A plant-based diet is slowly appealing to people across the world, and you should seriously consider hopping onto the vegan train. From daunting yet informative documentaries, to delicious alternative options, our perspective on veganism is rapidly changing. Not only are there scrumptious snacks and meals that provide similar or even more nutritional value to your regular diet, but the long-term benefits of a vegan lifestyle are beneficial to you and the planet.
Yep, you heard me.
Plant-based diets decrease your risk of major diseases including diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. But, it doesn’t stop there. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, rainforests are vanishing in favor of cattle ranches and soy plantations for livestock, and animal agriculture is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. If every person on earth adopted a vegan diet, greenhouse gases would decrease by more than 50 percent. That’s right — going vegan can reduce your carbon footprint by a considerable amount!
You may be hesitant to cut animal products out of your diet for a number of reasons. A huge lifestyle change is always overwhelming at first, and maybe you've fallen into the trap of believing that vegans only eat salads. Have no fear, though — I'm here to tell you that veganism can be a fun, fulfilling, and yes, delicious choice. So, if you want to transition into veganism, follow these four tips to make it fun.
- Educate yourself
When starting something new, it’s always best to do your homework so that you’re prepared. Yes, this may sound boring, but informing yourself on the benefits of removing animal products from your life may actually motivate you to do it quickly.
For example, research YouTube channels that cater to vegans and the journey into becoming one. When veganism first sparked my interest, I came across YouTube channels Avantgardevegan and RainbowPlantLife, who provide delicious recipe tutorials. Also, dive into the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle for your specific background. It's common for vegan influencers to list weight loss, skin improvement, and better physical performance as benefits. However, we all come from different backgrounds, so try to find vegan influencers who are similar in ethnicity, body shape, and age for a more relatable experience.
YouTube isn’t the only place you can gain information from, however. Whether it be podcasts, books, or Tabitha Brown’s TikTok videos, there are countless brands and platforms dedicated to providing you with insight and recipes. Understanding predicted health changes and available dietary options will help make this transition as smooth as possible.
- Partake in a vegan challenge
Whether you want to try weekly vegan days (like the infamous Meatless Monday), a month-long meat and dairy exemption, or anything in between, engaging in a challenge will help prepare you. By participating in a challenge, you get the best of both worlds by transitioning quickly and getting a peek into a vegan lifestyle without the immediate commitment.
Going completely cold turkey on all animal products will prove tricky, so trying shorter challenges like these are a great way to ease yourself in to the change. Also, by trying something for a definitive period of time, you feel a sense of focus and accomplishment.
- Substitute products
Oftentimes, the biggest conundrums of going vegan are the exclusions of meat and dairy products. But, lucky for you, I am pleased to share these simple meat and dairy alternatives that will make saying goodbye so much easier.
If you’re a big fan of red meat, try looking into Impossible and Beyond Meat products, which are meatless ground beef substitutes that actually taste like meat. I know that alternative meat options seem sketchy, but I recommend them as the texture and taste are similar to the latter. Some may argue that alternative meat is more expensive, but prices usually range from $4.99 to $8.99 in my experience.
Or, if you’re a casual chicken consumer, try tofu, tempeh, or Morningstar Farms chik’n nuggets. Also, switch out dairy with oat- or nut-based products from brands like Almond Breeze or Oatly for yogurt and milk.
- Keep your meals exciting
Contrary to popular belief, dressing-less salads and pasta are not the only meal options for a vegan. Being vegan can actually open the door to an array of recipes and tasty opportunities that you may not try otherwise, all of which are simply exempt of animal products.
According to CNN, many cultures rely on plant-based cuisine, which means your options of palate expansion are endless. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless, international dishes including Indian, Ethiopian, and Chinese recipes. It can be fun learning how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein and the health benefits are endless.
Transitioning into veganism has been a rewarding experience for me. What started out as a skeptical and reluctant approach to health eventually turned into a dedicated and exhilarating lifestyle. Many of us come from households who cannot fathom a meal without meat, so I invite you to challenge the norm and live a life where you won’t stop reaping the rewards.