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how to go vegan

3 Steps to A Successful Vegan Journey

I spent the weekend working on Wednesday's workshop (it's going to be lit!) and catching up on Power and Atlanta (love these shows).

I also spent some time thinking about some of the steps that anyone who wants to become and stay vegan must do to have a successful journey.

Check out my 3 tips to have a successful vegan journey....

1. Determine your why

Why do you want to be vegan? What will this look like for you? These are important questions. It takes time to transition to vegan life and that’s okay.

I want you to be gentle with yourself and open your mind for change.

Here are 3 common reasons people decide to go vegan:

Health

“Vegans are approximately one-ninth as likely to be obese as meat-eaters and have a cancer rate that is only 40 percent that of meat-eaters. People who consume animal products are also at increased risk for many other illnesses, including strokes, obesity, osteoporosis, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, multiple allergies, diabetes, and food poisoning.” (PETA)

Even though my family’s vegan journey started as a silent protest to the harsh realities of factory farming, the health benefits on this journey are amazing. We feel lighter, our skin is clearer and we have a lot more energy than we did when we ate dairy, eggs, and meat.

Environmental

“By going vegan, we can help prevent global warming, rainforest destruction, and pollution, while saving water and other precious resources. In fact, raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, planes, and other forms of transportation combined. There has never been a better time to go green by eating green.” (chooseveg.com)

I remember a few years ago there was so much talk about reducing our carbon footprints by not buying gas-guzzling vehicles. Even though this is an important way to reduce our overall fuel consumption, the most effective way to reduce environmental problems is by not relying on animals for food.

Animal Rights

“…we in the West constitute a society based on violence, oppression, misery, and domination that has led to an outgoing societal trauma from the microscale to the macrocell for all of us—whether we are the oppressors, the oppressed, or both. I see this clearly in how we collectively consume and how we rationalize why it is okay if our products come from a place of suffering, violence, and equality.” Breeze Harper

I never considered animal rights as much of a reason to be vegan until I read, Sistah Vegan. This book helped to change my perspective about our responsibility to care about animals. I now realize that we don’t need meat (land and sea) and we don’t need animal products for our survival. The bottom line is, factory farming is cruel and unnecessary.

Take these steps right now....

  • Think about your why.
  • Visualize what your life will look like as a vegan and then determine your why. This will come in handy when you second guess this lifestyle. Get clear on your why and make the decision to go vegan.
  • Use this space to write down your why. This is so powerful, so don’t miss this step. It will be helpful to refer back to this when you start to second guess your decision.
 

 

2. Always be ready, so you don’t have to get ready

My dad used to say this to me when it came to my schoolwork as a kid, but I feel this quote is also relevant to vegan life. One of the biggest obstacles you may face when transitioning to this lifestyle is getting adjusted to all of the planning that takes place.

Most of us are so used to just eating whatever we want, the extra step of reading ingredients labels (to ensure there's no eggs, meat, dairy) and asking your server questions while dining out, can feel so overwhelming. I promise with consistently this will get better.

Just be sure to add time in your schedule for meal planning, grocery shopping (to get more comfortable in the store & to read food labels) and check out restaurants menus online to see what vegan options they have available before you leave the house. Feeling rushed will only discourage you, so "always be ready, so you don't have to get ready."

Happycow.net is a good resource for finding vegan restaurants near your home and while traveling.

Is it Vegan? is a great app to determine whether or not a product is vegan while grocery shopping.

Finding Vegan is a great resource to find vegan recipes around the interwebs.

 

3. Be very gentle with yourself

There’s a misconception that vegans are perfect and that we never have issues with food. I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in perfect. It just doesn’t exist.

This lifestyle is truly a process and it takes time to get comfortable with no longer having meat, eggs, and cheese on your plate.

I want to give you a quick word of advice - Celebrate the baby steps no matter how small and always always embrace progression over perfection.

When you’re struggling with food, the only way to get back on track is by being gentle with yourself and understand that you’re human.

Write down what’s going on in your life that can be holding you back.

Is it a lack of meal planning, too busy to cook or just not feeling inspired? All of these things are normal. What can you do to make changes to your schedule that will allow for you to invest a little more time into getting back on track?

Remember, this transition is so worth it, so relax and embrace the ups and downs that may come along with being on this journey.

There was a time in my own journey that I didn't think I could move forward.

I went on vacation about 3 years ago and ate crab cake.

After eating that crab cake, I ate non-vegan cake and some other non-vegan meals.

I felt so defeated.

When I got home (after being sick for days), I continued to eat mostly vegan but still had issues getting back on track.

I think this is the side of vegan life that many don't talk about. Whether you're on the journey for a few months on a few years (like I was at the time), you realize this journey isn't perfect.

Keep moving forward and please please please don't beat yourself up if you get off track.

This will only hold you back.

~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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11 Tips to Go Vegan This Year

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There's no better time than now to get started on a healthy and compassionate vegan life. Do it for yourself. Your family. The animals. And for the planet.

What is a vegan? A vegan is a person who doesn't consume any animals (including seafood) or animal byproducts (including eggs & milk). Veganism extends to everything else in your life; including the cosmetics you use (no animal ingredients or testing) and clothing you wear (no real leather or fur), but in this post you're strictly talking about food.

An easy way to remember this -- If it has a face and/or parent, we don't eat or buy it.

 

11 Tips to Go Vegan This Year

 

1. Determine your why 

Why do you want to become a vegan?  Take a moment and think about it. Do you want to do it for your health? The health of your family? To protest factory farming? Do you want to protect our planet's precious resources?
Visualize what your life will look like when you transition to a delicious and long-term vegan life with your family. Take a few minutes and write down these reasons. Keep this writing on hand, so that you can refer back to it when things get tough.

Check out this previous post: 5 Reasons You Should Go Vegan with Your Family

 

2. Make the decision to go vegan

There's soooo much power in making a decision. Often we say we want to do something but tend to flip flop back and forth. The beauty of making a decision to embrace a lifestyle change, is that it forces you to take the necessary steps to make it happen.  You will start researching and experimenting in the kitchen once the decision has been made.

Check out the previous podcast: 2 Key Steps You Must Take If You Want to Be A Vegan

 

3. "Always be ready, so you don't have to get ready" - meal planning, eating out, etc.

My dad used to say this to me when it came to my schoolwork as a kid, but I feel this quote is also relevant to vegan life. One of the biggest obstacles you may face when transitioning to this lifestyle is getting adjusted to all of the planning that takes place.

Most of us are so used to just eating whatever we want, the extra step of reading ingredients labels (to ensure there's no eggs, meat, dairy) and asking your server questions while dining out, can feel so overwhelming. I promise with consistence this will get better.  

Just be sure to add time in your schedule for meal planning, grocery shopping (to get more comfortable in the store & to read food labels) and check out restaurants menus online to see what vegan options they have available before you leave the house.

Feeling rushed will only discourage you, so "always be ready, so you don't have to get ready."

Check out this resources:

Happycow.net is a good resource for finding vegan restaurants near your home and while traveling.

Is it Vegan? is a great app to determine whether or not a product is vegan while grocery shopping.

Finding Vegan is a great resource to findvegan recipes around the interwebs.

 

4. Don't restrict yourself more than you have to 

I often get emails and social media comments from people who want to start a vegan life and follow a:

  • Gluten-free

  • Raw vegan

  • No-oil

  • No vegan junk food

  • Etc, etc, etc. lifestyle.

Here's the thing: If you're very new to this lifestyle, don't feel like you have to make all of those changes at once.

Make being vegan your top priority and if you want to add in other changes as you get comfortable, do just that.

Focus on replacing your eggs, meat, dairy and other animal products with plant-based alternatives.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with just keeping a simple vegan approach because as you grow and learn, you will find what works best for YOU.

You don't want to be in a situation in which you feel like you have to do everything at once and end up doing nothing at all. Embrace the process and don't get wrapped up too much in adding other dietary stipulations in the beginning.

 

~Download the Vegan Starter Kit~

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5. Take time to get comfortable in the kitchen

Don't believe the hype -- You have to get comfortable in the kitchen if you want a delicious and long-term vegan life.  With a few basic skills you can dominate in the kitchen and not spend a million hours in there prepping and cooking.

Check out this previous blog post: How to Boost Your Confidence in the Kitchen

 

6. Find a supportive community

With only about 2% of Americans identifying themselves as vegan, this lifestyle can get pretty lonely. Being a part of a vegan community can keep you accountable and give you someone to bounce ideas off of and vent to. Since it's very likely that people in your every day life aren't vegan, use social media to connect with like-minded peeps.

Fact: Nearly all of my vegan friends are people that I initially connected with online.

Don't be shy! Here are a few tips on how to connect with other vegans on & offline

  • See what's going on in your local area using meetup.com - search for vegan/vegetarian groups that connect at restaurants and do other activities together.

  • Follow folks you resonate with on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (all of my real life vegan friends came from these sites). Be sure to connect with these folks, too! Be active :-)

  • See if your city (or a neighboring one) offers vegan/vegetarian festivals - There are so many vegan festivals that happen during the summer/early fall that offer music, food, speakers and of course so many like-minded folks. Vegan.com has a list of festivals. Also, Google the nearest major city to you and "vegetarian festivals" and see what you get.

 

7. Explore your grocery store/farmer's market in a new way

Once you start a vegan journey, you will realize your grocery store has much more to offer than you've ever imagined. I didn't really explore the international/ethic aisle until I started this lifestyle. I know it can be a bit intimidating, but being open to new ingredients and unfamiliar spices, fruit and vegetables will make cooking and transitioning that much easier.  

Challenge yourself to add something new to your cart each time you go to the grocery store and/or farmer's market.

 

8. Make a vegan version of your favorite dishes

The good news is you can easily make (or even buy) a delicious vegan version of all of your favorite foods. 

Here's an example:

I love cornbread! Since the conventional recipe calls for eggs, milk and butter it isn't normally vegan.

Instead of feeling like I can never eat cornbread again, I use vegan margarine instead of butter, almond milk instead of dairy milk and replace the eggs with Ener-G egg replacer (you can use Follow Your Heart vegan egg, too).

 

Get the  recipe here

Get the recipe here

The result is a delicious and familiar vegan version of the cornbread I ate before becoming a vegan.

Figure out how you can replace non-vegan ingredients with better plant-based options.

 

9. Realize it doesn't have to be all or nothing

A big misconception about starting a vegan journey is that you have to immediately throw all your animal products in the trash and eat only salad. My advice is to start where you are! Don't feel like you have to do everything at once if you don't want to.

Back in 2008, I started off as a vegetarian and even though I didn't think I would become a vegan (tried once and it didn't work), starting as a vegetarian likely led me to a vegan lifestyle.

Don't discount gradual changes.

Do the best you can every. single. day.

 

10. Focus on what you can eat and not what you can't

Right now you may be thinking: No eggs? No seafood? No cheese?  What the hell is there left to eat?

I promise there's sooo much variety when you decide to embrace a vegan lifestyle.

Before starting myself, I didn't eat quinoa, kale, cauliflower, Field Roast vegan sausage or nearly as many chickpeas as I do now.

Think of this way, you're going to replace all the meat, dairy and eggs with even more fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains - all the good stuff! 

PLUS, there's a vegan alternative for everything you can think of these days -- including milk, eggs, cheese and even fried chicken.

 

11. Progress over Perfection - Always

I think this is the side of vegan life that many don't talk about. Whether you're on the journey for a few months on a few years, you will soon realize that this journey isn't perfect.

Being vegan is a journey and not a destination. Most of the time you may stay on track, but overall it can be a roller coaster ride.
Keep moving forward and please please please don't beat yourself up if you get off track. Beating yourself for eating something non-vegan will only hold you back. 

 

I hope these tips helped you at least consider starting a vegan journey. Even though this lifestyle change is an adjustment, realize that anything worth having is worth fighting for!

 

You can do this!

 

Which tip was the most helpful for you? Leave me a comment and let me know.


~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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5 Reasons You Should Go Vegan with Your Family

I know exactly what it feels like to be overwhelmed with the idea of starting vegan life with a family.
When you're consistent and persistence with this lifestyle, I promise it will become easier to stay on track.

I believe the first step in getting started on a vegan journey is determine your why.

Once you think about why you want to go vegan, it's very important to make the decision to do it. There's sooo much power in making this decision because it will open you up to research your options, meal plan and even start cooking vegan meals.  Don't worry about being perfect. Just get started! 

Just in case you're still not sure why you should start a vegan lifestyle, I want to give you some amazing reasons why vegan life is right for you and the fam.

Here are 5 reasons you should go vegan with your family.....

*Health benefits

When you crowd out meat, dairy and eggs and replace with more vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and seeds; you lower the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain cancers and diabetes.

*Being vegan builds a solid foundation for your children

 Most of us grew up drinking tons of dairy milk and eating meat at every meal. We don't have to pass that same lifestyle down to our children.  We have the power to change this narrative. Spend some time meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking with your children (I'll give you tips on how to do this in later in this course). You don't have to lecture them daily, but as you learn and grow, pass on that information to them. 

 

 

*Being vegan saves money on your grocery bill  

Once you get the hang of vegan grocery shopping, you will see that you will spend about the same on your grocery bill or even less. 
Think about it this way, you're transferring the cost of meat, dairy and eggs (which can all be expensive-especially if you're buying organic) to more affordable options like more leafy greens, potatoes, beans and cashews. Think about how you're transferring the cost- NOT spending more on your grocery bill.
When you buy whole ingredients and get in the kitchen to cook more, you're guaranteed to save money and also eat better.

 

*Good for the planet

I remember a few years ago there was a lot of talk about how gas guzzling Hummer and SUVs aren't good for the environment but want to know what causes even more devastation? The production and consumption of meat and dairy!

 

*Silent protest against factory farming 

Ultimately, humans take away life. Other animals do not ‘give up their life’ as some people believe – they have not given consent to be slaughtered. In over 95% of cases they are killed prematurely:
-Cows, for example, could live to well over 20 years of age, while on 'dairy' farms they are usually shot between 3-4 years of age when milk production is no longer considered 'profitable'. Cows bred for 'beef' meat are killed sooner.
-Broiler chicks are just 6 weeks old and grown too rapidly to sustain their own weight and heart when they are killed. Chickens could live to 10 years old.
-Pigs are slaughtered when they have reached a certain weight, which will be later in organic systems than in intensive farms, but they are typically killed between 4-6 months of age, while they could reach 15 years.
-Sheep can also live to 15 years but depending on whether they are slaughtered as lambs or later, they are shot and bled between 3-10 months of age.
-Every week 3,000 male calves are killed shortly after birth, usually within days, and over 40 million day-old chicks are killed each year, including those from organic farms. Males do not secrete bodily fluids destined for offspring (cow's milk), or lay eggs like hens do. Calves are either shot or exported alive to where they are kept in small pens to produce veal flesh - deprived of their mothers and their natural food (milk). Source - Vegan Society

Here are some awesome books that helped me to get started back in 2010:

Diet for A New America, Sistah Vegan, Skinny Bitch

Is anything holding you back from starting your own vegan journey? Let me know by leaving a comment below.


~Get the Free Vegan Starter Kit~

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