The transition to veganism does not have to be complicated or as challenging as one might think. It can be a gradual process of eliminating one animal at a time or one food group at a time. It can also be a joyous process, because with each shift you make in what foods you add and eliminate, there will be an even greater shift in consciousness. Your level of compassion will rise and kindness towards yourself, animals and our fragile environment will envelope you. You become part of the solution in saving our animals/planet versus part of the problem.
This article is to help you make the transition to veganism very easy. I am going to share five simple suggestions that I wish someone would have come to me with when I went vegan.
1. Give up eating one animal a month. You can start wherever you feel the most comfortable. For example, give up eating cows for the month of September. Just cows! You can eat the rest of the animals you enjoy consuming. In October, give up eating chickens. So on and so forth until several months later, you are no longer ingesting slaughtered flesh at all! If you are able to make the change all at once, bravo! For most, though, it is not as quick a transition, and the process is a lengthy one. Honor the process that works best for you.
2. Eat more greens and fruit at each meal. This is easy enough, isn't it? Focus on what you are adding to your plate versus taking away. Fill your plate largely with colorful vegetables, greens and ripe organic fruits. I promise you that if you do this in addition to eliminating one animal at a time, your path to veganism will be as smooth as can be. You will wonder why you didn't do it even sooner. You will feel better, your skin will begin to glow and hydrate, you most likely will lose weight, and the animals will thank you as you are saving their lives.
3. Switch from dairy milk to almond milk. Easy Peasy! I haven't met one adult who doesn't like almond milk, and kids LOVE chocolate almond milk! I believe this is the first and easiest shift towards eliminating dairy. When you are ready to make further changes to your diet, begin to experiment with Daiya cheese; it’s a vegan cheese that makes for great pizza. Pizza seems to be everyone's “crutch” as they are transitioning, but there are so many delicious vegan pizzas out there! Whole Foods has a plethora of options in their frozen food section. Experiment, and have fun with it. When you eliminate dairy completely, you will see improvements in your health within three weeks; mark my words! If you cheat along the way, that's okay too. Just try again tomorrow.
4. Fall in love with quinoa. Replace white rice with quinoa. It tastes so much better and is so incredibly healthy. Quinoa is one of the tastiest vegan proteins I know of! Quinoa can be added to salads, used in burritos, stir-fries, pastas, porridges, chilis or just plain as a snack. They even have vegan chocolate quinoa bars that taste better than a Nestle Crunch bar - yum. Finally, quinoa is very filling and will give you that feeling of just having eaten comfort food.
5. Green Juice. Getting all of your daily vitamins and minerals in the form of one eight-ounce glass of green juice is pretty amazing! If you do not have a juicer or Vitamix, there are plenty of juice bars now in most metropolitan cities. It's worth a try and so healthy for you! The great thing about green juice is that all of the nutrients are immediately absorbed, making digestion a snap!
To make the transition to veganism easy, enjoyable and doable, I personally do not recommend “just juicing” every day. I do not think it is a sustainable goal for most people. I recommend adding in a juice for breakfast and maybe the next day, a juice as a snack. Build up to a juice fast if you would like, but if not, a juice a day is nutritious and provides you with more energy than any supplement I have ever taken. Psstt... it helps you have bowel movements, too!
When I went vegan, I encountered many people in the raw food community who made me feel like a failure that I was unable to do it overnight. I was not able to transition quick enough and felt terrible about it. Therefore, I want to spend my energy and time reassuring all of you that going vegan can take years for some people, and that is completely okay. It is okay if you simply partake in “Meatless Mondays” for months, and then decide to add on “Meatless Tuesdays.” Every single change you make is to be celebrated!
If you follow the five simple steps above, I am confident you will be a part of the vegan community much quicker than you would have ever dreamed! Being vegan is one of the absolute best ethical decisions of my life, but the transition was fraught with discouragement. If these five steps can make your transition easier, then I have done my job well today!