Part of the reason I have started this blog is to share my experience on how I became vegan. It was, like everything else in life, a process. For me it was a gradual move towards eating more whole foods that spurred my decision to go vegan. One day I came home from a particularity boring day at work (where I may have been food blog browsing…sorry boss!) and decided to make my own pesto (I wasn’t yet vegan). A relatively easy thing to make, was the start of my realization that I can make stuff that tastes good and is good for me! I’m not the best cook, so this was really exciting for me. After my pesto successo, I decided to try making a wonderful home style Sunday night dinner for Lincoln and I. I found a recipe on my now fave vegan blog, and boom, another success! This is how it started for me. I wanted to learn how to cook healthy food, and improve both my mad kitchen skillz, and our health along the way.
Anyways, the point that I’m trying to get across is that making small changes in your diet overtime can lead to one big change overall. Just don’t get overwhelmed by changing everything at once.
Here is my top 5 list of small changes you can make on the road to becoming vegan.
1. Switch from dairy milk to a milk substitute.
The first milk substitute that I found that I loved is Silk True Almond Unsweetened Vanilla. Almond milk is amazing for you! Here are some quick facts about why you should switch:
1) Unsweetened Almond milk has LESS SUGAR THAN MILK!!!! WTF! I had no idea how much sugar was in skim milk.
2) Almond milk has MORE CALCIUM THAN MILK!!!! again, WTF! When I saw this I almost fell over. The dairy industry doesn’t want you to know this, and spends millions on trying to tell you that milk and cheese are the best way to get your calcium. We are talking a significant difference at 12% RDI (recommended daily intake) for skim milk, vs. 30% RDI for almond milk!
3) Because Almond milk is fortified there are more daily nutrients in it than skim milk. These include: more B12, more Vitaman A, more vitamin D, iron and zinc!
There are so many different types of milk substitutes to try I’d say keep trying them until you find you like. My other piece of advice is, don’t expect it to taste like milk 🙂 .
2)Try Meatless Mondays
Start with being vegan just one day a week. By doing this you can slowly develop a recipe repertoire that will be a go to in the future. It will also help to ease the transition from having a typical meat, veggies and starch dinner that so many of us grew up eating.
3) Get Informed to Get Motivated
I watched a few documentaries and read a few books about being vegan just before and during the first month of becoming vegan. I try to stay away from anything too graphic about factory farming but the small part I did see on Vegucated (on Netflicks, I highly recommend this) has been more than enough to keep reminding me how factory farm animals are abused. Here are a few facts that I think of often:
1) Pigs are the 4th smartest animal
2) Dairy cows need to give birth to make milk (just like people), their baby’s are taken from them at the moment of birth and then either turned into veal, or leather.
3) Most cow’s milk is full of puss and blood. The over milking of cows causes infection in the udders.
4) Roasted Chickens that you buy at the grocery store are usually young chickens that have been pumped full of hormones causing them to grow too quickly. Most of them cannot walk due to their extremely fast growth.
5) Egg laying hens have their beaks cut off and live their entire lives in cramped and unacceptable conditions. Read up on what the terms “free range”, “cage free” and “organic” really mean.
4)Try a New Protein Source
Many cultures get protein from legumes and beans as their primary source. Most of these cultures also have a lower rate of obesity and heart disease. Lentils are an amazing protein source, are easy to cook and are really versatile. Quinoa is one of my go to’s. I also use Vega One Nutritional Shake protein powder in my smoothie every morning, just to make sure that I’m getting what I need. If you do decided to use a protein powder just make sure that it’s from a plant based source….otherwise that’s NOT vegan.
5) Change Your Mindset
By focusing on trying new things and what you can have, rather than thinking about what you can’t makes the biggest difference in the enjoyment of a new way of eating. If you are the cook in the family, just whip up a tasty vegan dinner (without mentioning that it’s vegan), put it on the table and see how they react. You might be surprised at how open people will be if they don’t have any preconceptions. I do most of the cooking in my house, and Lincoln is usually pretty happy with what he eats. If he wants to eat meat, the deal is that he has to buy it and cook it himself. I don’t judge, but I don’t participate in animal cruelty either (ok, maybe that sounds kinda judgy…). That’s his choice to make, and not mine.
Hopefully these little changes will help anyone that’s trying to make the transition into eating a plant based diet. This fun infogram from PETA is a great source for where you can get nutrients from.