Last year I wrote about beginning to transition to a vegetarian diet. If you are ready to take the next step and have decided this is the right choice for you, here are five ways to get started with a vegan diet. These tips follow the steps from the previous post.
Start Fading Fish from Your Diet
Fish was hard to give up because I loved sushi! I started using mock meats and substitutes such as tofu & tempeh. I used the same formula for meats and other animals; I started eating fish only three times a week for a month and only if I prepared it at home. When I went out, I would order a vegetarian or vegan meal. After a few months, I was able to only eat fish once a week and soon stopped completely.
Substitute Milk and other Dairy for Soy or Almond Milk
There are many products out there to replace dairy. I started with almond and rice milk, cheeses, ice cream, butter, etc.
Tofu, Your New Best Transitional Choice!
Learning to prepare and enjoy tofu can be challenging. But with the right recipes or going to the right restaurants, one can soon enjoy tofu. I found that the best tofu recipes can be found at Asian restaurants like Japanese, Korean, Chinese, etc. I also learned that the trick to preparing tofu at home is marinating it for about 4 to 8 hours in your favorite sauce. I used to copy the recipes from my favorite restaurants and prepared them at home. It’s important to know the different textures tofu is sold and how it is used. Most brands have a picture of how to use tofu depending on its texture. Silken is most commonly used in puddings and smoothies, firm and extra form for frying baking, etc.
Photo by: avlxyz
Read it: No Animal Bi-Products
Once I found out that I was allergic to dairy, I stopped consuming dairy products. However, I was not aware that hundreds of packaged foods have dairy. For example, crackers and you good-old-plain saltines have dairy. It’s important to read the labels of packaged foods even if they are labeled vegetarian.
Learn to Order Vegan Dishes in Non-Vegan/Non-Vegetarian Restaurants
Photo by: rusvaplauke
This is one of the tips that saved me, learning how to order a healthy meal at an unhealthy restaurant. Whenever I went out to eat, I would ask the waiter/waitress for any vegan or vegetarian dishes so that I wouldn’t have to read the entire menu. I have yet to find a restaurant that doesn’t have a vegetarian or vegan alternative. If they didn’t have a dish, I would make one on my own. For example, every restaurant offers side dishes, baked potatoes, side vegetables, fruit plates, etc. So I would order three sides and a house salad which usually didn’t include meats or dairy. Because I was allergic to dairy, I would always ask for no butter or cheese in any of the side dishes and would let them know of my allergies.
One of the biggest challenges is learning to change your habits, and enjoy the transition. If it is done right, it will be very rewarding. Any time I made changes to my diet and lifestyle, I made sure to visit my doctor to monitor my health.
It is important not to judge others and preach. We’re all different and what works for one person, may not work for someone else. So love your family and friends the way they are and don’t try to convert anyone. Just because you made a choice, doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for others.
Have fun & don’t stress!
- Vegan with a Vengeance: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
- The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert O. Young
- Vegetarian Times Vegetarian Beginner’s Guide by the Editors of Vegetarians Times
- Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman
- Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples by John Robbins