Now that I have survived my first week of veganism, it’s my duty to offer encouragement and advice to those beginning their journey as well.
The biggest encouragement I can give is that you are human. Mistakes will be made, rules will be momentarily forgotten, and you may even fall off the wagon all together. But this is to be expected of every human being who has ever tried to accomplish something. The best thing to do is to acknowledge it, accept it, learn from it, and move on.
Do you keep giving in to your favorite dairy treats or meaty morsels? Make a point to learn how to make vegan versions. Ree Drummond has an amazing black bean burger recipe that will curb any craving. Just switch out the egg for 1 tbs of flax and 3 tbs of warm water. then add hummus instead of cheese.
Do you keep feeling tired or nauseous? Good news! You’re not eating enough. Get your five a day, have a grain and bean with every meal, get nutritional yeast to stock your body up on B-12, get some sun, look through every nook and cranny to find where you are lacking in your diet. However, if you are chronically fatigued, vomiting, or have a perpetual fever, seek out medical attention immediately. Going vegan is about making yourself healthier and happier, not hurting yourself to lose a few pounds. Compassion is key, but you need to be smart.
10 Tips On How To Survive Your First Week
- Start with an open mind. There’s no surer way to guarantee failure than to go into it with a bad attitude. If you think that going vegan is going to be a punishment or that you won’t last, then it will be, and you won’t.
- Find substitutes for your favorite foods. Are you used to having a sausage and egg biscuit at McDonalds every morning? Google vegan recipes for all your favorite fixes. Veganism should be less “giving up” food and more “upgrading” food.
- If cooking at home, give yourself extra time to cook. For most people, designing meals 100% around vegetables is going to be a completely foreign concept, and one that requires planning and extra time in the kitchen.
- Take a look at your pantry. Is it full of meat-based condiments, dried pasta, rice, potatoes, and the like? Make sure your pantry stays stocked with plenty of beans and whole grains, hearty leafy grains like kale, spinach, and collards, and other animal-friendly sauces.
- Avoid convenience foods. If all you subsist on as a vegan is poor frozen pizza, frozen vegan burritos, veggie burger patties and ready-made meals, you will not be a happy eater. Regular frozen foods are bad enough. Vegan ones are simply abysmal not to mention loaded with preservatives and chemicals.
- Take a walk down the produce section. It is the perfect excuse to load up on all kinds of vegetables that you never regularly ate before. As a meat eater, I often found myself resorting to the easy options, the fish or the chicken, avoiding the often more interesting vegetable-based options. As a vegan, my diet has become much more diverse and more enjoyable.
- Do not be embarrassed. There has been the occasional moment when I felt I needed to explain myself, to rationalize to others why I’m doing what I’m doing. “Oh, it’s just a writing project,” and I never felt good doing it. On the other hand, when I come right out and say, “it’s something I’ve always wanted to try, because I tend to agree with a lot of vegan philosophy,” I end up getting a lot more respect, an interesting discussion out of it, and the potential to actually impact another person.
- If you’re going on a road trip, pack food with you. In fact, have snacks and emergency rations available to you at all times. It’s not that you’ll get hungrier as a vegan, it’s just that on the off-chance that you do end up missing lunch or forgetting it at home, your options as a vegan on the road or in unfamiliar territory are not good. Some fresh fruit, a good salad, or even trail mix can be a life saver in those situations.
- So you messed up. Don’t sweat it. Again, the key to being a successful vegan is to live the lifestyle as much a reasonably possible. There may be some who disagree with me on this, but if you’ve just realized that you accidentally ate some butter or that the curry you just tasted had fish sauce in it, don’t kill yourself. Don’t starve yourself, just do the best you can. The moment any diet stops being fun is the moment you begin to think it might not be worth it.
- Don’t judge others. So what if you disagree with someone else’s lifestyle choice. You’re not perfect either. The best way to help people and win them over is to teach by action, no lecturing. Bring some vegan food over or treat them to a vegan meal. If you want to make the change and keep your friends while you’re at it, you have to realize that not everybody is at the same place in their life, and not everybody has the same value system as yours. No one makes friends by condemnation. The easiest way to help people understand is to show them. My parents were much more open to the idea of a plant-based diet after I cooked them ratatouille with hummus on whole wheat bread.
Black Bean Burgers (Vegan Version) courtesy of Ree Drummond
- 2 cans (14.5 Each) Black Beans
- 1 cup Seasoned Breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Grated White Onion
- 1 tbs of Flax (mix with 3 tbs warm water to replace egg)
- 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
- Salt And Pepper
- Hot Sauce
- Olive Oil, For Frying
- Earth Balance butter
- 4 Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
- Red Pepper Hummus
- Lettuce Or Other Greens
- Sliced Tomato
Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil with an equal amount of butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Form the bean mixture into patties slightly larger than the buns you’re using (the patties will not shrink when they cook.) Place the patties in the skillet and cook them about 5 minutes on the first side. Flip them to the other side, place 2 slices of cheese onto each patty, and continue cooking them for another 5 minutes, or until the burgers are heated through. (Place a lid on the skillet to help the cheese melt if needed.)
Grill the buns on a griddle with a little butter until golden. Spread the buns with mayonnaise and hot sauce, then place the patties on the buns. Top with lettuce and tomato, then pop on the lids!
Weight: 211.6 lb (-1.8 change)
Fasting Blood Glucose Level: 112
Blood Pressure: 116/72
Resting Heart Rate: 55
Total Calorie Intake: 1541 238/39/80*
*”Total Calories per Day” “Carbs/Fat/Protein” The ultimate goal is 1800 calories per day with a macronutrient split of 225/60/90.