My Struggles & Successes Switching To A Vegan Diet
Turning into a vegan diet can be easy if you’re mentally prepared or hard as hell if you aren’t. I wasn’t ready to become fully vegan, and I suffered the consequences.
Switching to a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPBD) has never been so easy. With a click of a button, you can have a grocery list, recipes for every meal of your day, and even which nutrients you should supplement as a vegetarian or vegan.
I’m Virgo, so I tend to take most things to the extreme. When I learned about how animals are treated and die in slaughterhouses, I went vegetarian “cold turkey”. I didn’t know anything about what vegetarians eat, what they need to supplement, what’s their protein source — none of them. I had just decided I wouldn’t eat any piece of animal flesh, and that was it.
Image by Camila Santiago
I felt I needed to learn how to eat again — like a baby learning how to speak? — so Google became my best friend. Questions were ranging from what are the daily nutrients I need to take as a new plant-eater to how can I replace meat in my meals?
In the beginning, there’s a lot of trial and error, tons of new information to process and incorporate into a new lifestyle that in my case, I decided to adopt from one day to the another.
After I started to educate myself and I was happy and confident eating a vegetarian diet, I was ready to become fully vegan. Now I could avoid the mistakes I’ve made when I switched to a vegetarian diet.
That said, if you’re starting out, there a few things you should know, and I’m going to share some of the main steps you should take so that you can avoid the mistakes and struggles I went through.
Familiarise Yourself With a Vegan Diet
When I went vegetarian all the way, and I didn’t know much about what to eat, I lived out of Frech fries, salad, and cheese. It took me some time to introduce healthy options like vegetables, legumes, and fruits into my diet.
Educate yourself and get familiar with what plant-eaters eat (whether it’s a vegetarian or raw vegan), what options are available to you, and so on.
Learn About Nutrients
If you want to become a healthier plant-based eater, make sure to know all the nutrients you might need to supplement, which food you might need to add to your diet in order to achieve your daily intake of certain nutrients and avoid deficiency. Vitamin B12, iron, and calcium are examples of nutrients that are often missed on a vegan diet.
Start A Collection Of Recipes
Get familiar with the main vegan YouTubers, get serious about bringing your recipes from Pinterest into life, follow vegan Instagram accounts, and maybe buy some cookbooks. With the massive availability of plant foods, we can create an endless number of delicious vegan food.
Learn About Vegan Substitution and Options
More than learning how to replace meat in your meals, if you’re going fully vegan, you’ll need to know how to substitute dairy in your recipes. Have fun trying plant-based milk, get familiar with reading labels and try out vegan versions of your fave food.
Be Easy On Yourself
This is maybe the most important step. You don’t have to be extreme like me and go “cold turkey”. That’s how things work for me, and I feel more comfortable going from one extreme to the other. If you aren’t wired this way, get to know yourself.
If you can just stop eating meat once a week, so it be — then try Meat Free Monday. After that, you can slowly reduce your meat and dairy intake to twice and three times a week. There’s no such thing as right or wrong, so check what works best for you and follow your rhythm.