You made the decision, you’re going vegan! Yaay!
So, what now?
You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information going at you. Don’t worry, I’m going to give you some pointers to get started. You don’t need to follow my advice to the teeth. Do what feels good for you. I don’t want you to feel pressured or that you can’t handle it. YOU CAN DO THIS. You deserve to be doing this and you’re totally worth it. See your transition into veganism as a transformation, the road to a better you. A road where you embrace love, empathy and respect. You don’t have to be ‘the perfect vegan’ right from the start (and is that even a thing?). Be kind to yourself, just like you are to the animals from the moment you made this decision. You are contributing to a better world, one step at a time.
YOU CAN DO THIS. You deserve to be doing this and you’re totally worth it.
What to eat?
In my humble opinion the biggest impact you can make as a vegan is to stop eating animal products. So what is left to eat? Let’s take a look at the vegan foodpyramid (yes it’s a thing):
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The vegan food pyramid is your handy tool to make recipes on a daily basis! As you can see the majority of your foodintake should come from fruits and vegetables. Whole grains like whole-grain pasta, whole-grain breads, oatmeal shouldn’t be forgotten as well. Leafy greens are important for your iron-intake, so I wouldn’t skip on those. Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils,… are good proteinsources. High-fat whole foods are ofcourse allowed but in smaller portions. You can use these foods to make sauces, toppings, or just eat them whole as a snack or sidedish.
Getting hungry? I know I am!
In the disclaimer of the vegan food pyramid you see that they recommend to include vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a necessary vitamin, as it is essential for the proper functioning and health of nerve tissue, brain function, and red blood cells. You can learn more about vitamin B12 here.
You can take a vitamin supplement or try to make up for it by using certain plantmilks. Personally I drink a lot of soymilk (I’m a coffee-addict and yes I need that vanilla-soymilk), so I take my vitamin supplement 2-3 times a week. I also had my blood tested a couple of months ago, where my levels of B12 were in the normal range. I do recommend to get a blood test beforehand so you are aware of any deficiencies you may have (yes, meat-eaters and omnivores are also at risk for certain deficiencies). Another tip is to get a bloodtest after 6 months, 1 year, and then you can just take one yearly or whatever fits you best.
Take it easy
Feel overwhelmed? That’s totally normal. It is a lot to take in, and a lot of things you suddenly have to look out for. Maybe you can’t even eat your favorite chips anymore because it contains milkpowder (I’m not joking, I’ve been there!). But let’s not focus on that. Instead let’s focus on things you feel you are able to do now. For instance, if you feel like cutting meat and dairy and cheese and eggs is too much for you, start with cutting out meat first. Then move on to dairy products. I found it easy to switch my milks first because I liked drinking coffee. Stop buying eggs next and find substitutes for the dishes you like to use them for. Or maybe you start noticing you don’t need them at all in your dish. Once you get used to leaving out eggs and substituting milks, you can start looking at your processed foods. This step is the most intense, because you will need to read labels. That’s why I eat so many wholefoods, I’m too lazy to read labels.
Another tip I like to give you is not to listen to other people if the only thing they do is lecture you. ‘You’re not a real vegan, because….’ Don’t listen to them! You are transitioning, and everyone has their own pace. You’re still beating anyone who isn’t changing their diet! Clothing choices, washing products, shampoos, make-up,… We’ll worry for that when the time comes. Focus on your diet first. There will be a time where you can’t even imagine you used to eat meat or drink cowsmilk.
Prepare for failure
There will be times where you try several dishes out, and they’ll taste terrible. Or you go out to eat only to find out later that the dish you ate contained butter or cheese. Don’t feel bad about it. Learn from it. Heck, when I went vegan in my first two weeks I’ve discovered so many things I couldn’t eat anymore because I forgot to check. It can be discouraging to find out some of your favorite dishes contain animal products. Those pesky companies sneak them in everything, even foods you wouldn’t expect.
But luckily we live in the times of internet, and I’m sure your favorite dish has a vegan variant on it. Another thing I’ve noticed and it is what kept me going, is that my tastebuds have changed. As the wise Jenny Mustard once said: “You crave what you eat the most of”. Your body needs time to adjust, so give it that. Is the vegan variant perfectly like the original? No. But the more plantbased foods you eat, the more you will find your vegan variant the better version of your favorite dish. And the more you will crave for it, and without the guilt. For example store-bought granola tastes way too sweet for me, so I enjoy it more by making it myself (recipe will be provided later). It’s healthier, cheaper, and so much more yummy.
Eat when you’re hungry, don’t feel bad about it
In my first week of being vegan I experienced hunger. That’s totally normal. Your body isn’t used to eating these low calorie foods, and you’re probably eating the same portionsizes. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t feel bad about it. Again this is your body that’s adjusting. It will figure it out soon. But please don’t deprive yourself from eating. So let’s imprint this once and for all: when you’re hungry, eat!
Have fun with this new lifestyle, experiment and most important: don’t be too hard on yourself!
What I eat mostly in a day to get you started
Breakfast: Oatmeal topped with fruits and cinnamon. Some days I add a small tablespoon of peanutbutter for satiation.
Snack: Soy yoghurt with granola, seeds, coconut flakes, fruits
Lunch: Wraps with a vegan spread like hummus, spinach and cucumber. Seasonings like black pepper, paprikapowder and cayenne are my favorites
Dinner: Whole-grain pasta with homemade pesto-sauce, pinenuts, lettuce and tomatoes
Dessert: Small homemade applepies
I hope I inspired you to transition or at least consider it. If you have any questions, you can leave a comment down below!
Talk to you later, saplings~