How do I go vegan? Can you enjoy food if you’re vegan? WHERE DO I EVEN START? Why SHOULD I become a vegan?! If these are some questions you have, or if you’re just a little curious about veganism, you’ve come to the right place! I decided to go vegan almost 2 years ago and I pretty much quite “cold turkey”. The short version of my story is as follows: I was studying in the library with my biochem study group when one of them jokingly handed me a pamphlet. The pamphlet was about cruelty in factory farming and how animals on the farms are treated. The pictures were so graphic. I felt sick to my stomach. Why hadn’t I ever thought about what animals go through from the time they’re born to when they make it to my plate? I’ve always loved animals. Cute baby chicks, tiny piglets, even huge adult cows. I’d always thought of myself as an animal lover and advocated for pitbulls and strays, but never gave farm animals a second thought. I decided to reach out to a vegan athlete I followed on Instagram to ask her what influenced her to become a vegan. She responded to me right away with some resources. I started watching the videos she referred me to and wow. How could I have been so naive for so long? I felt so guilty, so disgusted, so angry. But that is a whole other post for another day!
Since then, I’ve had my ups and downs, times when I made exceptions or mistake, times when I didn’t care as much. Its taken me lots of trial and error but I finally feel like I’m at a great place of balance and I’m really happy with my diet! It takes some time and a lot of research.
So how do you transition from a standard american diet (SA diet or SAD LOL) to a vegan diet?
- Get inspired. Its hard to want to go vegan if you aren’t inspired, especially after eating a SA diet your whole life and thinking of burgers as burgers instead of a dead cow’s body. You may need a little extra inspiration at first which will require hearing and seeing some hard things. Here are some of the best motivators in my opinion:
- Best Speech You Will Ever Hear by Gary Yourofsky: This guy is on the extreme end as far as vegans go but his speech covers everything you need to know and is very convincing. Its what got me to switch to a vegan diet! (YouTube)
- Cowspiracy: my FAVORITE documentary ever. Its so good! It focuses a lot of the environmental impact of a SA diet then gets into the ethics of it. (Netflix)
- Forks Over Knives: This is the documentary that convinced Carlos to reduce his meat intake and cut out pork and red meat (I’m still working on getting him to cut out chicken and turkey… one day!) and its more health than ethics based. (Netflix)
- Earthlings: Have your tissues ready for this one. This film is basically a bunch of investigative clips put together to make a whole movie. It is hard to watch. I think this could convince even the most unfeeling human to have compassion for all animals. It shows clips from factory farms, leather factories, mink farms and more. If you like to torture yourself like I do, this ones for you. Such a great documentary.
- I’ll list some more documentaries at the end of this post.
- Do your research. This part is SO important. When you decide to start a vegan diet people will all of the sudden be really concerned about your diet. I mean really concerned. “OMG where do you get your protein from? Are you anemic??? IS THIS SAFE?” If you ate a cheeseburgers and french fries everyday people would care less than if you ate salads all the time. To answer these questions (not that you have to), you need to know about nutrition on a plant based diet. You also need to do this for your own health! Vegan or not. The longer you are vegan, the more types of vegan diets you will find; raw vegan, junk food vegan, SA diet- vegan version, high carb low fat SOS free vegan, whole foods, the list goes on. This is where you should do your research to find the best diet for you. From my research/ trial and error, a whole foods/ high carb low fat salt/ oil/ sugar limited diet is the most ideal for me, and for humans in general. It might take you a while to enjoy plant foods so that brings us to my next step:
- Start eating vegan. This may seem intimidating but it really isn’t! There are two ways of doing this:
- Mimic your current diet but with vegan products. I did this to start. Its not the healthiest option because it means you are eating a lot of processed foods. For example instead of having chicken nuggets you eat Gardein crispy tenders. Instead of mac and cheese you eat Daiya Deluxe Cheddar Style Cheezy Mac. Slowly over time, you can do research to learn how to eat for nutrition instead of comfort.
- Phase things out one by one. Start with not eating red meat, then pork, then chicken, then fish, then cheese, then any foods with hidden animal product (ex: marshmallows). This is how a lot of people do it. I was too disgusted with the thought of eating another animal’s body to phase out meat so I just stopped eating it altogether. I struggled a lot with cheese and chocolate and it took me a while to completely rid my diet of animal products, but I really think your intention is what matters most. Take your time with it if you need to but always keep in mind where your food is coming from.
- Join communities that can help you with the transition. You can find groups on Meetup.com and Facebook. I’m on a vegan pregnancy and parenting page, a vegan family meal planning page, vegan breastfeeding page, and a Jacksonville vegan/ vegetarian page. Its really important to surround yourself with people who know about eating a vegan diet and why you should do it because a lot of people who don’t eat vegan will not understand and might try to make you change your mind. These groups will empower your decision.
- Find recipes that you enjoy! I recommend using Pinterest, YouTube, cookbooks, and vegan websites. I’m going to give the links to some of my favorite recipe sites below:
- Minimalist Baker– website
- Vegan on the Cheap– cookbook given to me by my best friend Katie
- TheEngine2Diet.com– website with great resources
- Peta– website, they have loads of recipes
- OhSheGlows.com– great website with super healthy recipes
- Ellen Fisher on YouTube- she is so wonderful and warm hearted! She also posts what her vegan babies eat so if you’re a parent she could be really helpful.
- High Carb Hannah on YouTube. rawtillwhenever.com is her website with lots of yummy recipes. She is my favorite resource for vegan recipes! She’s so creative with her recipes and has a very realistic weightloss story, she’s super inspirational but also practical.
- Use veganism in other areas of your life. If you decide to become vegan for ethics this will be mostly for you. For example, you’ll want to stop buying leather goods made from cow’s skin, make up tested on animals, hair care products tested on animals, etc. This has been a more recent transition for me and its taken me A WHILE to find a decent natural, cruelty free shampoo I like. Another way you can use veganism in your life is by increasing your compassion for other humans as well as animals! Veganism really is about compassion and kindness, so even though you may feel some anger after watching the documentaries, its important to remain open minded and remember that you haven’t always been vegan so you are not better than anyone else. Be kind. Be respectful. Share your research with others. Have discussions!
I took pictures of some of my favorite foods to show you how amazing and tasty vegan food can be, while also being healthy and easy to make!
I pretty much eat the same thing all the time to be honest so my weekly menus look like this. Its important to find healthy, delicious, mostly whole food recipes that you enjoy to ensure success. The more whole foods and less processed foods you eat, the cheaper your grocery bill will be. I also take a B12 supplement once a week to make sure I get enough of that vitamin.
I would say Carlos and I eat home cooked meals 90% of the time now when we used to eat out 3-4 times a week. Changing to a plant based diet has really given my food a purpose and introduced me to new spices and dishes I would have never otherwise tried. Now I make homemade chili, dahl, curry, stir fry, pastas, sushi, chips, ice cream, muffins, and more. I’m excited to share some of my favorite recipes in the future! Here are some other great documentaries that have really helped me in my journey to pursuing health and veganism:
- Forks Over Knives
- Food Choices (LOVE this one!!!)
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
- Hungry For Change
- Food Matters
- Crazy Sexy Cancer
- Live and Let Live (yet to watch but its on my list!)
I really hope this helps someone make the change to veganism! If you need some advice or have any questions, please feel free to contact me, I’d be glad to help! Press the “follow” to receive notifications of my new posts so I can share recipes and other vegan tips with you in the future 🙂
See you next week!
“We will never have peace on Earth as long as we have suffering and death on our tables and on our backs.”