Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Going vegan or plant-based can be a hard decision and should not be! Sometimes the beginning is harder than it should be and if you lack a support system it is a lonely one.
When I started off with being a vegetarian over 15 years ago, it was a long and lonely road. No one else at that time did it, heard of it, etc. Being a vegan was so far from my radar as it seemed like an impossible feat. The beginning was a typical cutting out meat experience. I was ridiculed and told I wouldn't stick with it, it's just a fad, it won't last. I was always asked why with disgust and then followed up with "Oh I could never do that! Don't you miss it?". I felt always on the defense.
Then there was a shift that happened in this world and people started realizing that I was not the weirdo or the extreme one. It was beginning to gain popularity, especially as people saw that they could live healthier and lower their risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, by cutting out animal products. Then I had people coming to me for advice and help instead of mocking. I have been able to help people now with their own journey and not just defend my own. We are raising our baby on a plant-based diet and he is above average for height and weight. He is so healthy and his doctor is even on board with his diet. I don't know if I could ever have done this years ago. The world is changing in a good way and if you are about to jump onto this movement then you are a part of this amazing change that will save people, animals and the environment.
Here are some simple steps that will help you be more successful in your journey going plant-based.
1. When I gave up meat, I didn't know what I was doing. I was not a vegan at the time and just ate a ton of processed foods that were covered in cheese. Cheese pizza, cheese quesadilla, egg and cheese sandwich, grilled cheese. I felt horrible all the time. I wasn't sure why. It was all the inflammation that dairy causes in the body. By starting off with a whole food plant based diet, you are going to start off healthier. Using meat substitutes, vegan cheeses and processed vegan meals are helping the environment and animals, but not doing much for your health. So if that is an important factor when considering this way of life then you need to make sure you are eating whole foods that nourish the body. It is way easier than you think!!!
2. True or False- When you become vegan all you can eat are salads.
False!!! I have never ate so many amazing food dishes that are full of flavor and rich in nutrition. We do not eat much of the "standard American diet." That may make you sad if you are a lover of that food. However, your taste buds will evolve and you will notice after a while that the American food is really bland and the awesome food you eat will be so much better. I can promise you this!! We eat a lot of ethnic food. Indian, Italian, Asian, Mediterranean are all in our daily mix. No need to worry about being protein deficient. People tend to get way more protein than is needed and that extra protein causes the kidneys to work overtime to filter it out of your body.
Here is an article by my inspiration- Rich Roll:
3. Challenges are inevitable and everyone's journey is individual. If you have a support system or even just one person to be your cheerleader than you will be off to a great start! Going out to eat, traveling, socializing are all challenges and get easier with time as you learn. I always look at restaurant menus before going if it is somewhere I have not been. Then I am prepared and not sweating or can eat something before I go if there is limited items for me to eat. I pack snacks for the car to always have nuts, trail mix or something if I am hungry. Traveling is not too bad either. Look at what restaurants are in the area you are going and see where a grocery store is near by. Get a hotel that has a kitchenette with a fridge so you can get some groceries for your hotel. If driving, pack snacks and lunches so you can save money and not stress about finding somewhere to eat. When visiting family or friends, I always bring a dish to share. It introduces others to vegan food and you are guaranteed something to eat!
4. Pinterest is an amazing tool!! If you go to my Pinterest page (find in the contact me section or home page and click on the icon) I have recipes that I have personally made for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack, Desserts as well as vegan lifestyle tips and green living! I make all my meal plans from looking at my Pinterest page. It is a great tool that I did not have at the beginning of my journey .
5. Vegan Cookbooks-
I LOVE Mayim's Vegan Table by Mayim Bialik, you know from Blossom or if you are younger than me, the Big Bang Theory. Her book is great. It is full of recipes that the entire family will eat, using everyday ingredients. This way you don't have to go to a specialty store or anything. Go to a local book store and look around to see if any of them call to you. I also love How Not To Die cookbook by Dr. Michael Greger. He is brilliant and if you don't know who he is, you need to check him out. He has a free website that he posts daily on, tons of resources and recipes.
6. Clean out your Pantry-
Go through your cupboards and fridge and do a clean out of everything. If you have items that you can donate to a local church or food shelter then do so! I hate wasting food, but it sitting in my cupboard with no intention of using it is a waste too. Make a shopping list for some staples and a few recipes to try. Head to the store! I love going to Whole Foods. They have their 365 brand which states right on it if it's vegan, almost all of it is organic and costs way less!!
I have a group of my favorites- Rich Roll, Michael Greger, T. Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard are a few. You can look them up and get a ton of info. Here a some great websites to check out.
Rich Roll, www.richroll.com
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, www.pcrm.org
Mind Body Green, www.mindbodygreen.com
Vegan Body Building, www.veganbodybuilding.com
VegNews Magazine, www.vegnews.com
Elizabeth Kucinich, www.elizabethkucinich.com
Meatless Monday, www.meatlessmonday.com
Choosing Raw, www.choosingraw.com
Engine 2 Diet, www.engine2diet.com
Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org
Forks Over Knives, www.forksoverknives.com
Non-GMO Project, www.nongmoproject.org
T. Colin Campbell, www.tcolincampbell.org
Dr. Dean Ornish, www.pmri.org
Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, www.heartattackproof.com
Dr. John McDougall, www.drmcdougall.com
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, www.drfuhrman.com
Dr. Michael Greger, www.nutritionfacts.org
Christian Vegetarian Association, www.all-creatures.org
There are some awesome documentaries. Many are on Netflix for you can check them out. I have also found some at the local library. My favorite is What the Health!
Here is a list of many others to look into....
Forks Over Knives
Super Size Me
The Future of Food
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
What The Health
Live and Let Live
Hungry For Change
The Last Pig
8. Connect with a group-
There are some great groups on Facebook and other social media outlets. Look into it and see if you can connect with other people in your area. There are sometimes groups that have monthly meetings or hold events. You can look into something like that. We have the Cleveland Vegan Society here that holds events and a huge VegFest once a year. There is also some groups on Facebook like Vegans and Vegetarians of Cleveland, Ohio or Cleveland Vegan Kids. It is a great resource when you have questions.
Lastly, if you feel like you need extra help and want to take advantage of my plant-based mentoring, check out the work with me page on this website and click on plant-based mentoring for more information. I would love to hear from you and help you have the best possible start to this amazing way of living. I truly believe it is a blessing to live this way, not something I am missing out on or a burden! Good luck to you on your individual journey!!!