How to transition to a plant-based diet
I haven’t really discussed it much on the blog, but believe it or not, I have been following a plant-based diet since February of this year. That’s right, the salmon lover has given up salmon.
(However, I’m not vegan because I still eat honey and do carry leather handbags.)
Before I dive into this post, I want you to know that my intention isn’t to call you over to the dark side, shame you for being a meat eater, or to tell you that my way is the right way. I just thought I might help someone who is already thinking about making the transition because it does present its challenges.
I initially gave up animal products as one of many lifestyle changes that I made as a desperate attempt control my rheumatoid arthritis. However, it wasn’t until I watched several graphic, disturbing, and downright horrific documentaries and YouTube videos that actually knew I was over meat, seafood, and eggs for good. (I was already dairy-free.) It is simply impossible to unsee those images.
I guess that’s my long-winded way of telling you that I gave up animal products for health and ethical reasons.
While I was mostly happy and excited to make the transition, it still wasn’t easy. A post like this would have been really helpful at the time, and I hope that it can serve as a valuable guide for you.
- Start off slowly. Making such a drastic lifestyle change can be overwhelming. Rather than frustrating yourself to the point where you just want to throw in the towel, why not start gradually? Maybe eliminate dairy first, then eggs, and eventually poultry, meat, fish, etc. I eliminated everything but fish initially, and I actually found that I just naturally lost my taste and desire for fish as a result. I never thought that would happen!
- Don’t use meat substitutes. There are so many fake burgers, chicken tenders, and whatever else out there, but many of them are highly processed and contain loads of garbage. I recommend finding new exciting dishes to make rather than attempting to use these poor substitutes. A veggie burger once in awhile certainly won’t kill you, but just be sure to read the ingredient list carefully- or just make your own! After all, part of the point of being plant-based is to eat cleaner real foods.
- Get creative in the kitchen. When I first went plant based, I assumed that I was only going to be able to eat salads and drink green smoothies every day. As much as I love those things, I do appreciate a little variety. Once I discovered some amazing vegan websites and cookbooks, I learned that the possibilities are truly endless- and delicious.
- Realize that you might have to eat more food. I was constantly hungry when I first switched to a plant-based diet, and it was because the foods that I was eating were naturally so low in calories and fat. In my opinion, this is a pretty fabulous problem to have! Once I increased my portions, my belly felt satisfied.
- Talk to other people who are veggie-based. I’ll admit that I was a little bit nervous about making such a drastic lifestyle change. So, I emailed a few vegan and vegetarian friends to ask what the transition was like for them, how their friends and family responded, what it was like to eat in a restaurant, etc. It really helped to talk to people who understood because it made me feel like part of a community.
- Find plant-based sources of protein. Before I went veg, I used to hear that the most commonly asked question vegans and vegetarians get is where they get their protein. This couldn’t be more accurate. Be prepared to get asked that question…a lot. Also get ready to blow people’s minds with this response: apples, bananas, broccoli, chickpeas, pasta. tempeh, lentils, oranges, rice, and spinach (to name a few!).
I’m not going to lie. Sometimes I do miss being able to order a burger, but overall, this way of being agrees with me. I haven’t felt this healthy in many many years and have never felt so much compassion for animals, and I hope to continue to see the benefits of living this way. I’m also so fortunate to have the support of my wonderful husband which definitely helps.
If you would like to see a follow-up or if you have any questions, please leave a comment.
I have a favorites post set for next week and a completely natural cleaning method to share with you, so check on back!