New Vegan?

If you are new to veganism or eating plant based, or just thinking about the idea, here are some thoughts.  Before I went vegan diet, I thought certain things and learned over time some different perspectives.  I really did not understand it much, I did know vegetarian a little.  But I figured a vegan lived on salads and in general lived a very odd lifestyle.  I now know better. 🙂

So…thoughts in random order:

A lot of what we have been taught is a myth and driven by profit motives.  Milk does not do a body good.  Your bones are stronger if you do not drink milk.  You do not need all this protein…Americans are NOT protein deficient… we are in fact plant fiber deficient (per FDA).   Protein is in plants, not just meats.  Cows do not give milk because they are some magical milk creature…. they are lactating mothers so need to be kept pregnant.  Terms like “grass fed”, “Free Range”, “Cruelty Free”…etc are more to make you feel less guilty.  There is much more….

Watch What The Health and Forks Over Knives (available streaming on Netflix).  Once you have been eating vegan for a month or so and see how easy and tasty it is, watch Food Inc and Cowspiracy (also available streaming on Netflix).

Vegan cooking is less expensive. Specially the closer you get to being the creator of the food.  Flour, rice, beans, potatoes, onions… all cheap and provide the bulk of the recipes.  Even most fresh veggies are cheaper than meats.   This does not even consider the cost in healthcare from eating meat and dairy.  Most of my meals cost under $10 total and can feed a family of 5 and still have leftovers.

Try cooking the dinner dishes from “The Rotation” on my page.  You should have too many left overs and have enough food for reheating for lunches.

Leftovers!  You actually save a lot of time by cooking enough for leftovers and reheating them (perhaps another dinner) for lunches.  No need to buy a lunch. No need to drive out to a fast food place.  Instead you have already made healthy food, ready to heat and eat! When cooking, even if it takes 45 minutes to make your dinner, you are also investing time in the next meal or lunch.   You may even consider making larger batches and freezing, or planning on next week’s meal.  Invest in a set of good plastic containers.

Replace the cow’s milk with unflavored almond milk.  Replace the butter with original Earth Balance.  Replace the mayo with Just Mayo or Veganaise.   These are simple and easy and you have replaced most of the dairy.

This is a journey, not a destination.  Take the path.  But mainly… as they say on the Appalachian Trail…”you hike your own hike.”   Figure out what works for you.

Do not let “PERFECT” get in the way of “GOOD.”   If your goal is perfect purity of diet, than great!  But for most of us… do not consider it a failure if you eat something not vegan.  If your “good” is just ‘meatless mondays’ then awesome.  Rock the meatless mondays!  Do what you can and what works for you.

Vegans do not just eat healthy.  They do not just eat salads and raw veggies.  Almost anything you are used to eating, can be made vegan and taste awesome.  Many foods are vegan without even trying.  Yes, you can eat Oreos and potato chips as an example.  You do not need dairy, eggs, and meat.  And many vegans are also very much into healthy eating, with all different levels of this.  Some will not eat any oil, any sugar, anything processed, anything GMO, anything in plastic, etc etc etc.  Do not let that get in the way of transitioning to a plant based diet.  My philosophy is that changing your diet takes some time, some retraining, and trying to go all perfect with zero oil, sugars, etc is not for everyone, at least not all at once.  Transition to plant based, then reduce the sugar, the salt, and the oils.

This is a learning curve and it is not always easy to learn new methods.  But once you do… it is easier to cook vegan than to cook meat based dishes.  And shopping is easier.  It may not seem that way at first… but being vegan is easy.  Consider this… if you were raised in an alternate universe where everyone only ate vegan and just a small group of crazy people ate meat… and you decide to go carnivore… it would be even harder.  How do you cook with these strange new ingredients like hamburger or ribs or a steak?  You would have to buy new cooking tools and learn new techniques.  Going plant based is not that hard.

Your tastes will change.  Trust me.  You will grow to love certain foods far more.  Eventually you can incorporate more veggies, less fats.  I used to hate cilantro.  Now I love it.  I now love mushrooms and tofu!

Give your digestion a month or so to grow a new biome and adapt.  It and you will be happy you did. In the meantime you may have more gas and looser stools.  This will pass!  😉

Reward yourself.  Give yourself positive points for eating vegan.  For me, I can race cars (burning fossil fuels) knowing my being vegan has far greater impact on the environment than anything I drive.  I can eat tortilla chips at the Mexican restaurant, knowing I am doing more for my health by ordering veggie fajitas with no cheese… than anything else.

Yes you can even replace cheeses.  Many ways of making vegan cheeses exist.  Understand that the main ingredient in dairy cheese is casein and it is addictive (and not good for you) so you will crave it.  This will go away.

Summary:  It is easy, not expensive, more healthy, you will feel better, and don’t be hard on yourself if you slip.  Do what you can and what works for you.