Eating healthier and cruelty-free is a worthwhile dietary goal, but it’s not an easy change to make. A sudden and unplanned overhaul of your daily meals can leave you hungry, frustrated and craving meat. Before diving into your vegan renaissance, make sure you follow these three pillars of a successful conversion.
Changing what you’ve been eating every day for decades will be harder than it seems at first, and it’s easy to become discouraged or revert to your old diet if you aren’t mentally prepared. When you choose to become vegan, you need to learn why and how to do it. Make an educated decision by understanding the reasons for removing animal products from your diet and how to successfully transition. “This will really help you feel prepared and knowledgeable as you begin changing your lifestyle,” encourages Brittany of I Love Vegan. If you simply dive in head-first without preparation, support or knowledge, you’re more likely to give up. Learn how to properly nourish your body, identify vegan-friendly products and find educational media.
Try new recipes
Successfully altering your diet requires changing what and how you cook. Instead of merely removing animal products from your usual dishes, find new recipes to try that “make vegetables the stars of your meals,” as Lisa Valente, M.S., R.D. says in her EatingWell article on starting a vegan diet. “Veggies are full of vitamins (like A and K) and minerals (like potassium), they keep your calories in check and, because they are high in fiber, they can help you feel more satisfied.”
But that doesn’t mean you should just eat the same meals you always have by merely replacing the meat with a vegetable — it’ll just remind you of how the dish used to taste with meat. Instead, search for and experiment with different vegetable-centric recipes. The Vegan Society recommends this as an important step in going vegan. “There are thousands of vegan recipes out there from every corner of the globe,” they write in their guide to going vegan. “Whatever your culinary preference, you'll encounter amazing new dishes.”
Add before subtracting
If all you eat currently are meat-heavy meals, eliminating them suddenly from your diet will seem like an unconquerable challenge. An easier way to transition is to add to your diet before you subtract from it: “Begin incorporating more whole grain, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and tofu into your diet. Familiarize yourself with their preparation, storage and uses.” Expanding the amount of non-animal products in your current diet will make it seem less like diving into the deep end of the pool and more like wading in deeper from the shallow end. Plus, an increase in whole grains will help you feel full after eating so you’re not plagued by cravings.
By gradually adding new, delicious dishes into your diet and having the knowledge to change your life, you can become a vegan like hundreds of thousands of other people have.