8 Tips to transition to a vegan diet
I became vegan in January 2018. My husband was a vegetarian for many years and made his transition to becoming vegan fall 2017. I always admired him for that and seeing how much the diet benefited him, I knew it was something I had to try. I wasn’t fully convinced until I watched “What the Health” on Netflix. That documentary opened my eyes to the dairy and meat industry. Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use and intake of animal products. The transition was not easy, but in the end it was worth it. I have more energy and I noticed a difference on the inside and outside!
Reflect and research
Why do you want to go vegan? People choose a vegan lifestyle for different reasons such as: health concerns, environmental conservation, and animal welfare. I chose veganism originally for my health. I have high cholesterol in my family and my levels were climbing. Once I began a vegan diet, my cholesterol levels lowered significantly. I also did not have the best gut health, and cutting out dairy and meat alleviated most of my gastrointestinal complaints. A few months after my transition I started to educate myself by watching more documentaries and reading articles. I realized why animal welfare and environmental conservation are also very important reasons to become a vegan. I recommend watching some documentaries on Netflix such as: “Fork Over Knives”, “Cowspiracy”, “What the Health”, and “Earthlings”.
Go slow and steady
When I went vegan I went “cold turkey”. I did not slowly transition and my body went haywire. My gut wasn’t adjusting to the sudden changes. I was bloated due to the increase of fiber intake and I also had acne breakouts from consuming more soy. I would recommend that you slowly swap out your animal based products with the plant based equivalent. You can switch to dairy free butter, milk, ice cream, and even coffee creamer. SoDelicious is one of my favorite brands. They make a really good coconut milk coffee creamer and delicious cashew milk ice cream flavors. You can also incorporate meatless options into your daily meals.
Cut back on processed food
One of my biggest mistakes when transitioning was relying on processed foods. There is such thing as vegan junk food! When I first transitioned, I consumed a lot of carbs and “meatless” alternatives including soy protein. I believe this was the culprit of most of my new onset acne when I transitioned. Gardein in the freezer section has “beefless” tips, “meatless” meatballs, and “meatloaf” that is made from soy. These may be convenient but try to limit these products because it is processed. Choose to eat vegetables and beans as your main source of protein. My favorites are spinach, chickpeas, lentils, and black beans. I have learned recipes on how to make chickpea meatloaf, chickpea curries, and chickpea “chicken” salad. There are many delicious recipes you can use that do not have to include processed ingredients.
Eat the rainbow
I’ve never been very conscious on what my plate looked like until I became a vegan. I try to make my plate as nutrient dense and colorful as I can. I cook with different colored peppers, greens, and an assortment of other vegetables and legumes. There is an array of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals packed in fruits and vegetables that can improve your health! You know you are consuming a daily intake of important fruits and vegetables that your body needs when your plate looks like a rainbow.
Try new recipes and have pantry staples
Since becoming vegan I cook more at home and I actually enjoy meal prepping! I look forward to preparing new recipes I have found on pinterest. My favorite recipe is my vegetable lasagna made with spinach, mushrooms, and almond ricotta cheese. I also love finding new cookbooks. My favorite cookbook is: “Sweet Potato Soul” by Jenee Claiborne. It has easy to make plant based recipes. I made an amazing pot of black eyed peas from her book. When you need to find an ingredient or need to whip up a quick meal it is helpful to have a few staples in your pantry My go-to staples are: nutritional yeast, brown rice, lentils, soy sauce, canned coconut milk, chickpeas, black beans, vegetable broth, and flaxseed meal. I also stock up on spices and dried herbs such as: garlic powder, cayenne, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, oregano, and cumin. I love to make stews and I use plenty of spices and herbs.
carry snacks and explore your city
When I first became vegan the hardest part was finding out how to feel satiated. I was trying to balance out the right amount of portions and types of food for my daily meals and what to eat in between. My go to snacks are 100% fruit/chia bars and nut mixes. Whenever I’m feeling hungry and need a snack, I just reach in my bag for these small healthy treats. Staying on a consistent vegan diet is easy at home but what happens when you are out and about? Living in NYC has afforded me the luxury of finding many vegan cafes and restaurants. My favorite phone app is called HappyCow, it lists all the vegan friendly places on a map that is nearby. My husband and I make it a hobby to explore new vegan cafes and restaurants in Brooklyn. My favorite vegan restaurant in Brooklyn is Modern Love.
Take your vitamins and supplements
I’ve always taken my vitamins before switching to a vegan diet but I’m more conscious of it now. I take a multivitamin that has a good amount of Vitamin B-12 and a probiotic. My doctor was concerned about my levels when I converted to a vegan diet but my levels were all within range due to my vitamin supplementation. I also take a probiotic because it regulates my gut flora and taking them can improve your immune system and skin.
To wear or toss?
When becoming vegan one of the ethical dilemmas you may face is what to do with your animal based clothing goods. I have many leather bags, shoes, down coats, etc. I have chosen to wear my goods until I’m able to slowly replace items one at a time. I do not have the money or luxury to discard everything I have and buy brand new items of clothing. An animal was sacrificed for that article of clothing and it should not go to waste. My first big vegan purchase was a hemp parka by Hoodlamb. My husband bought a Hoodlamb nordic parka and wore it while we were in Iceland. He was very warm and dry on our excursions to the glaciers and waterfalls! This company is amazing if you want a toasty and durable coat for winter.
I hope you have found these tips helpful! Just remember that this is a transition and it is ok to take your time.