What Should I Know?
Whenever you plan on making any kind of life transition, you want to make sure you know what you are in for. Making the switch to Veganism/Vegetarianism is no different. I wanted to make this post to try to ensure that your switch to Veganism is as smooth and as successful as possible. I know that these are topics that I dove into myself when making the switch almost three years ago. I really believe that my transition would not have been as smooth had I not gone figure out the follow information beforehand.
So what should you know?
1.Why you want to make the transition
The best way to succeed on a vegan lifestyle is making sure you know why you are doing it. There’s nothing worse to me, than starting it and never finishing it. You started this journey for a reason and you want to make sure you stick with it for that reason! You reasoning for going vegan may expand to bigger and greater things, but for now you want to have a clear reason in your head for making this change. People are always going to be there to try to knock you off track, but if you remember the promise you made to yourself, you’ll be golden. You don’t have to go vegan for the animals and surprisingly enough, you don’t have to love PETA. I went vegan for the sole purpose of improving my health number one! I knew that I had always had a problem with the slaughter of animals, and I learned about the environmental effects of the animal agriculture industry, and those soon became my next three reasons for going vegan. I may have not started out with the sole intention of helping animals, but it didn’t matter. I knew my intentions behind my transition to veganism and I’ve stuck to them to this day.
There are so any different benefits of going vegan. It’s not all about the animals (granted that is a huge benefit behind Veganism). I suggest REALLY looking into the benefits behind Veganism and finding what speaks to you. Being educated on the benefits of a plant based diet will also come in handy when it comes time to making your food. There are so many things out there, and veganism is not about eating only organic foods and drinking kale juice. In fact, it’s way more than that! There are so many different aspects to veganism, and so many different benefits behind it. Trust me. Everyone is going to want to catch you with the wrong answer to their question or find a way to prove you wrong, but this is not possible if you know your stuff.
3.That there is a new category of food you haven’t even touched!
You may think you know of all the fresh produce in the world, but trust me you don’t! There are SO many different kind of fruits and vegetables out there that you have not tried yet, so don’t right off fruits or vegetables yet! I used to get tired of just having baked plain white potatoes when I first went vegan, and then I found Korean, Japanese, and Purple sweet potatoes and realized that I had been missing out the whole time. Trust me when I say I eat those every week ad they’re now a very important staple on my grocery list. You may not like squash, but there are may other things out there that you have not tried yet, and you would be surprised as to how good they can actually be. Don’t forget about the foods you don’t like right now! Your taste buds WILL CHANGE! Once you start feeding your body with the nutrients it needs, it will crave the foods that will help it flourish. I used to hate mangos, any kind of berry, kiwis, and many other fruits, but now I LOVE them! I can never have enough mango and I want it in every smoothie or smoothie bowl I have. Most of the time, I grab a mango,cut it open and munch of it while I think about what I actually want for a snack. Lol. Don’t forget that every piece of produce tastes slightly different. Sometimes your Gala apple is really sweet, and then you have those times when they’re sour and gritty. It happens! It’s all natural produce and they’re not always perfect. Remember that when you are trying something new for the first time. I always get two or three of a new food item when I try it for the first time. This way I can figure out if that is how the fruit/vegetable normally tastes, or did I just get a fluke? The first time I had a date I HATED them. I thought they were so gross. Then I waited a little bit, bought different kinds of dates from a different company and I loved them! Now a big 2lb container of dates lasts me about two days….and that’s WITH self control. hahah
4.What is practical for your life
Don’t set yourself up for something you cannot keep up with over a long period of time! This is honestly so important! If you are someone who is always on the go for work of school, think about what foods keep you running the longest, and when you actually have time to cook. Don’t start off eating 100% raw vegan if it doesn’t keep you energized and functional throughout the day. You will quickly fall of the band wagon and say that veganism is terrible, but in all reality, you just didn’t make it practical for yourself. If you get home at 7:30 every night and don’t have time to cook, look into meal prepping for yourself for the week. This way, when you get home at 7:30, you don’t have to start cooking your dinner after already being drained from the day. Find what works for you, and how you can prepare food in your free time (if that is what you need to do). You want to make this as easy as possible for yourself.
5.What is practical for your budget
Produce prices are always going to vary depending on where you live. Fruit may not be cheap for you in the winter where you are living, so don’t make fruit a primary staple in your diet during that time. Do what you can with the money you have. The vegan diet IS AS EXPENSIVE AS YOU MAKE IT. The poorest countries in the world thrive off a plant based diet, so it can be cheap, and it really should be cheap. Starches and whole carbs are not only your best friend for your body, but also for your wallet. Lol. They’re so cheap, they fill you up, and keep you energized. Oats are another really cheap item. So make that a staple for your breakfast! Quinoa is another food item that is cheaper in price, filling, and great for you. Beans are always a plus, and you can never have enough potatoes/sweet potatoes. Bananas are a fruit that are typically really cheap to buy as well. There’s no point in basing your diet off of jackfruit if that is extremely expensive and hard to get in your area. You could not sustain that diet long term. You also DO NOT HAVE TO BUY ORGANIC TO BE VEGAN. PSA: VEGAN DOES NOT MEAN ONLY ORGANIC!!!!! Hahahaha. Yes, strive for organic and Non-GMO is possible. But at the end of the day, eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are still significantly more beneficial than eating animal products, and may studies have shown that. I agree eating organic can be expensive at times. Heck, I don’t even eat organic all the time. It’s just not possible for me at the moment. I always compare prices of organic produce, because sometimes you would be surprised as to either how close they are in price (a few cents difference), or they might even happen to be CHEAPER! Yup, I said CHEAPER! Last week I went grocery shopping and conventionally grown kale was 99 cents each, and organic kale was 95 cents each. Same exact amount of kale, the the higher grade product was cheaper….so of course I got organic kale that day. Lol. I know Whole Foods gets a bad rap, but to be honest, there are cheap ways to shop at Whole Foods. Some of my grocery staples, like oatmeal, quinoa, peanut butter, canned beans, agave, maple syrup, vegan butter, are actually cheaper to buy at Whole Foods versus my local Kroger. Surprisingly enough, I save money shopping at Whole Foods! Some foods, like canned beans, are the same price, but a higher quality product at Whole Foods. If canned beans are 10 for $10, (making them $1 each) at Kroger, and Whole Foods has them for $1 and they’re NON0GMO verified, USDA certified, and are housed in a non BPA lined can, of course I would buy them from Whole Foods….So don’t write off your health food stores quite yet!
I don’t want you to get too caught up in trying to make everything perfect, because the most important things is that you are eating whole plant based foods. Not whether or not your foods contain some amount of pesticides. Trust me, a little pesticide is better than consuming tons of antibiotics, animal hormones and stressful toxins.
6.What foods you do and do not like
Believe it or not, you don’t have to like every food in the world to be vegan. Yes, you can hate bananas and dates and be vegan. Yes, you can not like vegetables and still be vegan. Disliking these things won’t make you any less vegan, or any less successful at veganism. I hated most fruits when I went vegan. I’ve always loved vegetables, but fruits were something I just couldn’t wrap my mind around. I’m the kind of person who likes to try different foods, or consume foods that I typically don’t like from time to time. Fruits were no different. I knew how good they were for me, and how yummy everyone said they were, so I would give them a go from time to time. I realized that I didn’t mind berries when they were blended up with some banana, so I would do that in order to increase my fruit intake. Eventually I started to like mangoes and kiwi. My point in saying all of this, is to make sure you don’t get discouraged during your transition because you don’t like a certain food. I still hate strawberries three years later, and that’s okay. Lol It’s a work in progress. I have noticed that the foods my body craves and likes has changed over the years and I know that will happen to you as well. What you like and dislike now may change, so don’t let the foods you don’t like now discourage you from making the transition.
7.What foods are cheaper in your area at the current time
Learning how to shop by season is a big plus! You’ll eventually get to the point where you’ll have a ton of different kinds of food that you like and you are about to easily adapt to the price changes. If blueberries are out of season, but strawberries are in season, buy more strawberries and either ditch or minimize the amount of blueberries you buy. This way you can save some money. Out of season foods tend not to taste as great as they do when they’re in season as well. I know when November comes around, sweet potatoes go from 99 cents per pound to 33 cents per pound, and I live off of those things for a while. I love the taste of them, and they’re super cheap! Why wouldn’t I stock up on them? Knowing the normal prices of your produce is SUPER important. If I know that avocados are normally 99 cents each, and then they go up to 1.38 each, I don’t buy them for the week…I just don’t find them to be cost effective at that moment in time. It also helps you keep your grocery bill down and consistent. Taking advantage of your grocery stores membership card is always a great idea, as well as looking for discounts of coupons for your local grocery store. I know Sprouts has weekly store discounts that start and end every Wednesday in my area. On top of that, if I go grocery shopping on Wednesday I can combine the current and past week’s coupons together to get even more savings. There are tons of videos on YouTube where people successfully complete a week or two worth of groceries with $20 on a vegan diet. It does not have to be pricey. You just want to be smart with your money!
8.What works for you/How to listen to your body
If you have done any research on changing to veganism, I’m sure you have heard of high carb low fat veganism (hclf), 80 10 10 veganism, raw veganism, raw till four and a slew of other versions of “the best” vegan diet. I don’t think there is anything wrong with looking into these things and trying them. In fact I highly suggest it! Just don’t get caught up in trying to make everything perfect and following the diet of another individual. You’re body might respond to a low fat intake in a negative way and vis-a-versa. Humans are intended to consume plants for a fact, but the kind of plants may vary from person to person. If you find yourself to be super sluggish and lacking energy, look into the foods that give you energy and eat more of those. That is what YOUR body needs! Don’t listen to the exact diet plan that someone else makes for you. Remember that is what they eat. Not what you have to eat. Find what works for you and your body and do that!
Taking the first steps toward Veganism will take some trial and error, but don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay to make mistakes. Trust me, everyone does at first. I know I did. The most important thing is that you have fun with what you are doing and don’t get too caught up in the perfection of the lifestyle. Find what works for you and do it!
“Veganism is not a sacrifice. It is a joy.” -Gary L. Francione