Friday, June 9, 2017

How to go Vegan? 10 Tips for our plant based curious friends

 Ever since switching to a plant based diet we seem to be the point of contact to curious family members, our circle of friends and co-workers on how to transition to a plant based diet.  I wanted to share a few tips that I wish I knew then, things we have learned, as well as some of the recommendations we make to our plant based curious friends.  HERE WE GO!!
Identify your why.  

Why is this lifestyle change important to you.  Is it coming from a health perspective, ethics, world hunger, weight loss?  WHY?  Identifying your why will help you understand and decide whether this is a temporary lifestyle change or a long term lifestyle commitment.

Get Educated.

Once you have identified your WHY, get educatedDo your research!  This lifestyle change will raise a lot of questions.  Those around you will get curious or concerned and will often come up with a "rapid fire"set of questions that you need to be prepare to answer.  Where do you get protein from?  What about B12 deficiency?  Answer their questions, be confident in your answers and do not take anything personally.  It is important to remember that your lifestyle change was a personal decision. People who love you and value your presence will respect your decision.  However, not everyone around you will, so be prepared to receive criticism. (Scroll to the end for some educational resources we recommend.)

Start Small.
While you are busy researching this awesome lifestyle, start with small changes.  Start out with incorporating more plant based meals into your week.  Every small change you make today will benefit you tomorrow.  You might actually find that you prefer almond milk over animal derived milk.  Dark chocolate better than milk chocolate, etc.

Avoid diet trends.

Do not over complicate your meals.  We always recommend alternatives to the foods our friends love to eat.  Other than educating your self, this is hands down my favorite tip.  There is so much information out there in terms of what a proper vegan diet should look like.  Diets such as high carb-low fat, potato diet, and raw-to-4 seem to be very popular and trendy in most social media vegan outlets. From our experience these diets are not effective when trying to convert an entire family into a more plant based diet.  Keeping meals as familiar to us as possible, made our transition to a plant based diet very smoothly.  

 Mostly Whole.

By far the most common complaint I hear is that veganism is too expensive.  Truthfully, plant based meat replacements can be expensive.  I would recommend incorporating more whole foods recipes in to your weekly menu.   For example if you have a taco night, research recipes that use lentils or tofu instead of the expensive meat replacement. If you love having a burger night find a bean burger recipe instead of buying the store veggie option.  Besides of being a complete source of protein when combined, rice and beans are the cheapest foods on the planet. Remember that plant based meat replacements are processed foods.  Try to limit the amount of processed foods in your diet. 

Spice it up.

Spices are key.  I have to admit that the idea of consuming tofu was rough, primarily because I did not know what to do with it.  It looked very intimidating and not very appetizing.  But here is the thing, when was the last time you opened up a pack of chicken and ate it while grocery shopping because you could not contain yourself?  Would you ever have animal protein without any seasoning or marinade?  I don't think so.  Load up with spices and season your dang food.

Let's get Social.
Social gatherings can be tough but they don't have to be.  We love to bring our favorite plant based dishes to BBQ's.  Be prepared!  Bring a couple of your favorite dishes and make enough to share the love.

Eating Out.

 Restaurant meals can easily be made vegan.  Research plant based friendly restaurants in your area. We love the Happy Cow app because it contains so many recommendations for restaurants in our local area and around the world.  It is a life saver when traveling.  However, you can pretty much find a vegetarian option in most restaurant menus.  Do not be afraid to make substitutions, I often say that I am severely allergic to honey, milk, eggs and butter.  Works like a charm!

Do not stress out.

Do not sweat the small stuff.  You will make mistakes.  At some point during your transition you will go out to eat or forget to check food labels and eat something that contains butter, honey, egg or milk. Move on, do not beat your self over it! 

Chill vegan, chill.

When you reach a comfortable stage in this lifestyle, keep it cool and avoid becoming a militant vegan. Remember you did not always ate this way. Educate whenever possible however, do not make your diet the topic of every conversation.  This turns people off.  Be patient and appreciate those who try to accommodate your lifestyle as they will make mistakes.  Remember you are the one that changed, and they need time to adjust.

Resources we recommend:

Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death

Best Speech You Will Ever Hear - Gary Yourofsky

101 Reasons To Go Vegan 

Speciesism: The Movie 

Why Vegetarians Should Go Vegan 

 Complete Guide To Vegan Food

On Netflix:
Forks over Knives
Pure Plant Nation