Monday, October 24, 2016

When I first adopted a vegan diet nearly four years ago I remember feeling incredibly alone, misunderstood, and disconnected from my closest family and friends.  How were the people that I loved, good people, knowingly contributing to such suffering and violence?  I struggled to not let these feelings affect my daily interactions and relationships.  I didn't know any one else who shared my new beliefs about what should and should not be considered food, it was not a good feeling.  

I was without a doubt certain that I no longer wanted to consume animal products, but I had no clue if I was getting proper nutrients, what to order at restaurants and how to make healthy vegan meals at home.  If I remember correctly, for the first six months or so being vegan I ate nothing but smoothies, salads and bean and avocado tacos!

The good news is BEING VEGAN IS EASY!  I promise! Here are some things I wish someone would have shared with me in my first few months.


- Don't make vegan difficult-  Focus on all of the foods you can eat instead of the food you no longer want to eat.  Your favorite foods pre veganism can still be your favorite foods as a vegan! I still eat pizza, nachos, macaroni and cheese, pancakes etc.  There has never been an easier time to be vegan!  Take advantage of all the amazing substitutes, and don't be afraid to play around in your kitchen "veganizing" recipes!

- Eat fresh fruits and veggies!  Most people assume that a vegan diet (not a fan of this word) is healthy, the reality is I could eat Lays potato chips, Sour Patch Kids and pasta everyday and still be vegan, but I would feel like shit!  I eat a massive amount of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, an easy way to do that is to carry them with you to snack on during the day.  My favorites are apples, carrots, red pepper, sugar snap peas and Persian cucumbers.   

-Eat protein rich foods.  Any modification to your diet is difficult, especially if you are feeling hungry or unsatisfied.  Foods like quinoa, broccoli, nuts and nut butters, spinach, green beans, chickpeas, beans, lentils, oatmeal, pumpkin and chia seeds are filling / protein rich foods.  Almond butter, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and oatmeal are great additions to your morning smoothies for added calories, fat and protein.  Adding chickpeas and quinoa to your salad will keep you fuller longer than veggies alone.  Keep quinoa, canned beans and frozen veggies on hand, if you're in need of a quick easy meal these ingredients topped with avocado make a delicious, satisfying bowl.

-Meet like minded individuals. The first year of my journey, I did not know another soul that was vegan.  Through searching for recipes, cruelty free products, etc I discovered a huge community of compassionate people via social media.  Join Facebook Vegan groups, or search hashtags; #vegan, #vegancommunity #vegan(yourcity) on Instagram to find vegans to connect with virtually or use if you're looking to connect with people face-to-face.  It is incredibly beneficial to have a conversation (in person or through social media) with someone who gets you and your passion.  I also think it is equally important to not withdraw from the nonvegans in your life.  When I realized the disgusting truth about meat and dairy, I expected that once I told friends and family they would make the change with me; however, that might not be the case.  Understand, that we all digest information at different rates, and all you can do is continue to educate them and hope that they will begin to share your feelings.

-Be informed. When I first went vegan, I didn't really have a clear answer of why I did so, I just knew that eating animals and their products felt wrong.  When people expressed interested or asked questions about my new lifestyle I always felt stumped and didn't know how to answer their questions. Having casual conversations with those around us can open their eyes to the horrors of factory farming, the effects meat eating has on our environment and our health.  Here are a few of the informative books and documentaries I read / watched when I was starting out :


Food Inc.
Forks over Knives

-Bring your own food to gatherings.  If you are unsure if there will be vegan options for you at a party or gathering, bring your own dish or two.  Being hungry while surrounded by food you no longer want to eat is not fun.  Bringing your own dish is also a great way to show people how delicious vegan food is. Pinterest is my favorite resource for recipes.

-Be proud of yourself! You have made an amazing decision to live in a way that creates the least amount of harm, be proud! Your choices are making a positive impact for your health, the animals, and our planets health.

I hope these tips help you as are starting out on your vegan journey.  Let me know ( if you've faced any obstacles since going vegan, I'd love to help you make the transition easier!

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