Making the transition to a vegan / plant based diet can leave your feeling overwhelmed at times. There are so many questions… Is this good? Is that bad? Why not this? How come that? It’s a whirlwind of questions and information that can make your head ache and get on your very last nerve. It can leave you feeling uncertain, frustrated and it can even make you feel like giving up!
While the stream of information may seem endless, and even conflicting at times, you are already well on your way – you’ve made the decision to become vegan or WFPB and that’s more than most people can say. It’s not easy making the switch, so below I have included 8 tips to make the transition easier for you!
Tip # 1 – Do Your Research!
I put this one first because there is something most people tend to forget… what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander. There is no ‘set in stone’ standard you need to follow. Few vegans will eat honey, most wont. Some WFPB eaters will consume oil, others wont. My best advice to you is do your research! Make your own decision as to whether or not it fits with your morals and / or your goals. If it does, include it. If it doesn’t, exclude it. This is the most important tip. Educate yourself on the risks and benefits, then weigh out the pros and cons based on your morals, ethics and goals. Does it sit well with what you’re trying to achieve? I often hear “Is this ok to eat?” – Well, do the health benefits outweigh the risk factors? Is it in line with your goals? That should be your defining factor. It’s what YOU are willing to live with – not what others see as “the right way” … because with WFPB, there is no “right way” – it’s what you decide is the right way.
Tip # 2 – Start Slowly!
One of the things I see most is “I’m started 4 days ago, I cleared out my kitchen and now I’m really having a tough time”. I know you’re feeling motivated and excited and you want to make the switch sooner rather than later, but do yourself a favor and make the switch slowly! I find most people who give up are those who just bust down the door and scream “HERE’S JOHNNY!” and expected instant change and instant success. Hey, some people have done it and kudos to them, but this is HARD and most people cannot make this drastic of a change so easily, so quickly. Start slow. Aim for 1 month, 3 months or even a year. It took my family almost 15 months to completely transition, and that’s OK! You move at a pace you are comfortable with. Don’t stress if it takes you 1 month, 6 months or 18 months… Pat yourself on the back for at least DOING it!
Tip # 3 – Meal Plan & Prep!
I’m a busy person, I own and operate 2 companies, I have 4 children and 2 dogs. I work 12-16 hour days and I NEVER have time for meal prep during the week. But meal prep is KEY – so how do I do it? Sundays! That’s how! I take 1 day out of my busy week to meal plan, grocery shop and meal prep. It literally takes up almost my entire day! But it saves me time, headaches and stress all week long. What I’ve done over the years is keep a list of every single meal idea that we’ve tried and liked. So when it comes to meal planning, I just go through the list of breakfasts, lunches and dinners and I pick out the meals that we will eat that week. It’s quick and easy (now lol). It wasn’t always quick and easy .. this list took me a long time to put together, so when you’re just starting out – download every plant based meal planner you can find and start creating a list of your own! If you’re busy like me, set aside one day to do it all, plan, shop and prep! It’s a life saver!
Tip # 4 – Ask questions!
Make social media your friend. There are tons of WFPB & Vegan groups online that you can join to ask questions to like-minded people. However, keep in mind that some things work for some and don’t work for others. There is also the ethical debate – some will agree with your standing, others won’t. One question that stirs the pot is in regards to honey… Is it ok to use as a sweetener? Vegans will get heated and say no, but a number of WFPB eaters (myself included) will say YES! because there are many health benefits. So ask questions, but be prepared for some challenging answers (if you’re asking about a touchy subject like honey, sugar or oil).
Tip # 5 – Vitamins & Supplements
One thing to make sure you’re getting is your B12 and Omega 3’s – B12 is a culture that is normally found in the soil – so as a plant based eater you may think you don’t need to supplement because your food comes from the ground. Unfortunately, our soil is sorely depleted of it’s natural nutrients so sorely that it is recommended that everyone (regardless of their dietary choices) should be taking a B12 supplement. You’re Omega 3’s are an essential fatty acid that your body cannot create but is absolutely necessary for good health. Probably one of the most important. They help reduce triglycerides, heart disease and a whole array of different health conditions.
Tip # 6 – Don’t Wing It!
Don’t wing it. Transitioning take planning, prep, and goals. Sit down (with your family if it’s a group effort) and discuss the overall goals. What are you hoping to achieve? Where do you see yourself (and your family) in 1 month, 6 months, 1 year? How will you handle situations where you cannot access your normal foods (ie. Roads trips, family get together, family outings). How will avoid late night munchies or mid-day cravings? Having a solid plan will facilitate the transition and help prevent any ‘relapse’ into the Standard American Diet.
Tip # 7 – Know The Difference!
While many people don’t like labels, fact is, you need to know the difference. Why? Because this will help you plan and prep. Are you going vegan for animal welfare and health, or are you going WFPB for health alone? You can be vegan/WFPB (putting animal welfare before health) or WFPB/Vegan (putting health before animal welfare) or a strict Vegan (focusing only on animal welfare) or strict WFPB (focusing only on health). Many newbies don’t even realize that there is a difference, but there is. You can check out this article to learn the difference. Knowing where you stand will greatly increase your chances of success. For example, Vegans will still consume cookies, chips, sugar and oil because they don’t affect animal welfare. However, WFPB eaters will not consume any of those foods because they negatively impact our health.
Tip # 8 – Don’t Be Hard on Yourself
Another thing I see often is “I caved last night and ate pizza (or ice cream, or cheese, or anything not vegan / WFPB). Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t feel guilty. Don’t dwell on it. It’s really not a big deal. It’s NOT failure!! You’re human. Some will struggle more than others. Just dust yourself off and jump right back into your vegan / WFPB lifestyle. Personally, I’ll still eat a couple bites of cheese every 3-6 months. Do I feel awful and pity myself for it? Absolutely not! I’m not eating it every day, I’m eating a tiny amount and only 2-3 times a year. I’m still benefiting from my WFPB lifestyle and that one little bit of cheese is not going to derail my entire lifestyle. Fact is, as long as your diet is 80% plant based (and higher) then you’re still going to benefit from it. The good outweighs the bad. The healthy outweighs the unhealthy. You’ll be fine, so don’t feel like a failure. Life is too short to worry about falling off the wagon a couple times a year.
So there you have it! Get out there, live healthy and be happy! You’ll eventually master your newly chosen lifestyle. Embrace it and it will embrace you. You’ve got this! I know you can do it! Stay healthy and be happy friends!
Until Next Time!