Now I know what you’re thinking, so before I begin I must state that I’m not one of those vegans. As in, I grew up in a family full of meat eaters so in order to hold my own I’ll never give you the side eye as you eat a burger next to my tofu scramble. However, I’m an advocate for a plant-based diet because I know how it has positively changed my life and my health. So whether you’re thinking about going fully vegan or simply want to add some green to your diet, I’ve compiled my best tips from over ten years of experience.
Take baby steps towards a plant-based diet.
I wasn’t always a full-on vegan, mainly due to my former deep love affair with cheese. Unfortunately, cheese didn’t love me back, so veganism became a necessity on top of an ethical choice. My first tip to anyone who asks is to ease into a plant-based diet. Going from zero to sixty with any lifestyle change can be rattling and cause you to derail if you’re not taking it one step at a time. Start simply and the changes will last.
The power is in the protein.
Everyone’s favorite question seems to be, “well, then what do you eat?!” Typically followed by looking me up and down so as to make sure that I don’t float away. Trust me, I’m healthy, but I’m no shrinking violet. I’ve been able to supplement my protein just fine for over a decade. This can be done in a variety of ways from almond milk to nut butters to legumes and soy products. Don’t fear tofu! Tofu when cooked properly can be a wonderful source of protein, and is so incredibly versatile in how it can be used. You can try silken tofu in smoothies or creamy vegan desserts or firm tofu marinated for meat substitute recipes.
Get sneaky with your greens.
I’ll admit, I was a hard sale when it came to leafy greens. I was a carb-atarian for the first few years of my plant-based diet. One of the best solutions I found to this dilemma was to sneak greens into everyday recipes that would mask the taste I wasn’t a huge fan of. This came from throwing a handful of spinach into my morning smoothie or a scoop of green supplement powder into baked good recipes for added nutrition. Over time, my tastebuds adapted, and if mine can I’m sure anyone’s can.
Have a nutritional passport.
I had the privilege of living in Italy for two summers my first two years of college. However my biggest concern the first time around was what I was going to eat in the land of salami and cheese. I was delighted to find a wealth of vegan options while living abroad, due to an increasing focus on nutrition and healthy living. I feasted on some of the best fresh veggies and fruit and don’t even get me started on the tomatoes. If you open your mind and your palate, traveling on a plant-based diet doesn’t have to be a hamper to your adventure in global cuisine.
Give it a Google.
I’ve found that with a little research and help, I can tend to eat almost anywhere as a vegan. Of course, some places are more accommodating than others. My options are much greater in New York City than they are in my Southern hometown. However, surprises never cease to amaze me and I’ve had several occasions where the variety of vegan options impressed me. Don’t be afraid to politely speak up and ask your server if there is something off the menu that might better suit your dietary choices. A little kindness and patience can go a long way in helping you find a delicious plant-based meal.
Open your mind.
I mentioned previously that I am not that vegan. However, if you care to listen, I’m pretty passionate about my reasons why. It didn’t take much research on the meat industry for me to form a solid opinion on why I became an ethical vegan. I say this because I wasn’t always a vegan by choice. I became a vegan because I was sick and living a very hampered life before I made these dietary changes. But I came to realize that there was so much more to my being a vegan than I thought. I encourage you, lastly, to open your mind. Do your own research into the meat industry and consider adopting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.