I often meet people who have thought about going vegan, but feel it might be too much of a challenge. I always try to assure them that it is much easier than it seems. You just have to take the first step.
Shifting to a vegan diet is all about relearning how we think about food. Most of us still swear by that archaic food pyramid we learned about as children. And we are also conditioned to think a meal consist of a meat and two (or three) sides. But now, nutrition experts want us to make fruits and vegetables the stars of our dining tables.
If you know you are not ready to change your diet overnight, here are some ways you can ease into it.
Elminate and Replace
This is one of the easiest ways to ease into going vegan. Each month (or week if you feel up to the challenge) eliminate a non vegan item from your diet and replace it with a vegan version of that item. For example, eliminate eggs, replace with Just Egg (my fav) or another vegan egg product. Next month, eliminate and replace an additional item.
By now, you’ve probably heard of Meatless Monday. There are entire school systems that have implemented Meatless Mondays in their meal plans. Even though this is just one day, it takes some planning to prep for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But there is plenty of help out there in the form of recipes and meal ideas. Start with Meatlessmonday.com.
Vegan Before 6 pm
Eat vegan all day and then eat whatever you want after 6 pm. There is an entire book dedicated to this. VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6 To Lose Weight and Restore Your Health was written by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman. It details his journey to better health by switching to a mostly plant based diet. Bittman made the shift after his doctor suggested he eat vegan to fight his high cholesterol, high blood sugar, bad knees and sleep apnea. After 3-4 months, all of those issues went away and he lost 35 lbs. Bittman says he continued eating this way after he got healthy because he didn’t feel like he was sacrificing.
22 Day Challenge
Eat vegan all day every day for 22 days. This is the method made famous by Beyonce and Jay Z. Creator Marco Borges based this program on the belief that you can make or break a habit in 21 days. His website will guide you through the entire process. You can sign up and purchase the 22 day starter kit, which provides recipes, protein bars, protein powder, a shopping list and, if you choose, step by step details on the plan Beyonce followed to prep for that Coachella performance. You can pay for this if you need the support, but If you want to save some money you can also just put together your own plan and stick to it for 22 days.
Which ever method you try, remember to have fun with it… partner with a friend or a group, try new recipes and restaurants, or post your journey on social media. And if you slip up, don’t beat yourself up. Remember, these are baby steps toward a life long commitment. You can do this.