I didn't go Vegan overnight, it was a slow but sustainable transition. Here I share with you the first 3 changes I made towards going Vegan. My main motivation was my mental health and overall wellbeing so my only rule was 'no restrictions, no rules, no stress'. I would simply try to eat more plants and less animal products and take it slowly but surely.
For 5 Ways Going Vegan Helped My Mental Health, click here
After 2-4 weeks of these three changes I was already feeling positive effects:
I was aiming for a diet low in fat, high in whole foods. Check out my post '3 ways to be a healthy vegan'
1. Fruit Smoothie for Breakfast
The very first thing I started doing in my move toward Veganism was making a smoothie each morning. I bought a cheap blender and I would blend grapes and bananas with a little water (you can also use a plant based milk if you wish), sometimes I'd use other berries instead of the grapes. It would be a large smoothie, maybe a litre or so. Beginning my day with fruit, and plenty of it, has a very positive effect on my physical and mental health.
2. Changing the portion size of plants vs animal products
I did not go vegan overnight, it took almost a year before I was eating a predominantly vegan diet. My plan was to go slowly but sustainably into the dietary change so I focused on eating MORE plants and LESS animal products. I would include meat and dairy in my meals still but the portion size would be very small in comparison to the amount of plant based products on my plate. I would also fill up on the plant based foods before eating the animal products which would result in a lesser amount being consumed. Little tweaks like this led to a sustainable vegan lifestyle and the animal products moved out of my diet almost without me noticing.
3. Eating More
I started eating more. I encouraged myself to eat when I was hungry and until I was full. I had never been a calorie counter or dieter, always feeling that I didn't have the willpower for that! I realised that I needed to fuel my body with lots of good, wholesome nutrition for it to be able to operate to the best of its ability. Forget about getting fat or being fat for the moment, this was about helping my body do the work it needed to do. If I gained some pounds, so be it. As it turned out I lost a stone over the following year or so, simply as a side effect!
Bonus tips.. Hydrate! Drink plenty of water, aim for at least 2 litres a day. Move! Even if it's just walking, get some movement in every day if possible. Exercise is great for the body and the mind.
This was my personal experience, maybe it will be of some help to others out there. I do hope so :)
Although a vegan diet is always a good ethical and environmental choice, simply just eating vegan does not mean you will reap the health benefits, of which there are indeed many! Today I want to share my top three tips on how to be a healthy vegan :)
Quite simply, there is vegan junk food. There are a lot of processed vegan foods and while these aren't all bad, as with any processed or junk-y foods it's always healthier to keep them to a minimum in your diet. You should also try to keep your diet low in fat and, as much as possible, oil free.
So here's my 3 top tips on how I helped myself become a healthy vegan:
1. Build Meals Around Whole Foods
Try to build your meals around whole foods. It sounds difficult when you're first beginning, it definitely did to me because I wasn't at all into cooking!! But once I realised that a meal could be a smoothie, or some rice with a tin of sweetcorn and mixed beans, or beans on toast with some salad leaves or.. the list goes on! You don't have to get fancy about this. And sure, by the frozen stuff and the conveniently packaged stuff but just try to keep it as close to nature as you can! You'll find that it gets easier the longer you do it :)
2. Keep It Simple
I cannot emphasise this enough! You don't have to suddenly start creating magic in the kitchen or using foods you've never heard of. Jacket potato and beans is vegan, beans on toast as I mentioned above, is vegan. Some tins of soup are vegan. Toasted sandwiches can be vegan if you just choose the right stuff to put in them. Potato wedges with ketchup! Rice and a mixed veg stir fry. Pasta with a tin of mixed beans and some salad... Think about what you normally eat and eliminate the meat and dairy from it. Again, try as much as possible to keep it whole foods, low fat and as unprocessed as possible. But cut yourself some slack in the beginning ;)
3. Eat Plenty!
Seriously, make sure you eat enough good, clean food and get yourself a decent breakfast in the morning. This will keep the cravings away. Cravings, most often for junky or high fat food, is simple your body's cry for nutrition so make sure your body is being consistently fuelled with enough good, clean foods and it will keep the cravings away!
So there we go, hope my own experience with this has helped you.
Remember: Keep it real, keep it simple and above all, enjoy your food! :)
Going Vegan can feel, and be, difficult initially as you are changing some deep set habits and your taste buds. Doing it gradually and not being too restrictive on your self helps. For me, it was a slow but sustainable change. Almost without realising it I ended up vegan and have never felt or ate healthier than I do now! So here's my five ways to make going vegan easier:
1. Find Plant Based Snacks
We all have moments where we want to eat some cake, tuck into something hearty and heart-warming or simply just dip into whilst we watch a film, so knowing what your go-to snacks and treats are going to be will stop you reaching for animal products and overly fatty or processed food. My go-to's are toast and hummus or jam, cereal and rice milk, dairy free yoghurt, ginger nut biscuits (if vegan), oat and honey bars.. I'm not saying these are healthy but if you can find plant based (and preferably healthy) snacks then you'll have your 'comfort' moments covered :)
Read the First 3 Changes I Made When Going Vegan
2. Use CRON-O-Meter
CRON-O-Meter is a great tool for keeping track of the nutrition in what you're eating. If you want to make sure you're getting all your nutrients on your plant based or vegan diet, click here to check out CRON-O-Meter. Also, here's a video showing how easy it is to get all your nutritional needs on a Plant Based diet, using CRON-O-Meter as a tracking tool:
3. Start the day right, preferably with fruit
If possible, eat or drink fruit first thing in the morning. There's plenty of smoothie ideas online and if rushed, blend it, bottle it and drink in during your commute. Or start with a glass of fruit juice or shop bought smoothie then follow with a bowl of oats or cereal. When you've got time start the day with a green juice, that feels really good!
4. Don't be too restrictive on yourself
I don't believe in counting calories or setting yourself unrealistic goals. Sustainability is the key here. There's no point attempting to be healthier in a way that means you're only going to continue for the next 6 weeks or 6 months! Our bodies respond to consistency so play the long game. Don't try to be too 'pure' about it, it's better to be eighty or ninety percent plant based and stick with it than try to go 100% and drop off a few weeks or months in. I don't say this so that you can 'treat' yourself have an excuse to 'fall off the wagon' but so that you will develop a mindset that doesn't think in terms of wagons, treats and diets. Think Whole-foods, Plant Based and eat plenty of the good stuff so that your body is nutritionally satisfied.
5. Keep it simple
Eating Plant Based doesn't have to be a dramatic change or mean buying a whole bunch of fancy new ingredients (unless you like cooking!) There is a lot of easy foods out there that are simple and quick to cook, fill you up nicely and taste great! Veggie burgers, frozen veg, soups, potatoes (baked/roasted/boiled/mashed). I make a lot of stir fry style dishes with rice as that's straight forward. For getting salad in, buy some wraps, a bag of mixed salad leaves, cook up some rice (or buy the microwaveable packet type), throw in a tin of mixed beans and anything else you'd like, maybe a salsa or sweet chilli sauce and make your own burritos! It can be as simple as having your usual Sunday roast but leaving the meat off, or initially simply cutting the amount of meat down and increasing the amount of veg. Roast veg is always delicious! You can still have a cooked breakfast on Saturday, just make it veggie sausages, mushrooms, hash browns, fried onions and baked beans. Add a couple of slices of toast and enjoy. On a healthier note, how about rice with a stir fry mix of peppers, mushrooms, onions, sweetcorn and anything else you want to throw in?
Thanks for reading, happy eating!
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