Hello, hello! 🙂 Today I’m sharing some special info for all the newbies or wannabe vegan newbies out there. Whether you’re interested in eating healthier, you want to go vegan slowly, you feel like going big and becoming vegan overnight or just want to learn more about the lifestyle… this post is for everyone and anyone.
I’ve been getting lots of emails with similar questions – all relating to the vegan lifestyle and how one should start, along with any tips I have. While I do offer a lengthy and super helpful vegan starter guide, I feel like giving away free info! Please do help me out though and pick up that comprehensive guide so I can continue to give out free info, mmkay? 😉 (P.S. I added a PayPal option for my ebooks for people who like checking out that way.)
Are ya ready? This is a long one 🙂
Q: I don’t know where to start… I’m afraid that if I do go vegan and don’t adapt or get the hang of it quickly, I will give up. What should I do?
A: First of all, don’t be afraid. I know new things can be scary and I’m sure most vegans can agree with me that we were all nervous starting out. Let’s be clear though, this is a major life change. If you’re not willing to put everything you have into it, your experience will reflect that. This doesn’t mean you have to become anti-social or never eat out again. It just means that you will have to order differently and people may not be understanding (hopefully they will be though!) which is something you should be prepared for. Also, this transition takes time. You will get the hang of it but this could take months. Whether you are slowly transitioning or going vegan overnight – give yourself time to adjust and don’t be too hard on yourself if you screw up. The vegan police will not come after you, promise 🙂 Start with smoothies in the morning, big salads for lunch and simple bean, rice and vegetable meals for dinner. You do not need to eat extravagantly or give all of your time to cooking.
Once you start feeling the benefits (clear skin, weight loss, energy, improved digestion etc..), I’m pretty sure you won’t look back 😉 I recommend educating yourself as best you can. Read books about the plant based lifestyle like this one, this oneand this one. Find popular and simple vegan recipes on Pinterest and get cookin! Plan and prep. Have fun with it! Get friends or family involved. Ask for help. Research. Read. Learn. Research. Read and learn some more. Try new things. Get inspired!! Watch YouTube videos (like this one, this one, this one and this one) or email me if you’re having trouble. I promise you will LOVE living this way!
Q: I’m skeptical of this lifestyle because I’m worried I won’t receive all the nutrients I need.
A: Okay, let me start by saying that nature created nutritionally balanced, perfect foods for us to eat. EVERYTHING you will ever need, you can get from eating plants. Protein? From plants. Calcium? From plants. Iron? From plants. B12? Comes from the GROUND, not from animals, therefore it should be in plants but most soil nowadays is depleted of it. So take a B12 supplement and call it a day (by the way, most carnivores are deficient in B12 as well…its not just a vegan thing…). As long as you are eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, leafy green, legumes, and whole grains – you will be FINE!
Variety means all the different colors. This doesn’t mean you have to eat every color everyday. It means that throughout the week – try your best to include as many of the colorful array of fruits and veggies as you can and all will be good. For example, one morning I might make my favorite smoothie with spinach, blueberries, banana, maca powder and almond milk. For lunch I would have a kale salad with carrots, cucumber, tomato, avocado and white beans with a simple lemon balsamic dressing. For dinner I would have pasta with tomato sauce and mixed veggies or sweet potatoes, rice/quinoa with tomato sauce and lots of steamed broccoli. That’s a whole lotta colors – not including snacks throughout the day. It’s as simple or as complex as you want it to be! If you are concerned, enter in everything you eat in the Cronometer app – it’s super helpful.
Q: How much should I be eating? How can I feel satiated and full for a long time? What about carbs, fat and protein?
A: The best part about this lifestyle is the portion sizes. And the carbs. I know non-vegan people think I’m absolutely insane for eating a big bowl of pasta/rice/potatoes with veggies. They’re scared of carbs because of marketing and low-carb fad diets (hello yucky Atkins diet) but I’m not scared of carbs because I know the human body thrives on carbs – carbs are the body’s primary fuel source. Carbohydrates turn into glycogen which is stored in the muscles and used for energy. EAT CARBS. PASTA DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. CARBS DO NOT MAKE YOU FAT. It’s what you add into the pasta or the rice – the oil, the butter, the parmesan, the cream, the ground beef etc. I’m talking good carbs like whole grains, sweet potatoes, brown rice, brown rice pasta, quinoa, squash, fruit etc. and NOT the refined carbs like soda, donuts, white bread, white pasta, chips, french fries or candy bars. You know what I mean.
Doctors and plant based experts suggest a ratio of 80/10/10.
- 80% CARBS- fruit, potatoes, grains, veggies
- 10% PROTEIN- beans, legumes, soy
- 10% FAT- nuts, seeds, coconuts, avocados
Following this ratio, my weight is easily managed, I weigh less than I ever have in my adult life (which is amazing considering I eat way more than I ever have), I feel better than ever, I never deprive myself, I eat until I’m full and I could care less about portion sizes or calories. Seriously, who wants to measure and weight their food? If anything, you have to eat MORE on this lifestyle than you usually would with a standard american diet. I listen and am in tune with my body. I’m completely satisfied. I never count calories. The food is delicious. Should I keep going?
Q: Is this lifestyle time-consuming?
A: No.. yes.. maybe? It depends. If you plan on cooking gourmet vegan meals (which you will want to sometimes), it will take up more of your time just as if you were cooking gourmet non-vegan meals. You can spend 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes in the kitchen. It’s what you have time for. This is why planning and prepping are important. When at the store, stock up on low-sodium canned beans, low-sodium vegetable broth, quick cook brown rice, frozen vegetables and frozen fruit (for smoothies!) Get the pre-cut vegetables if it makes your life easier. It’s totally fine. This will save you time and you can whip something healthy up quick rather than stopping for fast food. Customize the lifestyle to work FOR YOU 😉
Do you plan and prep now? It’s the same thing. It’s nothing difficult; just new. It may initially take more time as you get used to cooking without meat and dairy but there are vegan replacements for every animal product (see next question) you can think of. It takes me extra time because I’m prepping then taking a picture, then cooking and taking a picture in the process, then plating it, making it look pretty and taking a picture.
Q: What are some vegan replacements?
A: Vegan replacements are easy to find, especially nowadays.
- For coffee creamer? Silk makes a great vanilla almond milk creamer or a vanilla soy creamer that you can find anywhere – even at Target. Go to Whole Foods and you will find a bunch of non-dairy alternatives. Or go on Pinterest, type in vegan coffee creamer and make your own at home!
- For meat? Tofu, tempeh, beans, seitan, mushrooms, lentils
- For milk? Almond milk, Rice milk, Soy milk, Hemp milk, Coconut milk
- For cheese? Vegan cheese is easily accessible but I rarely buy it. I like to use this recipe instead. Daiya makes vegan shredded cheese (good for pizza!)
Q: My family thinks I’m nuts for wanting to go vegan. They are giving me a hard time and do not think it’s a sustainable way to live. How do I deal with unsupportive parents?
A: Well, parents are protective and only want the best so initially they may be turned off from the idea. They think they always know better, right?! My parents were the same and now they think it’s great. Most parents were brought up to believe that meat, eggs and dairy are healthy because… marketing. So this is exactly why they think it’s a wild idea, plus they don’t like to be told what to eat. They need to get educated and you need to teach them with facts so you can talk to them in an educated manner. With unbiased research and REAL legit reasons why going vegan is the absolute best way to live, prevent and reverse disease… you may just win them over on the idea.
You do not want to argue with them but rather reveal the science behind it and the proof. This process takes time, it won’t happen overnight and it may never happen at all. My parents still really don’t understand why I do it because they will not watch the documentaries with me, but they support it. So watch documentaries with them if they’re up to it like Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Vegucated, and Earthlings. If they don’t want to learn, how can they give advice on what you should be eating? If they aren’t open to learning why you want to eat this way to begin with, they can’t be telling you what to eat.
Look at this diagram showing the differences in our teeth!
Q: What do I say to people who react negatively when they hear I’m a vegan?
A: People aren’t going to like it because you are going against what they “believe”. It’s fine – do not let it affect you. Just say this is working for me, I am feeling good and I’m sticking with it for now. You don’t need to get into an argument or get upset. I used to be so sensitive to anyone giving me a hard time and now I could care less because they honestly just don’t “get it” and never will. They’re reacting negatively because they are not properly educated and don’t understand. Just roll with it, laugh it off and have a good attitude because most likely, they want a reaction out of you. People are weird that way. If you are positive and upbeat and let nothing affect you – this may be shocking to them and will shut them up. BOOM.
A: At first, when eating out, I used to get nervous. Even up until a few months ago. One night, I was out to dinner with my parents in Wisconsin – the land of cheese. While reading the menu, literally everything had meat and cheese. The only thing I could eat was an iceberg lettuce salad… unless I spoke to the server and asked if there were other options or if we could work something out. She laughed and said okay… well… what would you like? I wasn’t expecting to be put on the spot, so I got a bit upset and blurted out “Well I don’t want to just make something up, I don’t even know what you have!” This was quite embarrassing. She was nice and ran back to her manager and asked what they could do. The manager came over and offered couscous with vegetables and hummus. Relieved, I said okay, wow, thank you! I made sure they were not using butter (asking for minimal oil instead) and the meal was delicious. Even in good ole Wisconsin, a vegan meal is available. All you have to do is ask. Most restaurants are aware of the allergies and dietary restrictions nowadays so it’s much easier in today’s world.
- Choose a nice big salad with avocado or beans instead of chicken. No cheese. Fresh lemon juice and balsamic for dressing.
- Ask for brown rice with steamed vegetables and hummus
- Order pasta with marinara sauce and a side of vegetables
- Choose a burrito or taco with black beans instead of meat
- Ask for potatoes, beans and vegetables
- Order a few appetizers instead of an entree like spring rolls with tofu or pita bread, vegetables and hummus
Okay, that’s all for now. I will be adding to this periodically. My vegan starter guide is over 60 pages long and answers everything you ever need to know if you want to get started now and it includes 30+ yummy (new!) recipes!!
Have more questions? Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to add it in or answer it 🙂