I soon put together a rambling guide of everything I had learned and as soon as someone asked, I would send it. Well, here we are four years later and people are still approaching me asking for my advice, so I figured it was high-time I organize my thoughts and publish them!
My Best Tips and Tricks for Going Vegan
- Research - Do some research, don’t just go into the decision blind because you saw a picture of a vegan who looks amazing. Figure out if this is actually a lifestyle choice you feel excited and passionate about. Skinny Bitch is my favorite vegan book and I always recommend reading it when one is first starting. I also recommend The Kind Diet.
- Ease Yourself In - If you’ve read my story, you know that I first stopped drinking soda and eating red meat in 2009. The following year I became Pescatarian and gave up white flour and sugar. Initially, going vegan will feel like you are giving up a lot (though you’re really just re-training your body and mind and the way you think about food) so I recommend easing yourself in. You can do this month by month, week by week, or whatever works for you.
- Watch Out for Processed Foods - During this crucial time in re-training your taste buds, try to eat mostly whole, plant-based foods. If you dive into this lifestyle and try to replace nachos and pizza with the vegan versions, you will not be successful. You have to allow yourself to taste real food, after all, that’s the point of all of this. The vegan junk food can sneak in after you are happily eating a clean, plant-based diet.
- Stick to Foods You Love - There are some vegan foods that everyone loves (even if they don’t normally realize they’re vegan!) Fresh squeezed juices and smoothies are a great way to start your day or to enjoy for a snack. Hummus, guacamole, and salsa are your new best friends. And never, ever underestimate the power of the classic PB and J. You love these foods any way, so why not rely on them to help you through this transition?
- This Lifestyle is Not Hard, But it Takes More Work - This phrase has been my mantra from the beginning. The key to success is planning! The reason that I was able to be so successful when first going veg, was because every trip to the grocery store became an adventure. Each week when I would select new fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains I didn’t typically eat, and I was excited. All I had to do was prep my veggies every morning to pack for lunch and this wasn’t hard at all, it just took a bit more effort.
- Figure Out How to Eat Out - Going out to eat is a huge part of our culture but can be scary at first. Chipotle, Chop't, Pret, Potbelly, Blockheads, Blossom, Terri, Fresh n' Co, Hale and Hearty, Liquiteria, Juice Generation, even Pax are all super vegan-friendly (or vegan) fast food restaurants in NYC and can really help you in a pinch. Check out my guide to eating at national fast food chains and my tips for dining at a non-vegan establishments!
- Keep Yourself Inspired! - Find books, blogs, pinterest boards, instagram accounts, etc. to inspire you. When I first became vegan, I was really intimidated by a lot of recipes so I basically just made stir-fry or rice and beans every night. It took several months of following some awesome blogs to finally feel like I could cook something amazing. Little did I know I was laying the groundwork for who I’ve become today!