Want To Go Vegan? Start Here.
Veganism /VEE-gə-niz-əm/ : a lifestyle abstaining from the use or consumption of animal products and other animal-derived substances
1. Decide WHY?
Is it for the planet, health, fitness, or animals? If you know why you're starting, it's a helpful reminder if you're tempted to stray.
- P L A N E T : A vegan diet is better for the planet. It requires significantly less resources like water and land to grow crops than meat and dairy . Animal products are also the largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the world, more than the entire transportation industry . Going vegan is the number one way to fight global warming . It has a greater impact than driving a hybrid car or taking shorter showers. Vegans have less than half of the carbon dioxide footprint (1.5 tons CO2) than carnivores (3.3 tons CO2) . It's amazing to know that with each meal you can help save the planet.
- H E A L T H : Cholesterol exists only in animal products and contributes to the #1 cause of death in America: heart disease . Growing up, I was afraid of dying in a car accident not sitting in line for a Happy Meal. Plant based diets are completely free of cholesterol. A vegan lifestyle is the best way to prevent, treat, or reverse heart disease . It also lowers the risk of obesity and major common illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer . You'll have healthier skin, a better digestive system, and more energy. It helped me and it can help you too.
- F I T N E S S : Eating vegan makes fitness goals easier to reach and results last longer. It's lower in calories, fat, and saturated fat, ideal for weight loss . I weigh 15 lbs less than before. As a meat and dairy eater, I worked out more and restricted my diet heavily to have results. Now, I don't count my calories but I look and feel better than ever. High protein, plant based diets are clean and perfect for men and women who want to build muscle. You can have major gains with the right meal plan.
- A N I M A L S : Animals are friends not food. As a kid, I thought animals died of natural causes and then we eat them. I lost faith in humanity when I learned we slaughter them instead. My dad said I needed to eat animals to survive so I did. In college, I learned he was wrong and finally ditched meat and dairy (my dad is mostly vegan now for health benefits). Livestock is mass produced, sick and unhealthy. Cows are fed grains they can't digest instead of grass because it's cheaper and fattens them up . It's a heavy economic incentive for the farmer at our cost. They're ill and constantly pumped with antibiotics to survive . Dairy cows are raped and forced to have offspring so they produce milk. Female calves become dairy cows while males are killed and sold for veal. Most livestock spends their entire lives confined in cages and live drastically shorter lives on farms than in nature . Animals are sentient beings with feelings like humans. They love, care for each other, and mourn for lost ones. Fishing is also worse than it sounds. 40% of all sea animals caught for human consumption are marine animals we don't eat like dolphins, whales, and seals that are killed in the process so people can buy tuna or other fish . There's a lot going on behind the scenes. If you're interested, read or watch films.
The best part is you can still eat all of your favorite foods (in a vegan version).
Do you want to transition to a vegan lifestyle all at once or step-by-step? Giving up meat and dairy overnight if it's all you know is difficult without major discipline and guidance. It's possible but I couldn't do it. I knew nothing about #whatveganseat five years ago when I started. I tried and failed. I recommend a gradual transition so your taste buds have time to adjust to the new palate. When you give something up, replace it with a vegan alternative. Here's my 12 week program to becoming fully plant based:
- W E E K # 1: Stop eating beef - instead try Veggie Burgers, Seitan, or Beefless Tips.
- W E E K # 2: Stop eating pork - my favorite substitutes are Vegan Pulled Pork, Veggie Bacon, and Breakfast Sausage.
- W E E K # 3: Stop eating chicken - try Shredded Chicken (with or without the sauce), Orange Chicken, and Chicken Nuggets.
- W E E K # 4: Stop eating ham and turkey - make sandwiches with Veggie Ham, Oven Roasted or Hickory Smoked Turkey. For the holidays, try this Ham Roll or Turkey Roast With Stuffing.
- YOU'RE PESCATARIAN - CONGRATS!
- W E E K # 5: Stop eating fish - try Vegan Fish Fillets, Shrimp, or Tuna.
- YOU'RE VEGETARIAN - YAY!
- W E E K # 6: Stop drinking milk - replace with Vanilla Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, or Cashew Milk until you find your preference. Replace your creamer with a vegan one.
- W E E K # 7: Stop eating cheese - try Vegan Shredded Cheese, Chao Cheese, or Mac N Cheese.
- W E E K # 8: Stop eating yogurt - start eating vegan yogurt made from Soy, Cashews, or Almonds. Frozen yogurt places usually offer a vegan option, make sure you know which toppings are vegan.
- W E E K # 9: Stop eating butter, mayo, and dressing - buy Vegan Butter, Vegan Mayo, and Salad Dressing.
- W E E K # 1 0: Stop eating eggs - use Vegan Egg or scramble tofu.
- W E E K # 1 1: Stop eating ice cream - this was the hardest for me so I saved it for last. Try Cashew Milk Ice Cream, Almond Milk Ice Cream, or Coconut Ice Cream.
- W E E K # 1 2: Stop eating gelatin and animal byproducts.
- YOU'RE OFFICIALLY VEGAN - HOME RUN!!!
- YOU'RE OFFICIALLY VEGAN - HOME RUN!!!
3. Make a Grocery Shopping List.
It's important to know what to buy and how to read an ingredient label to make sure it doesn't contain animal sources.
4. Follow Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to stay motivated and remember why you started.
This is extremely helpful when I'm tempted to cheat because my family is eating pizza or ice cream. I scroll through my favorite social media accounts to stay strong and avoid the urge. It's also a great way to find recipes, restaurants, and meal ideas.
5. Watch These Films
6. Read These Books
Comment below if you have any questions about starting your own vegan journey.
THANKS FOR READING!