be on the fence. These tips will show you how easy it can be to transition to a vegan diet, and how to enjoy it once you’ve made the switch!
1. Don’t worry about what you can’t eat.
And get excited about what you CAN eat: Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and beans can all be prepared in endless ways.
Make sure to stock your pantry with vegan staples:
- Flax meal
- Canned chickpeas
- Vegetable broth
- Non-dairy milk
- Nutritional yeast
- Maple syrup
2. Commit to making one swap a week.
Phase animal products out slowly until you've completely eliminated them from your diet. Swap is the key word here. Replace meat with more veggies or meat alternatives like tofu, seitan, and tempeh.
Replace dairy with store-bought or homemade alternatives. When baking, I use bananas instead of eggs, baking soda and vinegar as a leavener, and ground flax seeds mixed with a little bit of water as a binder.
These are all foods that I keep in my kitchen that are inexpensive and nutritious.
3. Look for vegan snacks.
The vegan food market is booming, especially as more consumers are seeking healthier, cleaner foods. In response, brands are producing more vegan snacks.
Remember, just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself! A quick online search will reveal a number of innovative and delicious vegan-friendly snacks that you can find at your local grocer or online.
4. Join the community.
Start following vegan Instagram accounts and blogs for recipe inspiration and daily motivation. Look for vegan meet-ups in your area, and join nonjudgmental Facebook groups like What Fat Vegans Eat, Veganuary, and This Rawsome Vegan Life.
Borrow flavors from vegetable-heavy cuisines like Thai and Indian. Spend some time reading vegan recipe blogs and cookbooks, and try cooking one new dish every week.
6. Be prepared ... to talk.
People are going to ask you questions about your vegan diet, so have some canned replies ready. Here are some of my favorite responses to commonly asked vegan questions:
Q: Where do you get your protein?
A: The same place elephants, rhinoceroses, and cows get their protein — from plants!
Q: What do you eat?
A: Probably a lot of the same things as you, like fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. Just because I’m vegan doesn’t mean I starve myself — I just eliminate certain foods from my diet.
Q: How can you afford to be vegan? That food is so expensive!
A: Since when are fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts expensive? Actually, the food I eat probably costs less than yours.
7. Get educated to stay motivated.
Watch movies like Forks Over Knives and Earthlings, and read books such as Diet for a New America. The more you know, the more motivated you'll be.
8. Be kind to yourself and others.
Remember, being vegan isn't about perfection; it's about doing the best you can. Be patient with yourself, and once you become a vegan guru, remember that others are still trying. Help them; don't judge them.
Welcome to the club!
Photo Credit: Getty Images