Want to go Vegan/Vegetarian but don’t know how?? Allow me to assist!
Let me be the first to say welcome! I’m here to let you know that eliminating meat from your diet is not as hard as you think. Sure, there is temptation in the world & society makes it difficult sometimes. But this lifestyle change is what you make it.
Not everyone will explore vegetarianism with you. Of course it would be easier if you were not alone. But, hey, all things possible with will power & determination! I’ve been in your shoes before. I was raised eating meat and most people in my family don’t understand why I gave it up. REMEMBER WHY YOU DECIDED TO MAKE THIS LIFESTYLE CHANGE. Focus on that. You’ll be fine. Trust me.
1. Take your time… or don’t
I’ve heard stories about people going vegan or vegetarian overnight. That’s great! However, not everyone can do that. Including me! Sometimes, a slow transition is more viable than a quick one. If the idea of going completely plant based feels intimidating, you are not alone! Start with a one day a week, like a Meatless Monday challenge. Or if an entire day is too much try eliminating meat from one of your daily meals. You might be surprised at how easy it actually is.
When I finally decided “this is the day”, I removed all animal products from my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets then donated them! Everyone I knew ate meat so i just gave them away. Also, if you are one of those choosing to go vegan or vegetarian overnight do this!
2. Your grocery list will look different & so will your lanes
A shopping list is important. Not only for those of us on a budget but also the ones who want to meal prep. You will spend most of your time in the produce section then you will eventually venture inside to the rice, pasta and bread section, too. If you haven’t read labels before, this will change your perspective on processed food. There are so many hidden ingredients in food on the shelves, it’s scary. Luckily most labels say “contains milk” or “contains eggs” so it will make it easier while shopping.
Maybe your grocery store will change too. I prefer shopping for most of my produce at the Produce Store. YOU WILL SAVE MONEY doing this. Then I go to Trader Joe’s for the rest. Maybe the produce store didn’t have a certain veggie, so I grab it from Traders. I also grab gluten-free pastas, almond beverage, rice, quinoa, oats, almond butter, nuts, etc.
Note: Carbs are not scary! Chose the right ones (brown rice, gluten free bread and pasta, quinoa, millet). So many people think “lean meat” and veggies are the way to go. To each his own. No judgement here! But remember, having starches will give you energy and keep you full.
3. Search for Recipes & Follow plant based bloggers/foodies on social media
Instagram is great place to find anything you are interested in- food included! So many people post free recipes, pictures and videos of their meals. If you follow plant based pages, it will help you. Perhaps unfollowing a few on your list will also help! I look at Instagram as a magazine. When I scroll through, I choose the content I want to see.
Did you pin a bunch of plant based recipes to your Pinterest board or google a bunch of plant based recipes to try? Write those ingredients down! Odds are if you need 1 garlic clove for a recipe, you will use the rest of the clove in another recipe, so don’t worry about it going to waste (Don’t forget to add the ingredients to your grocery list- see number 2).
Have left over zucchini from a recipe you made? Google another zucchini recipe! Already cooked the zucchini? Toss in a wrap or a sandwich! Too many greens? Make a green smoothie or prep a bunch of smoothies for the week.
Notice when veggies are starting to go bad in the fridge and before they do, look up a recipe with that ingredient! On my blog, (www.oliveforgreens.com) scroll down from any page and find the search bar. Type the ingredient in and see if I have a recipe for it! If I don’t, e-mail me or contact me via Instagram or Facebook (oliveforgreens or Olivia Lydia). I will gladly help you out.
4. Find Meat and Cheese alternatives
We are fortune to live in a time where alternative cheese and meat products is a thing! So many brands out there are waiting to help you out- Morning Star Farms, Tofurky, Trader Joe’s also has a few meat alternative. As far as cheese is concerned, you can try Daiya or Follow your Heart (one of my favs!). Occasionally, I buy Morning Star Vegan Breakfast Sausage or bacon or veggie burgers. It is still plant based and it will help you along your journey.
To go the less processed route, you can make your own veggie meats and cheese. DIY cheese?! Yes! Vegan cream sauces are the easiest! You will not miss mac and cheese when you go vegan (click here for a stove top version). Same goes for veggie meats. Again, google and Pinterest are just a click away.
5. Get it out of your head that you need to see a starch, a vegetable and a piece of meat on your plate
Yes, your plate will look different. And that’s okay! For years we are trained to think that a starch, a vegetable and a piece of meat complete your meal. Not true. There is nothing wrong with quinoa, sweet potato and sautéed kale on the plate. Nothing is “missing”. Get it out of your head that you need to see a starch, a vegetable and a piece of meat on your plate.
I strongly recommend having a salad before lunch and dinner. Think of it as additional nutrition and also it will keep you full!
6. Do research
Before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based nutrition. Remember at some point in your journey, someone will ask “Where you get your protein?” You could ignore the question but it’s better to have a confident answer. Remember ALL PLANT HAVE PROTEIN. You will get plenty of it so don’t worry. Also, watching documentaries (most of us have Netflix!) will be a great way to get started.
Note: If you are worried about protein or workout a lot & want extra protein, I recommend Garden of Life Protein Powder. In reality, you will get MORE nutrition from this diet change than you ever had.
7. You will not ONLY eat fruits & vegetables
You will get asked this 101 times a week: “So what do you eat? Vegetables?” It is usually followed with a smile or laugh. When I say, “Yes, vegetables…and rice, quinoa, tempeh, pasta, pizza, tacos, fries, you name it!” Their jaws drop. YOU WILL HAVE TO EAT YOUR GREENS to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But that’s a fraction of your diet. Remind yourself that all of your favorite foods will be there they will just be modified. Speaking of…
8. Learn how to make your favorite meals, meatless
Going vegetarian opened my eyes to a whole new world of food. I started experimenting with ingredients and cuisines I had never considered before. I pretty much had to learn how to cook all over again. Start with what you know and love! Perhaps it’s mac and cheese, pizza, spaghetti or tacos. Anything can be transformed into to a delicious plant based dish! There are plenty of meat alternative brands out there to help get you started (see number 4).
9. Ignore the naysayer
Some people will suddenly become angry when they find out you don’t eat meat. Some will even be offended. It’s bizarre. They will say things like “I will never give up meat! You’re crazy!” or “I may as well eat meat and die happy.” I can’t even count the times. Remember to stay positive and respect other people’s opinions- even when they won’t respect yours. Think about it, most people get upset because there’s something internal going on with themselves. Just smile and say, “I feel good eating this way”.
10. Don’t give up
Yes, you will experience side effects. Some may even seem negative (gas, bloating, fatigue, etc.) But these are only temporary! After a few days or weeks, the negative side effects will turn into positive side effects. This will not happen to everyone. We are all different!
If you’re having issues with friends or family, don’t give up. There is support out there. You can even send me questions (firstname.lastname@example.org) for help along the way. Take it one day at a time and don’t be upset with yourself if you slip up. So you went to a family function and accidentally (or purposely) ate chicken. Don’t beat yourself up! Start again with your next meal. No big deal.
It’s a lifestyle change, a new habit you are creating. Your body will thank you with all of the positive changes to come. The best piece of advice someone gave me was “People are going to do what they want to do. Just focus on how you feel” –Kimberly Snyder.
Thank you so much for reading & Good luck on your journey! -Olivia Lydia