I’ve been seeing a lot more people talking about adopting a vegan lifestyle lately on social media. I don’t know if it’s because of the movie What The Health or not, but what ever the reason I’m glad to see the food revolution growing. (If you haven’t seen the documentary yet it's on Netflix and on YouTube.) In some of the vegan Facebook groups I participate in, there are a lot of questions from newbie vegans. I’ve written many posts that pertain to new vegans but I thought I would address some of the main issues here. If YOU are not a beginner please share this post with your friends and family that are.
If you're looking for the confidence and clarity about your new vegan lifestyle so you can make it work for you, I invite you to join us for a video course, Beginners Guide To Being Vegan to help you go from confused to thriving with your plant-based lifestyle. To find out more and sign up click here.
What to Eat
So what are you going to eat? And how will you make those collard greens taste good without the meat? Fortunately for you there are so many amazing vegan recipes out there that once you get started you’ll likely find you have even more variety to your diet than you did before. I found I can make many of the dishes I used to eat before and I like them even more. I got very familiar with spices and herbs and now my food is amazing. I’m loving making curries and pasta and food from all around the world. Even my non-vegan family loves my food.
Get yourself a few cookbooks and search on-line for websites that you like. Start here at Food For The Soul. Google “vegan recipes” or “vegan tacos”. You get dozens of suggestions. Then experiment, experiment, experiment in the kitchen! The more you get in there and try new things the more you’ll be able to create food you love. Soon you won’t even miss the meat.
What if you don’t like beans? Or tofu? Or whatever? As your system adjusts, your taste buds will probably change. Give things another try and see if you like them better. Or try a different recipe. And if you STILL don’t like it, or are allergic to them? No problem. Eliminate them. There are plenty of other options to choose from. Just make sure there are lots of fresh fruits and veggies. Skip the canned stuff.
Dealing With Family
Unless you are very lucky, chances are your spouse, parents, and friends will not by making the same move. Be prepared for a period of time where your diet will be the center of attention, particularly at meals. This may be particularly hard at family gatherings. It’s best if you don’t say too much about what you are doing or why. Certainly DONT try to convince everyone else they should be doing it too. Just do you and mind your own business. Sooner or later they’ll get use to it and get tired of bothering you. If this is a trouble spot for you check out this post.
As your body adjusts to your new diet you’ll likely notice some changes. Some may concern you. When you first go vegan you may find you are hungry all the time. Eat when you are hungry and as your body adjusts to the new diet your appetite will normalize. Add grains, nuts, and seeds to help your stomach feel full.
Now that you aren’t feeding your body all the toxins that an animal based diet contains your body will take this opportunity to get rid of the toxins that have accumulated. This may make you feel sick. You may get cold symptoms. Your skin may break out. You digestion may change. All of this is normal. Drink lots of water. Rest as needed. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies and wait it out. After a week or so you should start to feel better.
Going To Restaurants
We love to go out to eat and fortunately it is getting easier and easier to find vegan options in restaurants. Many international cuisines easily adapt to the vegan diet. Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Indian usually have vegan choices. Be sure you let them know your needs. It helps if YOU know what ingredients are potential problems, like fish sauce in Thai food or Ghee in Indian. Egg in fried rice. Do some investigation. Then say “no fish sauce!” Here’s some help on that.
Remember that the internet (or your smart phone) is your friend. Use Yelp, Happy Cow, or google to search for vegan restaurants in your area. Look at the menus online to see what’s offered. And don’t be afraid to ask for something that isn’t on the menu. Many chefs will create a vegan dish for you if you ask.
What You Need In Your Kitchen
It may be tempting to go out and get all sorts of new ingredients, tools etc. for your new lifestyle. I’d advise taking it slow. Pick out 3-4 recipes you want to start making and focus on getting the ingredients and tools you’ll need for those. Each week or two, add new recipes and new ingredients. This way you avoid spending a bunch of money and end up feeling overwhelmed.
That said, besides the basics of good sharp knifes and a garlic press, two tools that will be very handy are a high-speed blender and a food processor. If you don’t already have these, start looking for the best option based on your budget.
I would also recommend that you purge your kitchen of all things animal to the extent that you can. If you have to share your kitchen with meat eaters, carve out a cabinet, refrigerator shelf or pantry space for your vegan things so you don’t have to reach past the Cheeze Whiz to get to your nutritional yeast.
Some folks love’m some folks hate’m. Luckily you get to choose. Tofu, tempeh, fake sausages etc. can be a real lifesaver when you are just getting started. It can really help you feel less like you are giving up on everything. But truth be told you don’t need them to be healthy or to make tasty meals. I rarely use them. But I did when I was a newbie.
It really helps if you don’t expect them to taste like what they are replacing. Most times they won’t. But many do taste good anyway. Try different brands to find the one you like best. BUT read the labels!! Not all of them are vegan.
Even if you aren’t worried about where you’ll get your protein, everyone else will be. It will be the question you’ll get asked most often. "Where do you get your protein?" The meat and dairy industry have lobbied hard and spent a gazillion dollars on making sure we think protein=meat.
The answer is that there is plenty of protein in fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, etc. As long as you are eating enough calories and eating whole foods, you’ll be fine. You’ll get plenty of other nutrients too. In fact, you’ll probably be getting better nutrition than you were before. So relax. Here’s what Dr. Opare has to say about protein.
There are healthy vegan kids all around the world. Kids don’t need meat or milk to grow strong. Vegan kids are healthier, smarter, taller, and have lower risks of developing disease now and later. I know many kid who have been vegan since the womb and they are just fine. Unfortunately I didn’t discover veganism until my kids were grown but here’s what someone who’s child has always been vegan says.
Choose a pediatrician who is supportive of your lifestyle so you won’t have to argue with them or get undermined by their misinformed attempts to scare you into changing your mind.
You Can Thrive As A Vegan!
There are many resources out there to answer your questions and provide the support you need. There are black vegan groups in many places around the US. There are groups on the internet. You are not alone!
You can start right here at Food For The Soul with this video course: A Beginners Guide To Being Vegan
Are you looking for the confidence and clarity about your new vegan lifestyle so you can make it work for you? Get started on the right track with this video training. Being vegan can be enjoyable and completely doable if you know the inside secrets to making it work! This course will teach you how to go from confused and struggling to confident and thriving on a plant-based diet. Just $9.99
Here's what you'll learn:
- How to discover what will work best for YOU instead of following some cookie cutter plan.
- 100 delicious vegan dishes so you'll never wonder what to eat.
- What restaurants to go to and how to eat vegan anywhere.
- How to deal with your family and friends and your real-world life so you can stick to your commitment to eat healthy.
Videos available on demand on our training platform. Watch when it is convenient for you.
Bonus #1–Free Ebook: 10 recipes Every Vegan Should Know How To Make
Bonus #2–Learn about Vegan Nutrition: Nana Kwaku Opare MD, physician and dietitian who has been advocating for plant-based diets for optimal health for decades will join us to share his wisdom.
Bonus #3–Kitchen Tips Video Series to help you become a healthy gourmet.
Be sure to share this with your newbie vegan friends and family.