1. Start With Replacement Foods
There are so many options for new vegans to eat very similar to their current diet! For example, if you love a bagel and cream cheese every morning, don’t drift too far from that when making the initial switch. Even after 5 years of eating completely vegan, I love to start my morning with fresh fruit and then a bagel or english muffin with Tofutti cream cheese (my favorite is the Garlic & Herb flavor). If you love spaghetti and meatballs at dinner, use vegan meatballs and you won’t even notice the difference. You can also use Shirataki Tofu Noodles for a healthier and lower calorie option to traditional pasta. (Delish!)
2. Don’t Deprive Yourself
If you’re hungry…EAT! Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for snacks and eat them throughout the day. My favorite snacks are clementines, apples, bananas, carrots with humus and celery with almond butter. I also keep dried mango slices (my personal preference are those from Trader Joe’s) and Larabars handy if I’m in a pinch and don’t have access to anything fresh. Keep vegan options everywhere (purse, office, car, gym bag) so you can mask hunger or cravings during your initial transition.
3. Drink Water And Then…Drink More Water
Your body is constantly trying to clean itself from the inside out, especially when you put nutritious and wholesome food inside of it. Water will help your body flush out the toxins from years of consuming animal products and other processed foods. Your body may also feel withdrawal symptoms from the lack of dairy and animal products, and water will help ease any of the symptoms you encounter.
4. Understand The Health Benefits
If you understand the science behind why eating vegan is dramatically better for your health, you are more likely to stick with it! Watch the documentary Forks Over Knives, read anything from Dr. Neal Barnard, or do your own research online. It has taken me years to fully understand the health benefits of veganism, and I am still learning things every day as new research is conducted, but once I learned to put aside the years of incorrect information I was fed through big corporations and great marketing campaigns, I was more enthusiastic about eating vegan for my health.
5. Stock Up On Easy Options For Mealtime
Vegan recipes do NOT have to be complex and take hours to cook. No one has that kind of time. Always keep your favorite salad ingredients handy, and Mexican food is always a great, easy option. I always keep my fridge stocked with tortillas, salsa, guacamole, refried beans, and ground-beef style crumbles for an easy meal. Additionally, I am certain to always have the ingredients for a “beef” potpie, a personal favorite.
6. Make A Few Big Meals
Eating vegan does not mean you can’t continue to enjoy mealtime! If you make a few meals over the weekend that can be eaten throughout the week, you are more likely to continue the vegan transition with less hiccups. Try making a vegan chili with cornbread or curry lentils over rice or mashed potatoes.
Physical activity is great for all lifestyles, and studies have shown that exercise increases your energy and improves your attitude. If it is a simple walk after dinner or a cycling class every morning before work, anything is better than nothing!
8. Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
The transition to a completely vegan diet can be a tough one, so if you have a few mishaps, don’t beat yourself up about it. It takes time to learn to read labels correctly and the withdrawal symptoms can be challenging for some people who have consumed excessive amounts of animal products for years. However, remember that you made a commitment to yourself for your health, and it is exactly that, a commitment.
9. Get Social
Your friends and family may not be into the vegan diet and they may be completely ignorant to the health reasons behind your transition, so find people who will support you and your journey to a healthier you! Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are a great place to find others just like you, traveling on the same path for health.
10. Have A Positive Attitude
You are giving yourself a gift everyday you commit to eating vegan. The transition may be hard initially, but remember why you made the commitment to a vegan diet. Go into your new vegan diet with positivity, knowing what you are doing for your body, and believe that you can do it! If you believe, you will achieve!