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Christin Urso / Spoon
Wellness

5 Easy Way to Incorporate Vegan Eating in Your Life

I began to pursue a healthier lifestyle in February, 2019. Despite growing up in a competitive sport, I often felt like I didn’t have control over the way I felt about myself and my relationship with food, which is something I’m sure so many people can relate to. Over the past year I’ve made a step towards incorporating a more plant-based diet into my lifestyle and I really fell in love with it. There are a lot of excuses one can use to say no to this choice because it’s perceived as impossible, but I’m living proof that it’s not, and that it’s ok to make mistakes along the way!

Start Small

The reason I tried going vegetarian back in early 2019 was because meat was beginning to make me feel sick. As an out-of-province university student I don’t get the pleasure of having a family that cooks for me or can help me buy groceries at my best convenience. Rather, eating out and grabbing fast food is much quicker for myself. I found that eating unhealthy food like that was really affecting my health and energy. This motivated me to learn a lot on my own about the benefits and try things I never thought I would eat. I started small by trying a veggie burger. After trying one, I fell in love. I challenged myself to try to not eat regular beef patties for a month, but then it turned into a year! I will say it was hard at first, but the way I felt after eating just one is the reason I still have not eaten one today. I encourage you to pick something to try not to eat for a week, a month, or however long you want and see where it takes you! That decision is what put me on a bigger path and I’m so happy about it.

Find Things You Like

I think there’s a big misconception that taking things out of your diet means something has to be given up, which is false! You’re not giving up anything, but rather you’re putting your mind, health and body at priority which is super important! Finding things you like can actually be easy. Some really popular things to try that you will probably enjoy are foods such as avocado toast, smoothies or healthy Buddha bowls. These are good for if you’re a picky eater or just love consistency in your taste and diet. It’s definitely a trial and error process. Something I did was take my favorite recipes and found a way to take away the meat or animal by-products if possible. I found myself adapting really well and it pushed me to find more plant-based recipes. Two of my favorite things are cauliflower pizza and cauliflower wings, definitely something I would not have tried without my healthier diet in mind! You’ll never know how good something will taste or make you feel if you don’t give it a chance.

Eating Out Can Be Great

Often restaurants have amazing salads in order to compare to the other amazing stuff on their menu. Things like vegetarian sushi, veggie stir frys, veggie burgers or Beyond Meat dishes can typically be found on the menu or customized. Some specific healthy takeout places are Freshii, Basil Box, & Chopped Leaf that I have learned to really love. If you’re on the go, these places are perfect for a lunch break at work or dinner when you’re super busy. They are definitely more pricey so be conscious of how much you’re willing to spend there. If you’re craving something greasy or from fast food chains, A&W and Burger King offer Beyond Meat burgers. Starbucks just launched Beyond Meat breakfast sandwiches as well if you want to switch up your order. If you’re undecided or not sure if what you are about to try will be worth the money, don’t be afraid to ask the worker serving you. They’ll know lots more about the item that could help make your decision worthy. Another suggestion would be to look at a menu ahead of time if you’re going out somewhere with friends, family or a significant other. If you know the place suggested doesn’t have a good selection for you, be prepared to substitute. My last suggestion is that if all else fails, check your city for local vegan or vegetarian restaurants, cafes or sweet stores! Toronto especially has tons of varieties that are highly popular and well recommended. Do a Google search or check out BlogTO.

Recommendations

Sometimes it’s easier to check out health, recipe or dietitian accounts on Instagram. My favorite food accounts are @veggininthecity, @bestofvegan & @nutfreevegan because I’m allergic to nuts, which is hard when a lot of dairy or protein substitutes are often nut-based. My favorite YouTube account for vegan eating ideas is Ashley Wicka. She’s a vegan teen who does a lot of videos about what she eats in a day and her most popular videos is her 75 alternative series. She’s done 75 fast food restaurants with vegan options, 75 vegan Halloween candies, 75 daily food alternatives, and even 75 things people assume are vegan but actually aren’t. I want to remind everyone that while doing research and checking out more health accounts, watch out for things that could trigger you if you have had past issues with food relationships or body image. There will be tons of false information about food items that is completely irrelevant, and ads for things like metabolism boosters, diet or fat loss pills or things like how to lose a large amount of weight really fast. Trust me when I say none of these actually work consistently for a long time or are not worth the money. Healthier eating is what will make the best impact on your health. I also recommend being conscious about your daily coffee and pastry order. Starbucks is one of the only large chains that offers dairy alternatives and healthier drinks. Check out my other article on this if you’re interested in learning more!

The Lasting Reward

In the end it’s definitely about balance. I still eat ice cream almost every week whether it’s dairy-free or Ben & Jerry’s. I don’t restrict myself when I want it! I also have things like coffee every day, especially if it’s a crazy busy or stressful week of school. The more you are able to incorporate healthier alternatives into your daily life, I find it gets easier to keep stepping towards more balanced choices. Even if you eat meat or have animal by-products every day, the important thing to know is that even eating one meal a day without it can really help with the environment and improve your health. Eating more plant-based can also help aid in losing weight as these foods are high volume but low in calories so they keep you full and nourished all day in comparison to processed sugars or deep fried foods. Whatever your purpose is for wanting to try more plant-based foods, it surely will make you feel rewarded in some way!

So whether you’ve always wanted to try being vegan, have dietary issues, are on a fitness journey, want to live a healthier lifestyle or need more balance, I hope this article helped narrow down the easier side that comes with making plant-based choices! It really is about trial and error in what works for you, because it might not work the same for the fitness account you are following or a person in your life who’s also vegan. When starting out it’s really common to make mistakes or forget what your goal is so don’t be too hard on yourself! I wish those with plant-based inquiries the best of luck in finding a routine in a healthier food consumption, whether it’s big or small, every choice is valuable!

Feimoon is in her fourth and final year as an undergraduate student at York University, majoring in Communication Studies. She is passionate about traveling, fashion, beauty, writing and spreading positivity. She is now an Alumni of Delta Psi Delta, and past President. Now she focuses on being a Co-Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus York University chapter!
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