So, you’ve decided to transition to a vegan diet!
The reason may be driven by health, ethical, or environmental concerns, or a mix of all three. In this article, we’ll focus on how you can make the transition as simple and effective as possible.
Veganism is a lifestyle, and like any major lifestyle change, it takes time and patience to implement. We’ll cover different topics such as mindset changes, taking stock of where you’re currently, and experimenting with different options before you find what you are looking for. So, let’s get started!
- Start slowly by tracking current habits: For the first week, track your daily food intake. Try to note down everything you eat, mealtimes, and emotions surrounding each meal. You can use a good old paper journal for this or choose from any of the apps available on the market. You can also create a list of foods that you currently love eating. These may not seem related to veganism at first glance, but the more you normalize the transition, the easier it’ll be to integrate it into your daily life.
Try to keep reminding yourself that we are not changing anything right now. It’s all about learning our own patterns and recognizing habits.
- The next step is when we start to find what vegan options are available to us and what we might like. Availability will depend on where you live and what can be sourced easily from your location, so that’s worth keeping in mind. Gathering vegan recipes is useful at this stage. Educate yourself on the possibilities and find a few that resonate with you the most. Sample as many vegan meals as you like.
You can also start building your very own recipe book and list meals according to your preference, cost-effectiveness, and simplicity. Again, at this stage, we are only exploring our options.
Now that you have tracked your daily habits and listed alternative vegan options, let’s move on to how you can use them.
1) Replacing traditional food items with vegan options –
- Find vegan alternatives to foods such as meat, dairy, fish, honey, and eggs – Vegan cafes are becoming more popular for all the right reasons. Vegan cheese, cakes, and plant-based milk are also easily available, and tofu can be used as a substitute for cottage cheese.
We understand how overwhelming it can be to try to do it all by yourself. At The Whole Experience, we believe in guiding you through your journey, irrespective of what your end goal is. Our upcoming app is full of vegetarian and vegan dishes that are easy to make and don’t require a ton of time either. All our recipes come with tips to modify them as per your needs. We include nutritional information, and the ingredients are customized according to portion size. We’re working on so many exciting updates behind the scenes!
- Swapping one animal product at a time with a vegan alternative is a good starting point – For example, you can substitute regular milk with any plant-based milk. Almond milk is very versatile and can be used as a replacement in almost every dish. However, don’t try to change a lot of things at once. One ingredient is more than enough, to begin with.
- Swap one meal a day with a vegan dish: You don’t have to replace every meal with vegan options straight away. Instead, how about replacing one meal a day, whether that’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks? Snacks are easier to replace as they don’t require elaborate planning, and vegan alternatives are relatively simple to source as well.
At our retreats, we serve wholesome vegetarian food that nourishes both body and mind. Just like our app that promotes clean eating, our special chefs whip up delicious and simple local food that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face! For more information on our upcoming retreats.
- Set realistic goals – If you are replacing one meal, do it for a week before implementing any other changes. If you are replacing a particular ingredient, again stick to it for a few days before adding anything else. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much at once.
2) Gather Supplies
Learning how to shop for groceries and produce can be a bit of a challenge in the beginning. When we are used to picking up anything we find on the supermarket shelves without paying attention to what it is, we run the risk of mindless eating. When you’re transitioning to a vegan diet, this can be even more challenging. But don’t fret; we got you!
- Learn to read food labels – This is going to be an essential skill when you go grocery shopping. Depending on which country you’re from, you might have to educate yourself a little on what the food regulatory bodies say in your region. Usually, companies are required to be transparent about their ingredients. Products need to be marked ‘vegan/vegetarian’ if they don’t contain animal products, and the packaging should have detailed information on its content along with nutritional values. We also need to check for trace elements that may be present.
- Plan your grocery shopping – follow the tried and tested method of not going food shopping hungry. When you’re swapping a few items at a time, you don’t need to spend a lot of time at the supermarket. You can pick up what you need and go straight to the checkout counter.
Knowing how to shop vegan-friendly products and learning how to use them in our diet can be difficult initially but so worth it in the long run.
Mindset & Support
Mindset is key to changing any long-standing habits. This section will focus on how we can alter our thinking patterns to set us up for success.
- Know your reasons: People choose to shift to a vegan lifestyle for many reasons. Eventually, how successful your transition is will depend on how well thought out your plan is. Knowing your reason can make the process easier, starting you off on the right foot.
- Understand what a vegan diet looks like to you: One size doesn’t fit all. Any diet needs to be modified according to individual preferences, food allergies, and requirements. So, how does the process look like for you? This will require a bit of reflection on your part and it’s a continuous process.
- Reject an all-or-nothing mentality: If you’ve been eating animal products all your life, going cold turkey is not a good idea. From a nutritional perspective too, when we suddenly stop the intake of a certain nutrient and don’t substitute it with an alternative, it can impact our health negatively. Therefore, it’s important to work with a professional who can help you find vegan substitutes to what you’re used to eating.
Preferences are also important to look at. If you’ve never liked the taste of a particular food, don’t force yourself to eat it just because its vegan. Certain vegan foods may be an acquired taste. You’ll have to try different things before you know what works for you.
- Accept that you’ll encounter roadblocks: Try to be patient with yourself. Because of how individualized this journey is, it might take a while to figure out what works for you. Aim to be in it for the long haul!
- Find a support system: It’s important to have a like-minded community that you can rely on for support. Encouragement is essential and surrounding yourself with individuals who lift you up is equally necessary.
At The Whole Experience, we have worked on building an inclusive community of women from all over the world. We’re excited to announce new memberships options where we’ll foster this community aspect even further. Check out our upcoming coaching programs here.
- Monitor your progress and review weekly: keeping tabs on your progress will help you know when something is not working out and how to pivot in those circumstances.
To sum up, whatever your reason for going vegan is, and irrespective of where you are in your journey, we’re proud of you for choosing to make a difference to the world and your health! Go slow, reflect and be ready to change your approach, and you’ll not only change your life but might also serve as an inspiration to others! Good luck!