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This year my family made the decision to follow a whole foods, plant-based vegan diet! Here are my top 10 tips for going vegan. If you’d like to learn more about our plant-based journey, head here to read about it!
1. Do Your Research!
If you don’t have a reason for starting a vegan diet, you are going to have a hard time sticking to it! For my family, our reason was health. Not only did we have a doctor and dietitians explaining the benefits of a vegan diet, but we watched documentaries, listened to podcasts, and scoured the internet for information.
The more credible* information we consumed, the more confident we felt in making our decision to follow a whole foods, plant-based diet!
*I mention credible here because there is a lot of misinformation out there and some of it is supported by the very industries that want you to keep eating meat, dairy, and eggs. Make sure you sift through the research and find credible sources that you can trust.
One of my favorite websites is www.nutritionfacts.org. This website is a non-profit, evidence-based website that provides free information about nutrition!
- Food Matters (Amazon Prime) 2008
- Forks Over Knives (Netflix) 2011
- Cowspiracy (Netflix) 2014
- What The Health (Netflix) 2017
- Diet Fiction (Itunes) 2019
I am currently working on a list of the most valuable sources I have found and will be sharing it here soon!
2. Clear Out Your Kitchen
Once we made the decision to go completely vegan and focus on a whole foods, plant-based diet we cleared out our kitchen. We went through the pantry, spice cabinet, fridge and freezer. Shortly after going vegan we had a get-together at our house where we sent home family members with the items we no longer need.
If you can avoid waste, try to donate or give away the food items you don’t need. I 100% believe you need to get them out of your house though! This way you won’t be tempted or accidentally eat something that doesn’t fit into your new lifestyle. Also, you will make room for all of the delicious fresh food you plan to eat!
3. Focus on What You CAN Eat
I heard this a few times when I first started researching a vegan diet: Focus on what you CAN eat, not on what you CAN’T. I found that when meals no longer centered on animal meat, I became more creative with vegetables, grains, and legumes!
We also ended up saving money because I could fill up a cart of fresh produce for a fraction of what high-quality meat products cost. (Another bonus, I never worry about contamination in my kitchen – no more dirty cutting boards from raw meat or eggs!)
4. Start Simple
You don’t need to create elaborate meals for them to taste fresh and delicious. Our first week of a plant-based diet, I prepped a combination of grains, legumes, and produce that could be mixed in different ways to create bowls. You can check out my first vegan meal prep here!
Tip: Make a list of your family’s favorite meals (tacos and pasta were at the top of our list!) Brainstorm how you can easily make them plant-based. For us that looked like black bean tacos and veggie-loaded pasta. These are two meals that I can whip up in under 30 minutes so we have them at least once a week!
5. Give Yourself Grace
You may not transition perfectly to a vegan diet and that’s ok! Give yourself grace whenever a slip-up happens. If you are out somewhere and there is literally nothing you can eat, but you are hungry – go ahead and eat! Don’t starve yourself. However, this doesn’t give you permission to be unprepared in situations where you could have planned for a better outcome, which brings me to my next tip…
6. Be Prepared
As with most dietary habits where you avoid specific foods, you have to be prepared. This is especially true if you are going out of your home where you don’t have direct control over the options available.
Food prep and planning might take up time and I can understand that some people don’t enjoy it. However, most of us eat a minimum of 3 times per day, sometimes more. Food is a daily constant in our lives, so you should expect that it requires some time and thought. It is the biggest factor in our health and well-being, which adds even more importance to it. If you think food prep and planning is time consuming, realize that it is a large part of your daily life so wouldn’t you want it to be well thought out? Also, it will impact you for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. So often we look for quick fixes (through supplements, medication, shakes, fitness programs, etc.) when all we need to do is focus on providing our bodies essential, natural nutrients.
CHECK OUT MY FAVORITE VEGAN TRAVEL SNACKS
CHECK OUT HOW WE GO TO NON-VEGAN PARTIES & EVENTS
Even in your own home, you can clear out all the meat and dairy items, but if you don’t plan for healthy, nutritious meals you are going to struggle.
I say healthy and nutritious because you can avoid animal meat and products, but still eat an unhealthy diet! That’s why we decided to focus on whole foods, plant-based – not just vegan. We don’t want to fill our plates with processed foods, the goal is to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nutrient-dense beans and legumes!
7. Don’t Eat Crap
Seriously, don’t eat only processed foods and then complain that a vegan diet didn’t make you feel better, lose weight, or any other reason you might have for switching to this diet.
I also highly recommend consulting a vegan or plant-based dietitian if possible! This was extremely important to me because I wanted to ensure that my whole family was getting adequate nutrients. Our dietitian gave us a sample weekly meal plan and suggested vitamins that were appropriate for my husband, my toddler, and myself.
Check out MarriedToHealth if you are searching a plant-based dietitian. They are a married couple, dietitian power team!
8. Find a Community or Support Group
I have always found it helpful to find community – whether online or in-person – when making any dietary or lifestyle changes.
Facebook: You can find tons of supportive Facebook groups where you can ask questions, browse for advice, or even get ideas for products to buy and recipes to try!
Instagram: Search hashtags like #wfpb or #vegan to get ideas for recipes and new accounts to follow!
9. Be Proud of Your Decision
Don’t be ashamed of your decision to eat a vegan diet! You might find people who grumble about your decision, but that’s on them! This is where your reason why comes in. Having some knowledge and research behind your decision will make you feel even more empowered to share it with others.
Note: Don’t be judgmental of others! If you do share information about why you decided to follow a vegan diet, simply share the facts politely. The last thing anyone wants is to be shamed for their food decisions. Even if they happen to shame your first!
10. Treat Yo’ Self
Search for a vegan restaurant or offerings in your area and treat yourself to a nice vegan dinner out! Or find a local vegan baker or vegan goodies at a local store. See if there are any vegan festivals or outings in your area – it’s nice to be around like-minded individuals who are taking the same journey as you!