Why I transitioned to a vegan diet and how I did it
Let me start off by saying that I am not an expert, nutrionist or doctor. I do not have a degree in anything human anatomy related – in fact, I pursued nursing for a hot two months my sophomore year of college, but quit after I failed my first two anatomy exams. Spoiler alert: I turned to journalism.
My main reason for hopping off the animal by-products train was to to lose weight, more specifically that stubborn pudge slightly hanging over my waistline. However, I’ve found that over the past five months, I no longer have those brain fogs or stress headaches that used to prevent me from sleeping at night. And so, I feel compelled to share the good news with everyone who will listen.
I love steak. I love cheese. Giving both up were farfetched for me – or so I thought. I hired a personal trainer at the top of year after a chance encounter with him in the local Ralphs. He was buying water and healthy stuff – I was buying cookies and chips. We hit it off, talking about all things health and wellness, and so we set up a consultation.
Blaze and I had been training for a few weeks when he suggested a diet change. “You’d slim down a lot more if you cut out dairy,” he suggested. I wasn’t a stranger to healthy eating, I’d just fallen off the wagon as most of us do around the holidays. In fact, I don’t buy meat for my home, and would only partake if I were at a restaurant or a friend’s house. So cutting dairy out of my diet, I thought, wouldn’t be a problem.
Cutting dairy, turned into cutting out dairy and meat, and then soon enough, all things animal related were completely out (minus my supplements in gelatin capsules, but there’s seriously no way around this for me). “Am I on a vegan diet?” I thought to myself one afternoon while making lunch for a friend. And I was – a whole entire month in, and didn’t even realize it.
Not making a big deal out of it really set the tone for how I approached my diet. I didn’t make an announcement to any and everyone coming over for dinner, it wasn’t announced in my social media profiles, and I didn’t have it tattooed on my forehead. It was a personal choice for me, and not an issue of morality. And I’ve had some pretty awesome health results as a result.
I’ve outlined some key steps that helped me transition seamlessly.
Drink lots of water
I started with a trainer, but you totally don’t need to. Working out for me meant that I had to up my water intake. And once I did that, I started noticing that I was no longer craving super unhealthy stuff. I researched it, and came across this really good article that proved that drinking water can reset your tastebuds. I told you – I’m not crazy.
Eat whole foods for breakfast
When asked about 4 ways to reset your tastebuds, Candice Kumai, author of Clean Green Eats: 100+ Clean-Eating Recipes to Improve Your Whole Life, made this her very first step: “Think whole!” Breakfast was an effortless way for me to lead into this.
Instead of cereal, pancakes, or air (I had a serious problem with skipping breakfast), I would grab a few bananas while on my way out the door in the morning. Three of them was all I needed to feel satisfied, not full. I mix it up now with whatever fruit is in season. Rinse them off, place them in your bag and go – no prep-work necessary.
Cut meat out of your diet sloooooooowly
I did this cold turkey since I rarely ate it, but feel free to start cutting out the meat that you eat least often so you don’t completely shock your body. For example, if you only eat beef every once and a while, start with phasing this out first. Once you get the hang of it, slowly phase out the others.
Cut dairy out of your diet
Again, cold turkey for me. I’m no stranger to dairy alternatives like almond milk and vegan butter, but I loved cheese too much to phase this out. The way I’m built, I could finish off a whole 1/4 lb bag of Boar’s Head White American cheese in one sitting. However, not buying it for my home made it easier for me to cut it from my diet. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.
One of the most frequent questions I get when someone inquires about my diet is “well, how do you get your protein?” I HATE that question, but the truth is, I found it kind of hard to eat a completely balanced meal on this diet. And that’s where supplements came in. I take a variety of them – b12, iron, multivitamin, calcium, to name a few – and started taking these specifically after I assessed what my body needed.
After being on a vegan diet for a few months, I started noticing that I was pretty fatigued in the morning. I did a quick google search and found that b12 is an energy vitamin that can only be found in eggs, seafood and dairy, and since I was no longer eating any of them, I figured that I should add b12 to my diet. I gave it about a week of taking it daily, and my fatigue went away. I then researched other frequent vitamins that vegans/vegetarians take, and added them to the list as well. I also recommend getting your blood work done to make sure you take the supplements that your body needs. No two bodies are the same, so adopt what works best for you.
And yes. I still can eat lots of desserts, just vegan ones.
Like I mentioned previously, I’m not a nutritionist, so if you’re considering changing your diet you should consult with a doctor or a professional first to make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients needed for your body!
Hope this helps!