Were you one of those people who kinda, sorta made a half-ass New Years resolution to “get healthy” this year? Well you’re not alone. 68% of people make a resolution to get healthy every January, but less than half those people maintain their resolution throughout the year.
The most efficient and beneficial way to maintain a healthy lifestyle in my opinion is by going vegan, and every year thousands of people jump on the vegan bandwagon!
Switching to a vegan diet may sound daunting and you may be overwhelmed at first, but making the switch is a lot easier than you think. And there are many tips and tricks to help make the transition into a healthy, happy, plant-based lifestyle a smooth one.
1. Be open minded.
If you start your vegan lifestyle with a negative, closed mind, it’s never going to last. Rather than thinking of all the foods you can’t have, focus on the fresh, whole foods you can have. Besides, you don’t need to “give up” any of your favourite foods when switching to a plant-based diet; you just need to make a few ingredient adjustments!
2. Shop the OUTSIDE of the grocery store first.
You’ve probably heard this one before, it’s a tip used by health professionals everywhere. That’s because the outskirt of the grocery store is where you’ll find all your fresh produce. Be sure to stock up on your favourite fresh fruits and vegetables before making your way to the centre aisles.
3. Carb the fuck up.
Pardon my French, but consuming enough carbs is vital to your success on a vegan diet. The majority of people who complain they feel “hungry” or aren’t satisfied on a vegan diet are undercarbed. Your body and brain require carbohydrates to function at an optimal level, so if you’re feeling hungry, it’s your body’s way of asking you for more carbohydrates, don’t ignore it! Don’t be afraid to eat carbs either. Despite what the mainstream media tells you, CARBS DO NOT MAKE YOU FAT, it’s the oils and dressings you add to those carbs that make you fat.
4. Learn to read the labels.
On a vegan diet you do need to pay a little bit more attention to what’s actually in the foods that you buy. Make sure you’re reading more than just nutrition facts on cereal boxes! A lot of packages foods including cereals, granola bars, pasta, pasta sauces, and even spices can sneak in animal products into their foods. You’d be surprised by the amount of products that seem vegan but actually contain dairy products. When you’re buying your packaged foods just take a quick second to check the ingredient list!
5. You can use allergy as an excuse.
This is a bit of a sketchy tip, but I’ve used it a few times and had success and I always recommend it to people just switching to a vegan diet who might be a little “embarrassed” by it. When ordering food at restaurants find a dish you like that you 100% know is vegetarian, so it doesn’t contain meat. If you’re unsure about it containing eggs or milk, tell your server you have a dairy allergy. They’ll make sure your dish comes out vegan without even realizing it. (I know people who actually have allergies may find this offensive, and I am definitely not trying to discredit an actual medically diagnosed allergy, it’s a tip I would use very sparsely.)
6. Find a milk substitute you enjoy.
With all the dairy free milk options on the market, I wonder why anyone is still drinking cow’s milk anyway. Experiment with almond milk, cashew milk, soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, etc. until you find one you love. I find people have the hardest time with milk when they first switch, so make this a priority right away!
7. Use meat and dairy free options when you need.
You should by no means rely on dairy free pizza or meatless chicken nuggets on your vegan diet, but you can use them as transition foods when you’re first making the switch. As I said earlier in this article, there is no reason to give up your favourite foods when switching to a vegan diet. You can definitely still enjoy bacon, just grab the meat free kind and be sure you’re not eating it every day.
8. Master cooking tofu.
Seriously. It took me forever to perfect tofu cooking, but once you finally do it is absolutely life changing. Tofu doesn’t have a taste; it tastes like whatever you season it with, so stock up on your favourite spices. The hard part of cooking tofu is getting the texture right, especially if you’re picky about that sort of thing. In the beginning you might be eating some spongy or dry tofu, it’s all trial and error, but trust me once you get it it’s so worth all the mishaps.
9. Keep vegan snacks on hand.
Fruit, hummus, nuts, certain granola bars. Always keep a few snacks on hand whether you’re at work, school, or home, just in case the cravings hit! Being prepare will prevent you from giving into temptation.
10. Surround yourself with supportive people.
You definitely don’t need to drop all your meat eating friends, but if they’re constantly making fun of your new lifestyle or trying to convert you back, maybe take a step back and revaluate the friendship. When making this change you’re going to want to surround yourself with people who love and support you and are going to encourage you, not make you feel horrible for making the change.
11. Be patient and forgive yourself.
You’re bound to mess up at least once on this journey, that’s fine. Forgive yourself and get back on track, don’t let one mistake ruin your new lifestyle! It’s important to be patient with yourself when making a big change like this.