Plant-based diets have become a buzzword. More and more people are ditching animal products to eat a delicious diet of fruit, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. As a matter of fact, you probably know someone in your circle of friends or even a celebrity or two who have gone vegan. And why wouldn’t you? The benefits are plenty. However, when it comes to transitioning, most people don’t know where to begin, they get intimidated, and end up giving up before they even start. But there is no need for it to be complicated.
DETERMINE YOUR WHY
Determining the reason you want to transition in the first place is the first step to a successful transition. Without knowing your ‘why’, you are most likely to not stick with it and bounce back to eating animal products.
People go plant-based for many different reasons, but most fall under three categories: for the betterment of their health, to have less of an impact on the environment, and for animal welfare. By watching documentaries such as Earthlings, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Dominion, The Game Changers, and What the Health, you will learn more about the topic and formulate your own ‘why’ before beginning your transitioning phase.
PICK YOUR PACE
Before beginning, decide the pace in which you wish to transition. Besides going cold-turkey (no pun intended), there are many other ways to make your transitioning phase as painless and as slow as you desire.
One animal at a time
You can first begin by omitting beef, chicken, fish, and lastly any animal byproducts such as cheese, milk, and eggs.
One meal at a time
First start off by veganizing your breakfasts, then maybe a month later your lunch, then your dinner, followed by drinks and snacks.
One day at a time
Most people are familiar with Meatless Mondays – one day of the week when no meat is consumed. You can utilize this strategy and designate 2-3 days out of the week to only eat vegan meals and, with time, increase the number of days all the way up to 7.
PREPARE FOR SUCCESS
The first thing you should focus on is giving your pantry and fridge a makeover. To do this, get rid of all the animal products and byproducts in your fridge and non-perishables in your pantry. To avoid food waste, you can donate them to food shelters in your area.
Next, get familiar with all of the vegan alternatives at your grocery store and start stocking up. Your new staples will become fruit, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and herbs and spices. The options are truly endless!
Then, begin exploring different blogs, Youtube channels, and vegan cookbooks to start experimenting with new recipes. If you happen to have a limited amount of time to dedicate to cooking, explore ways to batch cook and meal prep so that you only have to cook once or twice a week and have meals for the entire 7 days. There is definitely a learning curve when it comes to transitioning to a completely new way of eating, but have fun with it and you will be mind-blown at some of the delicious vegan meals you can create.
HAVE FUN WITH IT & ENJOY!
Explore your local restaurant scene by trying out restaurants that have vegan options. Pay a visit to some ethnic restaurants which usually have many vegan options (such as Mexican, Middle Eastern, Ethiopian, Asian, etc). I also suggest you download the HappyCow app or visit happycow.net, where you will find listings of places with vegan and vegetarian options, as well as health stores based on your current location. As someone who travels often, this app has helped me come across some of the best vegan restaurants in the world.
And lastly, join local vegan meetups and start attending vegan events such as Vegfests in your area. Not only will you get to experience amazing food, but you will also build a great new support system of friends that can encourage you in your transitioning phase, answer any questions you may have, and of course, share a meal with you.
Lorena Fiama is a holistic health coach passionate about helping women lose weight and increase their energy by transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle. She currently lives in New Jersey with her dog and boyfriend. She offers online coaching to those interested. To find out more and have access to more resources, visit www.lorenafiama.com.