Before we start, I want to make sure that you all know that I'm not trying to force you all to make changes or diss anyone's diet. I just want to share my personal experience with switching to eating a plant-based diet. I waited so long to write this post because I know this is a touchy subject, and the last thing I want to do is insult someone. So, I hope that you'll respect my decision to switch, and I'll respect your decision as well. Deal?
Without any further ado, here are some tips to switching to a plant-based/vegan diet, along with some reasons why I made the switch (along with some helpful infographics and some funny memes!)
Do it for the "Right" Reasons
The main reason why I decided to make this change originally was to support Dan. If you follow his health journey, you know that he's been working on improving his diet and overall health, and after researching different options and talking to a friend (who has been vegan for over a year now), he decided on veganism. He watched a few documentaries, which were too graphic for me, and did research (see below), and we both came to the conclusion that we wanted to make this major life change together. At first, we were just planning on trying it out for a month and seeing how it went, but we haven't looked back at all since we made the switch!
This came about during a time when we were going through a lot of big life changes (getting married, buying our first home, changing jobs), so it felt like the right time to make a change in my diet as well. We started our vegan diet at the beginning of July, and so far we've both been doing great and don't miss our old eating habits at all. I don't feel like I'm missing out on my old favorite foods and haven't gotten any cravings to eat meat or dairy. The hardest part for me so far is eliminating eggs, mostly because I love to bake and it's hard to bake anything without eggs!
It's hard to make any changes to your life if you're doing it all alone, and drastically changing a diet is no different. When I did the Whole30, having support from Margaret and the RunningWhole facebook group helped keep me on track and give me motivation to keep going. In the same way, I found support in different places to keep up this lifestyle and learn more about the "vegan way of life".
I reached out to a few friends who are also vegan or vegetarians with questions, and they have all been really supportive and helpful during this journey. I also started having monthly vegan dinners, where we all get together and try out new recipes (and, let's be honest, drink wine and beer). Everyone that I've talked to has been more than happy to give me advice or offer help along the way. I also found a ton of help and information on Reddit as well, and there are so many online forums dedicated to veganism!
Now, I always take studies and research with a grain of salt. If you try searching the benefits of drinking milk, you'll find plenty of websites that list all the wonders of dairy. If you search for reasons not to drink milk, you'll find just as many websites condemning dairy. This is the same for a vegan diet- plenty of research is out there listing the benefits, while other research proves that it's an unhealthy and unethical lifestyle. Point being- no matter what type of diet you choose, you'll find good things about it along side people saying you shouldn't do it. I think it's great to do your research, but also experiment and find out what works for you.
In addition to reasons why I should go vegan, I also researched how I could do this in a healthy way, particularly with an active lifestyle. One big concern of this diet is the lack of Vitamin B-12 and getting enough protein. After looking up alternative ways to get these two in my diet, I added a B-12 supplement to my diet, and make sure I'm getting enough protein from beans, chia seeds, flax seed, or plant-based protein.
Make a Pinterest Board
One of the main comments I've gotten in real life and on the blog is that someone would love to go vegan, but it's too hard or they would miss XXX food. I definitely had this same mind set, but it has been such an easy change. Trust me- if Dan (whose diet used to consist of hot pockets, bacon, and milk) can do it, anyone can.
The main thing that helps me is making a Pinterest board. There are so many vegan substitution that I actually prefer (coconut milk, chia "egg", meatless crumbles), and creative recipes that I love trying out! It's been so fun to experiment with new foods, that going vegan has been so easy. If you're looking for some lunch inspiration, check out yesterday's post!
Make Small Changes
Going full-on vegan can be very intimidating. Meatless Monday was invented for a reason- starting small with going meat-free once a week is a lot easier than saying you'll never eat meat again! There also also so many different versions of going plant-based, from pescatarian (eating fish) to vegetarian (eating eggs and dairy) and everything in between. If you're in some other category, that's fine as well! No one needs a label to describe them. For example, Dan eats completely vegan at home, but if we go out to a restaurant, he'll order whatever he wants. Would that make him a restaurantarian? Who cares!
...Or Go All In
Don't be Afraid to Fail
My final piece of advice can be applied to any major life change you're going through. If you fail- that doesn't make you a failure. You can keep trying! For example, if I accidentally eat something with dairy or eggs in it, I'm not going to consider myself a failure and go back to my old eating ways. Instead, I'll just say that I made a mistake and keep going. Don't let the fear of failing or not being "vegan enough" keep you from trying! Trust me, there are no prizes handed out for the most vegan person out there. It's not a competitions! Or- if you try it out and decide it really isn't for you, that's fine as well. You'll never know until you try :)
What made you choose your current diet?
Do you have any follow-up questions for me?
Are you an abstainer or moderator?
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