Vegans are no longer the crazy ones or the weird people that live on a commune. A 2012 survey showed that about 7% of Americans considered themselves vegan and that number has risen over the past few years. To put that into perspective, recent surveys put the actual LGBT population at about 3.8%. I only mention this to give readers an idea of how many vegans are really out there.
Vegan restaurants and grocery items are on the rise. Those looking to make a profit from food are starting to notice this section of the population has been growing rather rapidly. In 2008, the estimate was only about 3.2% of the population practicing a vegetarian or vegan diet, while in 2012, the number as nearly double at about 7%. It’s estimated that the number of vegans and vegetarians will just continue to rise and has risen quite a bit since 2012.
If you’re interested in becoming vegan, just decided to make the leap or are just curious, here are five quick tips to help you with your food journey.
Start with a Fast
Many of the people interviews on Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead Part 1 & 2 stated that it was easier to eat vegetables and fruits after a juice fast. Some even said they craved them. When you start with a fast, you not only clear your system of harmful toxins and get your body ready for a wonderful plant-based diet, but you also reset your mind and your eating habits. Fasting is a matter of willpower, so you will already be building a mind and body able to make better decisions.
If you don’t want to go full throttle with a juice fast, try a smoothie fast. It’s a bit easier and you don’t waste any of the fruits and vegetables by throwing away the fiber we so desperately need in our bodies.
Set up a Support System
You’re going to have to endure comments from current friends and family unless they are already vegan, so you need a support system. Find a local community group of vegans, go-to vegan restaurants and look online for a support group. Encouragement from people can go a very long way as you change your life for the better.
Those around you won’t understand and they won’t get it. However, after six months or so, they may be asking you for tips on how to become vegan or at least veganish as they see the amazing changes in you.
Stop Worrying About the Typical Diet Stuff
Vegans don’t need to worry about counting calories or nutrients. Just eat and eat as much as you want, but make sure it’s live plants, not garbage. It’s possible to go vegan and eat very poor foods, such as Oreos and other sugary snacks that are vegan. However, veganism is based on eating live plants. You want as many fruits and vegetables as you can cram into your diet, along with some nuts, legumes, whole grains and beans.
You will get plenty of protein, so throw that myth out the window as just about every plant you eat will have protein. Also, you will get every nutrient you need except for B-12, but you can pick up a supplement for B-12 for a few bucks.
As a vegan, you can lose weight, live a happy life, gain muscle and become healthier without having to track your calories or nutrients. Just make sure you are a plant-based vegan and not an Oreo-based vegan!
Fruits and Vegetables are Your Main Courses
Since you don’t want to be an Oreo-based vegan or those known as starch-atarians (filling the void of meat with bread, potatoes, and pasta) fruits and vegetables need to become your main courses. Salads are certainly meals, but you’re not limited at all. You can do so much with vegetables and when you add in the right beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and fruits, you can have a dish even a carnivore would be caught drooling over.
The Vegan Cookbook and The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook are both great choices for beginners. You’ll find some great recipes in both!
Choose Your Pace
We are not all the same and it’s not a competition. It’s about your health and sometimes, you have to go at a pace that fits you. I jumped right in, but I did flirt with flexitarian, pescatarian, and vegetarian shortly before making the leap. Maybe you need to start with flexitarian (eating meat once or twice a week) before going full-on vegan. Maybe it’s dairy you really struggle to give up, so try vegetarian (no meat or fish, but dairy and eggs are fine) first.
Choose your pace, set your goals and move forwards one step at a time. Some of us take leaps because we have longer legs, while others take baby steps. Enjoy your journey and understand, you’re food journey isn’t the same as anybody else’s.
If you’re considering becoming vegan, I am here to help. While I am also a beginner, I am all-in and have been studying it like crazy. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, post them in the comments below and we can all learn on this food journey together.