Written by: Marissa
In my past, I have experimented with many different diets and ways of eating. I always have been a self proclaimed foodie, and I absolutely love food. It has so many wonderful benefits: bringing people together by eating in the company of others, sparking conversation, and creating culinary masterpieces in the kitchen. Most importantly, food can be used to nourish our bodies from the inside out. Creating a healthy balance from within creates an undeniable glow on the outside!
This past winter, I decided to fully commit to a vegan diet. As a mindfulness practitioner, I want to live a healthy life without causing harm to others. I craved a deeper connection to my food, so I cultivated a diet promoting plant based living. Veganism was the perfect avenue to start my new food journey. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, veganism is a diet that avoids all animal products. This includes any form of meat, poultry, eggs or dairy products. Most vegans aim to eat a wholesome, plant-based diet, centered around the bounty of the earth.
My veganism transition started small. The first step was the elimination of fish (I was already almost fully vegetarian). The second step was finding delicious dairy-free alternatives to add to my diet (this is easy if you live in the United States. Thanks, Whole Foods!). After eliminating dairy completely, my body already felt a huge difference. I felt lighter, healthier, and less tired than before. The larger step for me was eliminating a number of processed foods. Again, not all vegans eliminate al processed foods; there are many delicious vegan snacks available (including the beloved Oreo)! But I figured that to deal with my constant snacking, this was the best lifestyle change in the moment. The elimination of processed foods re-focused my cravings around natural sources of sweetness. I cannot explain the joy of reaching for a handful of dried fruits instead of a sugary granola bar! Being connected to your body through food is a wonderful way to reset your eating habits. My stomach, mind, and body have all created a unique harmony through this way of living.
If you are thinking of making the switch, this article is a good place to start. My best advice is to focus on making one change at a time. Always go at your own pace and decide which food items to take out first. Luckily, the world is becoming more and more vegan-friendly. The amount of dairy and meat substitutes found all over the world have been gaining momentum via high consumer demand. Vegan options have never been as easy to grasp in our own super markets.
Below, I have listed tips for transitioning to a more plant-based lifestyle. Due to high demand, I have provided my favorite oatmeal recipes to give your morning a cruelty-free kickstart! Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and should be enjoyed on a regular basis. Hooray for health and best of luck on your journey!
Tips for Going Vegan:
- Learn the benefits of eating fewer animal products – Education is your friend! Look into the production and costs of animal products. The internet has a number of reputable websites and articles regarding the benefits of veganism. Over time, you will develop your own reason for being vegan, which will be a key motivation driver for your switch. Marissa’s Tip: Try reading Eating Animals, The China Study, and Vegan – The New Ethics of Eating.
- Try new vegan products weekly – When you’re out shopping at the grocery store, look for vegan substitutes for your favorite products. You will find that many of these products taste the same (if not better!) than regular products. Marissa’s Tip: Switch out your yogurt for a yogurt that uses coconut milk instead for a sweet treat!
- Try subbing out a few processed snacks with wholesome foods – Swap out the chips for something savory that will keep you full. Processed foods are made to be addicting and seduce our cravings. Marissa’s Tip: Create a healthy trail mix of raw almonds, raw unsalted cashews, dried apricots, and dates for a balance of sweetness and good fats!
- Have a Meatless Monday – Make one day out of the week a completely meatless day. Even if it’s just one meal, it’s a wonderful start towards being more plant-based. Marissa’s Tip: Instead of using ground meat in sauces, swap it out for cooked lentils. Adding lentils to a sauce will give it a protein rich hit that is ever so savory!
- Remind yourself of your purpose: A goal is more likely to be accomplished if there is a key motivator. Remind yourself of your purpose for being plant-based on a daily basis. Marissa’s Tip: Write down your health affirmation(s) on a note card and carry it around with you/keep it somewhere you can see.
- Peanut Butter Cup Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, 2 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter, 2 teaspoons of cacao powder, and a splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk.
- Berry Lover Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, a splash of almond milk, a handful of blueberries, a sliced banana, strawberries, and chia seeds. Yum!
- Apple Pie Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats–cook oats on the stove and cut up a red apple. Add slices of apple to the pot on the stove. Continue cooking. Add sprinkles of cinnamon to the mix. Remove from heat and add almond milk and a teaspoon of coconut oil. (Tastes like Autumn!)
- Go Bananas Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, almond milk, one sliced banana, 2 tablespoons of almond butter, and spoonful of flax seeds. Filling and yummy!
- Agave Sunrise Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, almond milk, 2 teaspoons of agave, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, and a handful of blueberries.
- Tropical Treat Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, almond milk, sliced mango, a handful of cashews, and a sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.
- Peanut Butter and Jelly Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, almond milk, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of raspberry jelly or jam, and a few sliced red grapes.
- Pineapple and Mint Oatmeal: ½ or 1 cup of rolled oats, almond milk, a few pieces of sliced pineapple, mango slices, and a few mint leaves. Very refreshing!