A very common thing I see in my work are people who have made the decision to turn completely plant based or vegan and then getting stuck on how they are going to do it. They’ll say to me, “But what am I going to eat?” and “I’m going to starve, aren’t I?” and the most common is, “Surely I’ll be eating the same thing every day for the rest of my life, right?”
Making the change to become plant based or vegan is a big decision. And if you feel the calling to do so, it is really important to make sure it’s done in a loving, balanced way and with ease. It’s so great you want to take more care of the planet and be more loving to animals, but it’s also important that you do it with love for yourself too. This is especially true if you want to stick to it long term. Otherwise, you may just end up getting overly hungry or under-nourished and not taking very good care of yourself.
Back in 2005 I felt a very strong calling to go completely vegan. I was doing a lot of yoga and practicing daily meditation, and it just felt like the absolutely right thing to do at the time. I am no longer a vegan today as I now eat some fish, but I lived happily and completely plant based for six years. Here are some tips on how the transition can be done in a way that still feels abundant, nourishing and allows us to take the absolute best care of ourselves.
First Things First – make sure YOU really want to do this. There is nothing less empowering than forcing yourself to cut out foods because someone else thinks you should. It’ll only affect your self-esteem and self-worth dramatically. So please make sure it is something YOU really want to do and a change your own body feels happy making. If the answer is still YES, then great! You’re already halfway there, and your body will be delighted that you’re listening to it. Set a month you’re going to start and begin easing your way in.
Educate Yourself – I would highly suggest investing in one or two, easy-to-use, plant based recipe books that have clear instructions on all the proteins a plant based diet offers. Then make a list and go shopping with the goal to buy at least two or three of the suggested proteins to have at home before you even begin. Ideally, it would be best to try cooking and eating one or two of them before you go fully vegan so they are not complete strangers to you.
Ease Your Way In – This is one of the gentler ways of doing this to make it easier on yourself. Begin by cutting out meat and only eating fish. Then start incorporating some of the new vegetarian proteins 3-4 times a week. Then after a week, take them up to five times a week, until the final week, when you are ready to cut out fish and go 100% plant based.
Stock Up – Make sure you stock up with good quality, healthy vegan options in your home so you don’t end up starving and stuck with not knowing what to eat and instead devouring a big bag of tortilla chips for dinner! Stock your cupboards with Amy’s good quality vegan soups, along with pre-cooked packets of tempeh and tofu, as well as Amy’s vegan burritos and vegan mac & cheeze. And make sure there are plenty of vegetables in the house. This way while you are learning how to cook delicious vegan meals yourself, you can still make sure you’re eating yummy, good quality meals.
Embrace It & Have Fun! – This is the fun part! If you’re going to do it, fully embrace it! Take some vegan cooking classes, have fun cooking new dishes with friends, invite them over for dinner and try out new recipes to feed them (and yourself). Find the fun in it all so that you can begin to get excited about it, all while also learning how to feed yourself this new kind of delicious food! It’s so important that you love your decision and still enjoy food and cooking so you don’t end up feeling deprived and like you’re just on a really strict diet.