There has been much debate over what diet is the best and what the next “fad” diet might be. I am not a dietitian, but I’ve tried a few different diets over the past few years. In the post below, I’d like to share some thoughts about my 30-day vegan experience. The main concept was to cut meat and dairy from my diet. Currently, I am well past the 30-day mark, the point you need to go beyond to incorporate a routine into your life. After you hit the 30-day mark, you’ve had some success and a feel for what might lie ahead.
If you want success, don't make your nutrition a New Year's resolution.Listed below are a few insights on going vegan and starting a new "diet".
The first thing I'd like to address is to stop viewing your diet as a "diet."The notion of a diet makes it seem temporary, something you want to do for a short period of time and then revert back to your old ways. Instead, consider it a lifestyle change.
Now, you think you may have it all figured out but guess what? You still haven't started. Even if you have various food preps in mind, its a lot harder when you are beginning to apply it to reality. My recommendation is to slowly ease into it and look up a handful of simple recipes. Start by making a few changes, integrate more vegetables and grains into each meal or substitute meat with beans and legumes. A good first step can be to use almond or soy milk instead of dairy milk in your cereal.
Second, you have to be serious about your nutrition. You don't want to fail. You need a catalyst to make it work – so do you have goals or are you doing this spontaneously? Don't be like most of society and give up before you start. Don't sell yourself short. The reason I went vegan is that I found it interesting how meat and dairy have become staple foods while cardiac disease has become the leading cause of mortality and morbidity. Since our health is influenced by what we eat, might there be a correlation between high consumption of meat and dairy products and cardiac disease? Possibly. Overall, I started a plant-based diet to improve my overall well-being. I merely think that it is the healthier option.
The meals will consist purely of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and legumes. The first week you’ll find yourself eating a lot of repetitive meals due to your lack of knowledge of food choices and ingredients. It can get quite dull, unfortunately. The best approach is to learn from those original recipes about different types of vegetables and grains. There is a vast variety of foods out there and even more dishes to create. Instead of always following the same recipe, change a few things up to create fresh flavors.
When shopping for food, don't have tunnel vision. Most of the time similar foods are located in the same vicinity. These foods can spark a little curiosity, and with a quick google search it can lead to a tasty new meal.
Don't forget dessert! We all need some sugar in our lives. Plenty of sweets don't contain dairy. In the same way, you don't want your life to stagnate; you don't want your meals to always consist of the same flavors. Change is a good thing. Seize it in your life and build it into your lifestyle!
Your weight. It’s that dreaded number that just doesn't want to go down. When you hear the term “weight loss,” it is usually correlated with some kind of diet and exercise. Naturally, cutting out meat and dairy will lead to weight loss – but there’s a catch. You don’t want to replace meat and dairy with sugar and processed foods. You also don't want to starve your body and under eat. An appropriate number of calories are needed for energy, long-term weight loss, and survival. If you eat clean, plant-based foods, you will shed the pounds without putting them back on.
Don’t focus too much on carbs, because they will be a significant portion of your diet. I'm sure everyone knows about the association between “carbs” and weight gain. It is irrelevant here. The carbs you'll be eating are clean.
You also want to live a little, so enjoy some processed carbs on occasion. (My personal favorites are Oreos.) I didn’t become vegan to lose weight; it just became a passenger on my journey.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you won’t give up. Before you know it, you’ll not only have changed your diet; you'll have changed your lifestyle – and taken an entirely new road. The key to success is consistency. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your new way of eating will become a habit. Give it time, and it will be like clockwork. What I found helpful is eating out on occasion. It provides a break from your routine, but one that won’t break your plant-based lifestyle. Explore foods, and make them fun and satisfying. Stay consistent, stay motivated, and stay healthy.
Overall, my plant-based diet has treated me well. Coming from a mostly meat and dairy dietary lifestyle, it was difficult for me to change – but I was able to do it, and so will you. I can honestly say that I feel healthier, higher energy levels, and sharper focus. I highly recommend buying a juicer and juicing at least a few times a week, if not once a day. There are so many food alternatives to meat and dairy! Try to at least cut down on them if you can’t get rid of them entirely.
Adapting to a plant-based diet has been an enlightening journey, and I plan to continue it for the long run.
I wish you great success on your own journey!
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