Following my post on the new documentary "What the Health" and all the overnight vegans it birthed, I thought it would be cool to give you some tips on making your journey successful:
1. You are approaching it like a diet, and not a lifestyle. Diets do not work, changing the way you think and subsequently act takes time. Changing behavior is hard, we are hardwired to do things the way we have always done them. You ever laugh with a friend who says: "My diet starts tomorrow, while scarfing down pizza?" it's funny because it's silly, and we know it.
2. You think of it as "No Meat" as opposed to "More Plants". Donuts and coffee is a vegetarian breakfast. When you think of it as only going "meatless" you automatically discount the level of knowledge you will have to slowly acquire to add more filling vegetables, root vegetables, grains, nuts and butters to your diet. You then start gaining weight from the easy on the go high carb diet and go back to your meat. At least with a high protein diet, you had more options to keep it lean while feeling full longer, and there goes your vegetarian/vegan dreams.
3. You underestimate how much your palate affects what you choose to eat. We eat for nutrition, but we mostly eat to satiate hunger and satisfy our cravings. You can't succeed in changing your diet if you don't start addressing your cravings. If your mouth still waters for some KFC crispy fried chicken, that's cool but understand that if you don't have your meals planned and ready-to-eat snacks you will end up at that fast food line, or frying some chicken at home. Until you naturally stop craving certain foods, you have to make sure you plan your meals and have snacks on hand to keep hunger at bay. Lots of water also quells hunger pangs and cravings.
4. You have discounted the time, recipe trials and errors, and support it takes to change the way you have eaten all your life. Rome wasn't built in a day and unless you already grew up in a vegan household, you currently have no idea what to shop for to have enough groceries for a week of vegeterianism or veganism. Right now, you know to get some meat, fish poultry and a couple more items for sides and you are good to go. Shopping for meatless meals is a whole other set of behaviors. it's not hard, just different. Start with one meal a week, to one full day, and before you know it you will be a pro!
5. You think of vegetables as sides, while vegetables are now the main event. As meat eaters, we usually think of spinach and green beans as sides, the portion is usually much smaller than the meat, while we only have a limited list of what "sides" are in our memory bank. You can go your entire life only getting you veggies from either peas, spinach, and green peas or carrots, while as a vegetarian or vegan you will have to become familiar with a wider array of vegetables, as you will seek to prepare foods that are filling, as well as injecting diversity in your diet to prevent ever becoming bored. oh yeah, no more "small sides", you will eat plentiful, while feeling light as a feather afterwards!
6. You stress about protein. This can lead you to giving up going vegetarian or vegan because you are sitting there getting stressed about whether you are getting enough protein: If you eat the following: leafy greens, edamame, chickpea, lentils, peas, quinoia, nut butters, and beans, you are fine! if you are really worried, add some vegan protein powder to your green juice or smoothie, although I advocate to stay away from processed anything as much as possible, but once in a blue if you must throw some protein powder in your drink for peace of mind, do it!
Hope these tips come in handy as you are making the shift to a plant-based diet.
In Love, Light and Presence of Mind