Less than a few decades ago, vegetarianism was rare in the United States and veganism was almost unheard of. Now, studies show that over five percent of the population of the country practices vegetarianism, and half of that number are dedicated vegans. There are a number of reasons that people are choosing the vegan lifestyle, and if you are ready to make the switch, you may find the transition challenging. However, going vegan should be a positive experience, especially if you expect to stick with it, and there are several ways to make the switch a smooth one.
1. Do Not Announce Your Plans to Go Vegan
You are most likely going vegan for personal reasons, so there is no need to make your plans public. Announcing your intentions to go vegan, whether you tell your family in person or announce it on social media, can only result in a huge amount of unwanted advice and opinions about your decision. This may lead you to second guess yourself and your motivations, which only delays the transition. Instead of focusing on making any announcements, focus on your changing diet and how it can bring about positive changes in your life.
2. Start Simple
Going vegan does not mean you have to run out and buy an armload of cookbooks or attempt a bunch of complicated recipes. In fact, the transition does not even have to be immediate. Your best chances of making the switch and sticking with it is by starting off slowly and add more fruits and vegetables to your diet. For example, if you eat a lot of potatoes and rice, replace these starchy foods with lentils or legumes. Not only are lentils one of the staples of a vegan diet, they also have many health benefits and are high in protein.
3. Become a Flavor Expert
A lot of people view vegan dishes as being bland or not being as flavorful as those with meat, but in truth, there are many ingredients you can include in vegan recipes that will satisfy your cravings as you make the transition from meat eater to vegan. Some of these ingredients include ripe avocado, walnuts, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and a variety of flavor-rich olives. Experiment with these flavors to create savory vegan dishes, and you may just surprise yourself with what you come up with.
If you are unsure of how to begin when it comes to experimenting with different flavors, there are many vegan recipes and chat sites online that might help you get started. Recipes with simple bases that include vegan hummus are plentiful, and the more open you make yourself to experimentation with these foods, the more varied your new diet will become.
4. Explore Condiment Substitutes
Depending on the level of veganism you plan to practice, the consumption of eggs, dairy foods, and processed seasonings may be forbidden. Because some common condiments and bases include these ingredients, such as mayonnaise, you may want to explore alternative foods. For example, Hampton Creek offers a number of products that are made with pea protein instead of animal products, including mayo and salad dressing. Chia seeds, flax oil, and unprocessed sea salt are all viable substitutes for seasoning your vegan dishes.
5. Keep an Open Mind
One of the quickest ways to talk yourself out of sticking with your vegan diet is to make the transition with a negative attitude. Thoughts such as “this is never going to work” or “I know I will hate the food choices” can sabotage your efforts. Instead of focusing on what you might not like about going vegan, look at the positive aspects and the possible benefits it might bring you.
In order to keep an open mind, look into busting some of the myths about going vegan. Many people believe that the food options are so limited that eating will become a bland, uninspired experience but never bother to find out otherwise. Before you believe something someone tells you about vegan food, try it for yourself. You may find a new favorite dish and maintain a positive attitude about your new lifestyle at the same time.
Switching to a vegan diet does present its challenges. However, if you take the time to focus on finding flavorful vegan dishes and educating yourself about which foods may yield the tastiest flavors, the transition may not be as difficult. Be open to trying new foods as they come out, talk to other vegans about what dishes they recommend, and most of all, have fun with the experience of switching to this healthy and unique way of eating.