Starting a vegan diet is a fun and enjoyable process, but first you should ask yourself a question – Why am I starting this diet? If it is because of the immense amount of health benefits that come with the diet, then it is okay to be more lenient. If you are starting the diet more because of the want to help animals, then the diet will be a little more strict. Just read the guide, check out the links we provide, and don’t get too scared because it really is a great process.
What is vegan?-
The vegan diet sprouted from the vegetarian diet. Although this diet has been around for thousands of years, the term vegetarian did not start until the mid-1800s. This diet varied quite a bit depending on who you asked about it. One side of the vegetarians thought the diet should only consist of foods from a plant origin like vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts, grains, and more. The other side thought that dairy products and eggs should be vegetarian as well. Vegetarianism was a very tough subject for a few good decades, then a guy by the name of Donald Watson came along and thought of a new diet called vegan. He took the middle part of vegetarian out and left it with veg
etari an. He also said that this new diet excluded honey, meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs.
Health vs. Ethics and Environment-
There are many upsides to going vegan for both your own health, and the environment. The vegan diet will severely decrease your chances of heart disease, obesity, and many kinds of cancer depending on how much you consume per day. For some it is easy to exceed and there are no signs that you have gone past your limit of consumption. Others can eat plenty of all these foods and be perfectly fine. There really are no warnings that you have gone past your limit, until it is too late.
Along with the good digestive system that comes with being vegan, you will also lose some weight and become leaner. A diet based on fruit, vegetables, and grains will definitely help get your summer body ready, but remember that if you are working out to continue to take in proteins or you will lose much of your energy.
Now to the environmental side of things. Growing food directly for human use has become a large issue throughout the world. Even if you do not have an issue with the ethics side of farmed animal production, there is a huge case to be made for the environmental part. First, a huge amount of animal feed does not end up becoming a good cut of chicken breast, or a big glass of milk, but it does end up as manure. Factory farmed pigs and feedlot cattle are being feed at least five pounds of grain for every pound of meat that us humans will get back. Along with the large amount of manure, between blood, bones, and skin, about 30 percent of the animal that was killed is inedible. It is common environmental sense that a vegan diet needs less resources to feed the same amount of people. A study by Earthsave showed that it takes about 2500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef burger. This same amount of water could grow more than 50 pounds of fruits and vegetables.
Now that you see veganism is a two front war with both health and environment/ethics now let’s look at how to start your perfect vegan diet.
First Steps To Getting Rid of Meat-
All of this might look a little daunting to you, but really it’s not all too hard to start, especially if you live in an urban area. Going vegan is extremely fun because you get to explore new food options, and the rewards start coming in within the first few weeks. There are a few main things that you should do when starting the diet that will make it go a lot smoother. First, start a meal plan. Every Sunday plan out what you will be eating through the week, and make a list of ingredients you should buy. This will make it easier when you don’t have the time to stop at your local Whole Foods during the week, because the food will already be practically made in your fridge. Here is a great three week vegan meal plan.
Eating Out and Cooking Vegan-
It takes roughly 21 times of doing anything to make it a habit, so the first 21 days are naturally the most important when starting the vegan diet. The best way to make the diet a habit is to plan ahead and map out these important times. In a busy day of the week when you do not have time to cook up a vegan meal it is easy to simply look up “vegan restaurants near me” or “vegan stores” which will lead you right to great places to eat and explore. Also, here is a directory for vegan and vegetarian shopping near you. During the weekend when you have plenty of time to meal plan and to purchase food for the week it is always fun to visit the local farmer’s market where almost everything is vegan. Here are two great resources to use where looking for local farmer’s markets. Local Harvest and Local Food Directories. Also, there are many great vegan cookbooks out there, but here are just a few to try out; But I Could Never Go Vegan!, The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Over 100 Vegan Recipes, Forks Over Knives – Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating, and Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.
Once the habit of being vegan has started it is always a good idea to customize your home to fit this new diet. Many things can contain non-vegan materials ranging from shampoo to dish detergent. Most soaps contains almost all animal fat, the same with dish and laundry detergent, but it is easy to find vegetable substitutes that will go well with your vegan diet. For shampoo and conditioner I recommend using Maui Moisture. Here you can find shampoo Coconut Milk Shampoo, Vanilla Bean Shampoo, Shea Butter Shampoo and for conditioner Coconut Milk Conditioner and Vanilla Bean Conditioner. For dish and laundry detergent I recommend Sun and Earth Cleaners. They only use natural ingredients, and they do not use animal products. Here is Natural Laundry Detergent, Dishwashing Liquid, and Natural All- Purpose Cleaner.
Staying motivated is the best part about the vegan diet because it means that you have made it through the toughest part. It is sometimes hard to eat healthy and continue forward, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself out. First, join clubs and get out there. After joining a club you will begin hear other people’s stories and it will keep you wanting to move forward. You can search for vegan meet ups on Meetup.com, and join social media clubs on Facebook. These people will provide support and help you all the way through the process of starting the diet, and keeping one. Another great thing to do is to read vegan oriented books. This will keep you interested in being vegan because you will always be learning so much more about it. You can also go to Mercy For Animals to directly help with the cause.
Being Happy With Progress-
As more and more effort has been given to being vegan it is always smart to stop and look at where you came from. Stopping and surveying how well you’ve done will not only provide encouragement, but also help you decide what to do next in the vegan community. One of the best ways to be happy with progress is to ask yourself questions. Ask things like “What fruits and vegetables did I recently eat that I had never enjoyed before?” or “What vegan-friendly restaurants have I dined at that I didn’t know about in the past?” Both of these put what you have accomplished into perspective, and really show how well you’ve done. You have completely change your way of life and you should be extremely proud.
Continue On and Have Fun-
Being vegan is all about having fun with it. If it becomes a daily grind and struggle then slow down and become a little less rigid with the diet. It is okay to sometimes not be 100 percent vegan. Actually nobody is ever 100 percent vegan, there are so many non-vegan products out there it is near impossible to stop using everything. Bottom line, meet new people, try new foods, and help new people start this awesome diet.