Note: this is the final post in my series on “Why I Went Vegan”. I recommend you start from the beginning to get a better idea of what this is all about.
In this final post in the series, I will go over 3 main ideas that can help you transition to a whole foods plant based lifestyle.
Finding a few good meals:
This part is critical. Changing everything up completely might be too drastic (although recommended). What you need are a few good dishes you can resort to time and time again that are whole foods and plant based.
For me, breakfast is always steel-cut hot oatmeal along with a large fruit and vegetable smoothie (remember, no need to put in nut butters).
I sip on my smoothie as I drive off to work, and I keep sipping it throughout the day that I usually don’t even need a lunch. Dinner is also a staple for me: a bean based soup along with flatbread (roti). At times, I might have a baked potato or a sweet yam with a few spices on them. No oil, no margarine, no sour cream.
Finding simplicity in your diet is big because it removes the guesswork. When you feel more creative, you can loop up some more recipes. However, a few staple should be good enough to get started.
You may think that this reduces your ability as you travel. This is not true. I spend a lot of time on the road due to my work. I have since resorted to reading both the nutritional information of foods at fast food joints as well as the ingredient lists. This has given me a good idea of what I can/cannot eat if I really need to eat outside food. I recommend spending some time researching this if you find yourself needing to eat out more often.
McDonald’s for example, has Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, which although does not have the best ingredients (maltodextrin or corn syrup comes to mind), is adequate enough when I’m on the road and absolutely must eat.
Tim Horton’s also has Oatmeal I can eat (with bagels coming second).
At work events, people may go to Swiss Chalet (and other sit down type restaurants). Restaurants are typically okay to serve up a baked potato (without the sour cream and butter and oils) and a side of some vegetables. That seems to keep me going.
Remember, switching to this diet is not meant to restrict your social life. You will find that it may spark a discussion, but you certainly won’t be the person who has nothing in front of yourself at social events.
This is easier and easier these days. Making the change can be hard. You must surround yourself with people and inspiration that direct you on this path. Reinforcement is everything. Otherwise, you may feel tempted. Whether it be online forums, watching videos on youtube, looking at posts on Instagram or Pinterest, find your tribe of people who are following this lifestyle and stick with them. If people in your immediate family and friend circle do not get this, be patient, but find your own tribe.
Otherwise you will end up being resentful, and ultimately tired from doing this on your own. Meetup.com is a great place to find other vegan people in your community. This will make it easier for you to stick with a lifestyle change, and be persistent, patient, and loving to those who do not get it.
Be Easy On Yourself
Like with any lifestyle change, there will be times you relapse. But remember to keep showing up because the effect does add up. Beating yourself up will not do anything.
You should also not expect results overnight. You will not see them. However, with time, they will accumulate.
The metaphor of the water hyacinth comes to mind (pictured above):
On a pond’s surface, on the first day you will barely be able to make out this plant. For the first few weeks you will have a hard time spotting it. On day 15, it may end up covering one square foot of the entire pond surface. On day 20, you may notice it take up the place of a small dense little mattress. On day 29, half the pond will be covered, and on day 30, the entire pond will be covered by this plant.
That’s the way of change. On day 1, whether you eat the wrong things or the right things won’t make a difference. One day in and of itself does not make a difference. However, the accumulation of choices ends up making a huge difference. So, stick with it and be easy on yourself if you mess up. Change will happen because you will see it impact your energy, your weight, your mood, your pocketbook (as it is more economical to eat this way), and your life as a whole.
Now more than ever we need to switch to a whole foods plant based diet. We need to do it for the planet (eating meat, dairy, poultry is the most environmentally destructive thing you can do), for our conscience (the cruelty that these animals suffer on our behalf needs to stop), and for our health (the science is unanimous: a whole foods plant based diet is the best for living a long, healthy, full, and rich life).
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the only argument that people have against this is this: ìt tastes too good too switch.
We need to be evangelists in showing what it means to live this lifestyle. We need to show how vibrant, energetic, fun, and delicious this lifestyle is.
That has been the purpose behind me writing about this. I hope it has helped you see things differently.