Friday, April 18, 2014

Going Vegan: Resources That Helped Me Transition My Diet

In light of a few close friends and family members of mine deciding to give veganism a go, I thought I would compile some resources for them to have to ease their transition to this amazing lifestyle!
I was absolutely that person that said phrases like "I could never give up bacon!" "But I love cheese soooo much!" I never thought that one day out of the blue I would make the decision to stop eating animal based foods. My biggest reason for eliminating all of those foods was my health. I've read countless articles a few books that all determine eating a plant based diet is one of the healthiest things you could do for your body. There is no cholesterol to worry about, you will lose weight, ward of diseases, lower blood pressure, plus so much more. But for those who worry that it may not come so easy to them, here is some extra resources to help ease your transition to a plant based diet.

First and foremost, I would recommend doing your research. I'm not the kind of person who jumps in to things blindly, I like having my facts straight and being able to weigh the pros and cons of any decision. Also, as a disclaimer, if you have any major health concerns, always a good idea to consult with your doctor before making any major changes!

Here are several things that I have found useful as a new vegan :) 

Forks Over Knives
Food, Inc.

All of these documentaries primarily focus on the health aspects of veganism, but they do include graphic images regarding the nature of how our food is acquired. If that is part of your concern, I would also suggest watching Earthlings. I couldn't finish it because of how violent it was. I don't need more than a couple of minutes of watching that to know I made the right decision for myself.

Main Street Vegan

 I loved this book because it appealed to your every day person. The author approaches veganism in a way that anyone could relate to, vegan or otherwise.

I have also just started reading "Living Among Meat Eaters: A Vegetarian Survival Guide"

  I thought the title was silly, but it is actually very relevant. I won't lie, sometimes the social aspect of being a vegan can be difficult. Friends start apologizing for eating meat in front of you, family thinks you're totally bananas, people get defensive for no reason because they think you're going to lecture or judge them for their dietary choices. All of this comes along with the territory, unfortunately, so you need to find the best way to answer politely and not become "that vegan".
Here is the description provided by the author's website. 

"An invisible meat eater/vegetarian dynamic exists. Left unacknowledged it traps both groups in social interactions that can be painful and upsetting: conversations that become arguments; interactions that become confrontations; meals that exclude vegetarians; friends who sabotage them; nonvegetarian lovers who alienate them. Living Among Meat Eaters guides vegetarians through these sticky situations with friends, relatives, co-workers, waitstaff, and partners. Whereas meat eaters may be surprised that such a book is necessary, vegetarians will understand immediately. Nothing prepares us for the reactions our vegetarianism prompts from the larger meat-eating culture. Nothing, that is, until now."

However radical they are, have some great resources on their website for your viewing pleasure.

Vegan food and lifestyle bloggers save my life every day when it comes to finding delicious recipes to make that are totally vegan as well as providing other kinds of information and useful tools!
Oh She Glows
The Blonde Vegan 
Logical Harmony

NxtNutrio - Bar code scanner that you can customize to your dietary preferences, and will alert you if the product you scan contains any of the restricted ingredients you choose.

Is It Vegan?  - Similar to NxtNutrio, but not as extensive

VeganFinder - Locates vegan or vegan friendly restaurants near you! (SO handy!)

Cruelty-Free - Extensive list of companies who are cruelty-free 

 Looking at this list, I can see how it could be easy to get overwhelmed with the copious amounts of information your brain needs to process, but my best advice is to take it one day at a time. If you slip up at first, don't beat yourself up! You're learning a completely different lifestyle than one you have led your entire life. Do not get discouraged.

Do not let others influence your decision on way or the other. You're doing this for YOU and only you. However, DO be open and honest with those closest to you about your new adventure, and let them how much their support means to you and your success.

Know that you have OPTIONS! There are TONS of vegan alternatives to everything you love and hold dear. There are vegan alternatives to: cheese, chorizo, chicken, beef, milk, chocolate, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, doughnuts, muffins, pastas, pizzas, and the list goes on forever. That doesn't mean you should eat all of this all the time obviously, though. Focus on eating whole foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans.

Finally, if someone offers you a bite of their steak, or your boss brings in doughnuts for the office, just smile and politely say "no, thank you :) "

For my fellow vegans, what helped you make the transition? I'd love to hear about it!

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