I have had a couple requests to write a blog post about veganism and how to transition. I’m honestly so excited that people are interested in this topic!! It makes me so giddy.
I’m going to start this post with some complete honesty: It actually took me a few trials to fully appreciate a plant-based diet and stick with it. My first attempt ended after a couple months when I was literally so stressed out about what I was eating and being around other food. I was working at McDonald’s at the time, and resisting all of the foods I used to it while being around of ALL of the time was so frustrating. McDonald’s FRIES AREN’T EVEN VEGAN. Like what the heck? They add “natural beef flavor” to their fries. But I’m kind of getting off topic here…
Going to the grocery store was always a headache. There were foods that had milk and eggs in them when I thought it was completely unnecessary to put those ingredients in. ended up quitting, but picking up again just a month later. Once I already knew the reasons to go vegan, I couldn’t ignore them when I was eating whatever I wanted. However, I had to quit again because I was going to basic training, and you can’t really nourish yourself in that kind of environment with just fruit and salad. Once I graduated basic and went on to AIT, I still couldn’t really go fully plant-based, because I still wasn’t allowed to keep my own food with me. I did, however, commit to vegetarianism while I was there. I thought it would be a nice transition for when I moved to my first duty station was able to buy my own food and keep it in my room.
As soon as I got to Washington, I went shopping. Everything I bought was vegan and I was so excited to give it another go. And I was doing really well until about a week or two before going into the field. That week was so busy and consisted of going to fast food places with coworkers for quick lunches. So I was eating anything on the menu. And, typically, while I was in the field I had to eat what I could to stay nourished with what they provide out there. The military doesn’t exactly accommodate plant-based diets. Because of my already bad habit of eating whatever from the field, when we got back I continued to eat whatever along with my favorite vegan foods. So I was kind of doing both.
Recently, I was showing a friend some facts about animal agriculture and how much of an impact eating vegan makes, and I honestly felt so guilty for letting my bad habits take control. So I decided to be way more strict about my diet, and I’m honestly so happy with it. I feel so much better throughout the day. I even get super excited over vegan food.
I just wanted to start this post off by making it clear that I am NOT a “perfect” vegan. And if you would like to give a plant-based diet a shot, don’t beat yourself up for slipping up. It’s a huge adjustment, and it takes a lot of patience and intestinal fortitude. But I find it so rewarding. This is why I (try my best) to not judge others for their eating habits. Honestly, even making ONE meal a day vegan can make a HUGE difference. Just by making that conscious decision, you save a life.
I also understand that not everybody has the same view and feelings about animals. Just because I have deep emotional feelings about cows, pigs, etc, doesn’t mean everyone else does. It took me a while to realize that some people don’t consider veganism because the see animals as “just animals”. And that’s okay for them. I have different feelings, and that’s why I try worry about just what’s on MY plate. And I think that’s kind of what separates me from other vegans. Sure, I’ll share some information and facts. But I’m not going to be judgmental and nasty.
Okay, now on to what people have ACTUALLY asked about: the transition.
So it’s really easy to get excited and just jump right in 100%, but that only really works for some people. Others need to take it slow, one step at a time. If this is you, I suggest you cut out meat first. If you want even smaller steps than that, start with red meat (its literally the WORST for your body). Then cut out poultry, then fish.
But where would I get my protein?
You can eat plants and still get the same amount of protein as you’d get from eating meat. It’s all about portions and research. Most people eat bigger portions of meat than they’re supposed to, causing your body to consume TOO much protein (yes, that is a thing).
That link will take you to a website that explains the top plant-based protein sources, and it even gives you different ways you can incorporate these sources into your meals everyday. And it’s actually quite amazing how much protein you can get from plants (for example, 1 cup of lentils has 18g of protein!!!)
There are also mock meat products you can buy, and I personally love these options. Gardein is one of the BEST brands out there. They have so many options from “chicken” tenders to “fish” filets, and even “beef” crumbles. Whole Foods is a great place to grab these, and they even have other brands that offer things that Gardein doesn’t. Like breakfast burritos and realistic burgers.
After you feel comfortable with that, then cut out dairy and eggs. This part is what people seem to have the most problems with, but it’s actually pretty awesome how far veganism has come with making dairy alternatives!
Of course, everyone is pretty familiar with milk alternatives like almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, etc. But there are other dairy products that have cruelty free options, like butter, eggs, and cheese! I use Earth Balance butter, and it tastes like actual butter. There are vegan egg products (those take a little bit of playing with to satisfy your personal taste). Chao is a great cheese brand, along with Follow Your Heart (which also makes wonderful vegan salad dressings). Daiya for me has been a hit or miss, but their pizza and Mac and cheese are delicious! So Delicious makes fabulous yogurt and ice cream. They also make coffee creamer!
This is only the tip of the iceberg. Once you do more research and visit more stores, you’ll find the things you prefer and love. I also recommend going out and getting a couple vegan cookbooks! Nothing beats a homemade vegan meal, and it’s always awesome seeing the look on visitors’ faces when they taste how delicious it is. You can also go on Pinterest and find some recipes (I just find follow a book a little easier).
Sometimes you need motivation to keep doing it. I have a few reasons: I’m able to lose and maintain my weight way easier on a plant-based diet, my body in general feels cleaner, I’m making a huge impact on the environment, and, of course, the animals.
If animals are your motivation, I recommend you watching ‘Earthlings” on Netflix. If the environment is your reason, watch “Cowspiracy”. If health is why you do it, watch “Forks Over Knives”. All of these are on Netflix. You can also do more research online and from books, just make sure the sources are credible. There are vegan-activists out there that will lie and scare people. That’s not the message we should be sending. I, for one, cannot stand PETA.
Checking labels can be frustrating. I use the “Is It Vegan” app! You can scan the bar code of the product and it checks (to the best of it’s ability) the ingredients to see if it’s a vegan product. I also use the Leaping Bunny app to check out products that are vegan and not tested on animals.
I hope this helps some of you! I haven’t been a vegan for super long, so I don’t really have a lot to say. But I love steering people in the right direction.
There is so much compassion behind veganism, and I would love to share it with as many people as I can!
❤️❤️ Keera ❤️❤️