Everyone always asks me how do I survive on a vegan diet and how do I maintain it. I went vegetarian for nearly 2 years and I’ve been vegan for over 6 months. It wasn’t easy at the start, but I’m sooo glad that I stuck with it. I’ll never look back. That’s why I want to give you 10 detailed tips on how to go vegan and stick to it.
Obviously everyone has the right to choosing what fuel they put in their body. This post is purely for those who want to know how to go vegan and stick to it.
1. Move past the myths
We’ve always been told through advertising that we need milk for strong bones and meat for energy. I even remember reading my Home economics textbook in class and it said that milk, eggs and meat are part of a healthy balanced diet. Even when I first decided to go vegetarian, people always told me that I wasn’t going to get enough protein and I would become sick.
Only after researching these claims at 21 years old did I realise that none of this is true. We don’t need dairy or meat to get the right amount of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for our bodies.
Let’s take protein for example.
Many animal products are high in calories. Although they have a lot of protein, most of the calories in these animal products come from a high amount of saturated fat (the stuff that causes heart attacks). Even though lean meat doesn’t have much saturated fat, it still has a lot of cholesterol which narrows arteries and can cause strokes when consumed too much.
Plant-based food is lower in calories and its percentage of protein in relation to calories is high. For example, spirulina and broccoli have more protein per calorie than beef. This means that yes, you will have to eat MORE plant-based foods to get a substantial amount of protein, but you won’t be accumulating any of the bad stuff unlike animal products. On top of this, plant-based foods also supply essential amino acids, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
2. Start eating a plant-based diet first
Our bodies are naturally an alkaline environment and become diseased from too much acidity. When we eat low PH acid foods such as red meat, eggs, milk, alcohol, cake, sweets and bread, they don’t align with the body’s natural state and we get sick.
However, when we eat alkaline foods like olive oil, avocado, broccoli, dates, lemon and bananas, they maintain the perfect PH level in the body and give long-lasting health.
Therefore, I recommend eating a plant-based diet first (80% foods derived from plants, 20% animal products) before going vegan. Not only does this set yourself up with the right type of foods that you will need to start eating on a vegan diet, but it also balances out the PH level in the body.
3. Take it slow
Meat has always been considered a luxury.
Over the years, people have become richer and they can afford to eat meat every day. Like with anything though, when we can afford something, we mass consume it. This along with the misconception that we need huge amounts of protein (unless building muscle mass) and clever advertising has actually got people consuming far more meat than they used to.
I was eating meat twice a day before going vegan. I was eating so many animal products that it was physically impossible for me to suddenly go cold turkey the next day.
Instead, I started off by reducing my consumption of meat. Then I started cutting out red meat, then chicken, then fish, then milk and cheese, and lastly eggs.
But I was still eating processed food which contained dairy and eggs. Sometimes that chocolate chip cookie just calls to you and before you know it, the whole pack is gone.
Anyway, it wasn’t until I decided to eat a gluten-free diet that I went fully vegan. With a whole lot of willpower, I cut out biscuits, cake, milk chocolate, bread, pasta, pesto and anything else that contains animal products.
It took me a few months to go vegetarian, and 2 years to go vegan.
If you want to switch to a vegan diet but you think that it’s just too difficult, remember that it takes time for your mindset to shift, your body to adjust and your taste buds to change. Have patience and take it easy.
4. Find like-minded people
The thing that I struggled with most when going vegetarian and then vegan was the isolation. Pretty much everyone I knew made jokes, judged me or openly didn’t support me.
I wasn’t in the right environment.
If you’re looking to go vegan, find like-minded people. That could be at a vegan food festival, vegan cafes or yoga/meditation classes. It obviously helps if they’re vegetarian or vegan because they’re more likely to understand your choice, but they don’t have to be.
As long as you have supportive and open-minded people in your life, it’ll be far easier to make the change.
5. Research for motivation
Dig deeper and find information on veganism. It gives you motivation to stick to your choices.
When I started researching about veganism, I was shocked about the hidden spiritual, environmental and health aspects.
I discovered that animals are caged by the hundreds in tiny disease-ridden spaces, force-fed antibiotics and food, and treated as if they are not living beings at all. They’re slaughtered, and their flesh is sold to consumers covered in chemicals and faecal matter. Even cows are forcibly impregnated to produce milk and then robbed of their babies at birth so that we can drink their milk. The weak babies are usually sledgehammered to death. When I thought about it, I realised that milk is actually baby cow formula and most of the population is lactose intolerant. Also, the FDA admitted that more cows are becoming sick so their milk contains “more pus and bacteria” as well as the drugs used to treat them. Dairy companies are allowed to sell this low quality milk to consumers.
I found out that animal agriculture for meat production is the leading cause ofglobal warming. It’s even the major cause of water wastage, deforestation (especially in the Amazon rainforest) and species extinction.
Also, I learnt that animal products are ridiculously high in cholesterol which blocks arteries. It makes the PH level acidic in the body which promotes disease.
I’ve even read and heard accounts of people who reversed their life-threatening disease with a vegan diet.
Of course, it’s important to research this information for yourself. Here are some links to get started:
6. Come up with recipes
Don’t think that just because your favourite meal has meat in it doesn’t mean that you can make a vegan version.
Food blogs, Pinterest and vegan cookbooks have tons of vegan recipes adapted from your usual meals.
I was blown away by how many delicious meals I could make without animal products. Honestly, I prefer the food that I eat now compared to 2 years ago. Not only does it taste great, but I feel good eating it too.
Here are some vegan blogs which I use for recipes:
7. Make a shopping list
Another difficult thing for me when switching to a vegan diet was resisting the temptation to buy foods which contain animal products.
It became so much easier for me when I started to make a shopping list. It kept me focused on the foods which I could eat, and kept me away from most processed food too.
If you don’t buy it, you can’t be tempted to eat it.
8. Don’t be too hard on yourself
When I was going vegetarian in Barcelona, I went to a steakhouse for my friend’s birthday (bit of a ridiculous sentence to write). Not surprisingly, I slipped up and ate a steak.
Even the other week, I was at a vegetarian restaurant and drank a sip of lassie, which I didn’t realise had milk in it until afterwards.
Whether it’s giving in to eating meat, or eating animal products and then only realising afterwards, don’t feel guilty. It’s normal to make mistakes when moving to a vegan diet.
It’s a huge step to even make the change. Focus on that and feel good about it.
9. Bring snacks wherever you go
Maybe it’s just me, but I love to eat. So much so that I’ve been called a grazer.
When moving to a vegan diet, you need to eat more food in general so it’s a good idea to bring snacks with you in case you get hungry.
Also, we aren’t exactly living in a vegan world yet so there may be limited options wherever you go. I bring snacks with me to make sure that I’m eating healthy food instead of a last resort carton of chips.
To give you an idea, I’ll bring dry salted broad beans or chickpeas, fruit, dried fruit and nut bars like Nakd, seed and nut mix, rice snaps, rice cakes with peanut butter or oat biscuits.
10. Eat enough
Since most plant-based food is low in calories, it means that vegans need to eat more (which I am extremely happy about).
If you’re switching to a vegan diet, give in to your cravings. Don’t let your body starve because you think you’re eating too much. I always say that if the food is raw and healthy, then it doesn’t matter how much you eat.
Make sure to eat enough in every meal, but especially for breakfast. I eat around 600 to 1000 calories alone for breakfast and maybe a bit less for lunch. This sets me up with tons of energy to be productive during the day.
I hope these 10 steps to become vegan and stick to it help. If you have any questions about veganism or the types of food that I eat, please contact me!
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