As you look around your local supermarket, you may notice a change that has been happening the last decade. Almond milk is a staple in many households now, replacing cow’s and goat’s milk. There is an array of different vegan cheeses available and many recipes online to recreate your favourite flavour. Meat-free alternatives are becoming increasingly popular…and for good reason.
But what does this mean for you? Should you jump onto this bandwagon? The answer is yes.
You don’t have to be perfect, I learned long ago you don’t have to put a title on what you are. I say I’m vegetarian or flexatarian, and I eat fish from time to time. I sometimes have a bite of a burger, or have a huge grilled cheese. I’m not perfect, and I shouldn’t have to be. The minute you label yourself too restrictively, the more inclined you are to give up. My goals though are to strive to eat a full plant-based diet, but as of now I’m probably 80-20. 80% plants and grains, 20% animal products.
Say you watched “What The Health” yesterday and you decided to go fully vegan. You didn’t do any research, you bought soy-burger patties and Daiya cheese, and you bought some almond milk. How long do you think until you crack? A day? A week?
For myself if I did that, I wouldn’t last very long. The minute I’m hungry and there is no “healthy” food available in my eye sight, I’m heading out to a restaurant and it’s not going to be the cleanest meal either.
My advice for anyone who wants to try to be more vegetarian or vegan is to start small. Once you tweak a few things here and there, you may feel more comfortable to go for even bigger changes!
- Change your milk
Replace your cow’s milk for almond milk, organic soy milk, cashew milk, or even sunflower milk. If you like coffee in the morning, use almond milk instead. If I’m working, I will bring milk in a small mason jar so I can enjoy it there as well. Small changes! You can also make nut milk at home easily. Here is an easy recipe for Almond Milk from Oh She Glows!
2. Replace Your Meat Protein Once A Day
You don’t have to eat animal protein every meal. I used to think this way. I felt like a meal wasn’t complete without a slab of chicken on my salad, or extra cheese on my pepperoni pizza. Try replacing one of your meals in a day with a plant-based protein. Add nuts and chickpeas to your salads instead of grilled chicken; Try marinated grilled tofu steaks with potatoes and veggies instead of a steak!
3. Learn to Cook for Yourself
Look up some recipes online! Cooking for yourself gives you a sense of pride and achievement. Going plant-based is a lifestyle, and it can’t be sustainable if you can’t cook at home. Try buying a cook book such as Oh She Glows (my favourite) or Thug Kitchen!
4. Respect Your Body
It may take time for your body to benefit from your newfound diet. New foods and the adaption of a more plant-based diet means you will be eating more fibre. You may think that your stomach is upset, and that your digestion is in disarray. Keep with it. Your body is just adjusting to the extra fibre (which is good!), and will soon learn to adjust so you don’t feel so bloated!
5. Stay Active
So, you’re deciding to eat of a more plant-based diet. Why not workout at the same time? When you have goals that compliment each other it makes it easier to stick to a plan. I’m more inclined to get a large, extra cheese pizza if I didn’t go to the gym for a week. But if I have been working out, running or going to yoga, it makes sense for me to stick to my clean-eating.
6. Don’t Give Up, There Will Be Cravings
It’s going to be hard at first, and you’re not going to be perfect. Heck, I’m still not perfect and I don’t know if I ever will be. But if you want to try a plant-based diet, it’s never a bad idea. It doesn’t matter how much or little you start with – when you see the changes you will feel in your body and the clarity in your mind – you will still with it! You’re still going to have cravings for a burger, a steak, or even chicken wings. Of course it’s okay to splurge once and a while! Weeks will go by and you will begin to be more mindful of what you eat, you may actually start craving plant-based foods regardless!