Today, food plays a very big role in our society, our heart and our culture. We have been summoned our whole childhood about eating “as much variety as possible”, but what happens when some of this “variety” become a big environmental problem? In mainstream society, vegans are mostly mocked and thought of as restrictive zombies who eat only greens ! This is somewhat changing. People are starting to realise that their food makes a big change. Aren’t humans adaptable? Facing all of the evidence about climate change and the obvious health benefits of going green. Why not try it out? Here are 7 tips to an easy transition.
1. Get informed
Today become vegan and stay vegan, nothing better than a little shot of reality every once in a while. Take time to watch groundbreaking documentaries like Cowspiracy for example, a film sponsored by Leonardo Di Caprio himself (yes he is vegan). It talks about all of the problems of factory farming and even sustainable farming ! Forks Over Knives is also an excellent documentary about how meat is wrecking your health. Finally, Joaquin Phoenix (another sexy vegan) narrates us all of the issues linked to farming, overfishing and even adopting pets in the disturbing film, Earthlings. There are also many good books on the subject. Jonathan Safran Foehr’s talks about his journey in the book Eating Animals, a real eye opener that can really make you think twice about that steak. Mathieu Ricard, tells us about our twisted relationship with animals in his novel Altruism. We can’t list everything, but if you go to Payot or on amazon, you can find great books about great vegans who have made this important choice.
2. Go green, step by step
No need to rush, unless you have been permanently disgusted by cheese and honey (no, honey is not vegan !) you won’t go vegan in a day. As our favorite vegan guru Kathy Freston says, you have to lean in a vegan diet. It is sometimes easy to back away from fish and meat straight away when we are sensible and reasonable animal lovers, but in Switzerland cheese is everything ! It takes time to decide when to start, the to plan the rest of our lives: what to cook, which ingredients to eat. Thankfully, a LOT of info can be found online. Recipes, lifestyle inspiration, DIY … you don’t even have to leave the house !
Your grocery shopping will be different of course because half of the aisles will be forgotten or ignored ! Take time to cruise by the greens and fruits. You will find things that you have never considered in cooking but that are worth the try. Get to know your ingredients, learn how to cook them, mix them with the right protein and get enough healthy fats. Start by being a good vegetarian, you will feel so good you will want to rush to a plant based diet !
3. Get cooking !
Nothings keeps you from going to the restaurant. The best tip is to check the menu online beforehand to see if there are vegan options. The restaurants that are most likely to have vegan dishes are foreign cuisines like lebanese, chinese, japanese and even ethiopian cuisine. The best way to get to know your vegan foods though is to cook. It will be a great discovery to start a whole new cooking adventure, trying new products and new savours. Today, there are many vegan cookbooks to choose from that will make your mouth water. For example the Oh She Glows cookbook from famous vegan blogger Angela, or the funny Thug Kitchen cookbook that recommends to eat like you give a f*ck ! Even stubborn meat eaters will love their veggie burgers. Get used to your new lifestyle by mastering the art of cooking it well, otherwise you will soon be discouraged.
4. Replace meat (at first)
It’s not easy cutting out our favorite foods, but don’t worry, eventually you will replace these foods by new ones. If you love milk chocolate for example, your palate will soon only crave black chocolate. But in the begining, we always want to try meat substitutes, just to see if it’s as good as meat. Cereal steaks, soy sausajes… everything exists at your local supermarket so no worries here. You just have to be careful not to abuse of soy products or refined products because they are not always a healthy option. Verify the contents of the processed food your buy and try to keep them at least organic !
Your caloric intake will be much lower on a vegan diet unless you stuff down pasta all day, so don’t worry about quantities. You will not get fat you just need to eat until you are satisfied. Many people who restrict calories start vegan diets and don’t eat enough: this can be dangerous to your health. Eat up ! Don’t forget to explore a variety of different vegan foods. Try quinoa for example, Amaranth, sweet potatoes. Cook with fresh herbs you’ve never used before, legumes and spices. Who said vegan cooking was bland?
5. Beware of vitamin deficiencies
A lot of vegan eat too much “vegan junk food” in the beggining of their transition. Why not embrace this new lifestyle by making positive and healthy changes to your regime? It is crucial to have a balanced diet when on a vegan diet, otherwise you may be at risk of having vitamin deficiencies. It is quite simple, meats and dairy products contain a lot of nutrients that are vital to the body in big quantities. These nutrients are all available in vegan products, but they are spread through hundreds of different foods ! You need all of these foods to get all of your vitamins so start looking it up. What do I need to compose a healthy vegan diet. Zinc, iron and calcium for example are typically meat and dairy nutrients that can be found in chick peas, spirulina, leafy greens and many vegetables. Also, do not be afraid of protein deficiency. A human being need 0.8g of protein per kg per day. So if you weigh 60 kilos, you need only 48g of protein a day. This can easily be found in grains and legumes alone.
The only vitamin that does not exist in the plant world is B12. It is a vital nutrient to our bodies so it is recommended to take supplements of B12 or to eat B12 fortified foods.
6. Be surprised by the health benefits
The health benefits of a vegan diet includes increased energy, radiant skin, and many more. On the other hand, you might experience some cleanse symptoms like temporary acne or slight flus. This is normal. Animal products are usually loaded with antibiotics and hormones which you have to clean from. Soon, you will feel much lighter, you will definitely lose weight gradually and never put it back on. Some vegans say they are less tired and need less hours of sleep ! So don’t be scared of lacking energy. If you eat enough, you will most likely have even more stamina which is why many vegan athletes confess the work out better than before on this diet. Your body will slowly adapt to receiving nutritious food that it has always craved. Want a more detailed list, read this.
7. Be indulgent with others and yourself.
When we discover the truth about the activity of hog farms, poultry farms, fisheries, slaughterhouses, we tend to go a bit overboard. These videos can have us feeling like we are participating in a world war ! We want others to feel the same way and we can get a little bit annoying. You have to admit that others sometimes don’t have the same sensivity to animal slaughter or simply don’t want to stop eating meat. Our best tip: leave them alone and concentrate on doing your thing. After a while, they might notice that you are on a good lead and you can then talk to them calmly about your choice or show them cool recipes.
Don’t forget that no one is perfect ! There will always be angry people to comment on your lifestyle. The only thing you can do is do your best. And hey, we learned that going vegan is a bigger step to the environment than any other small action you can do. It’s simple and everyone can do it. Remember that everything you buy has an impact. So make the right choices !