Mac’s top 5 tips for new Vegans
As a shiny new vegan myself, I quickly learned that there’s a few things that make the plant-based life a little easier. Here’s my top pointers.
1) Plan Meals Ahead
This was a hard pill to swallow for me. I’m not a naturally planner. I’m more of a “fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-and-hope-for-the-best-er.” Or as Mags calls it, a “pantser.” But that really doesn’t work out well for new vegans. But never fear! You can make life a little easier with a very small amount of pre-planning. My system? I pick 4 meals I want to make for the week and buy all the ingredients for those, along with some pantry staples and snack foods. I usually have enough leftovers to cover lunches. On the other 3 nights I use whatever ingredients I have extra and cook something based on what I have handy. Try my system or come up with your own, but remember, a little planning goes a long way!
2) Get a little adventurous. But just a little.
Willingness to try new and unfamiliar foods is definitely your friend when going vegan. Do this, and you will never get bored eating vegetables. But a word of caution: Don’t experiment every night! Nothing is saps your motivation for sticking to this lifestyle more than getting a few failed experiments in a row. It makes you feel like you’re forcing yourself to eat food you don’t like. Come up with a few old standbys—recipes that are home runs every time—and throw them into the mix in between the days you’re trying something new.
3) Don’t be too restrictive.
This one is super important to me. I have a history of struggling with an eating disorder and that experience has colored my perception of diets forever. I CANNOT diet. Any time I feel like I’m restricting my intake in any way, I feel triggered and go a little crazy. And it’s not just me. Even people who don’t suffer from eating disorders often have similar mental reactions to food restriction. This is one of the reasons it took me so long to go Vegan. Make sure you’re honoring your body and your needs. If you are DYING for something sweet, go for it! If you NEED a crunchy snack, eat what you’re craving. If you find yourself craving an old non-vegan favorite, find a way to satisfy the urge while still honoring your new lifestyle. I used to love chicken wings and I find that sometimes buffalo cauliflower or tofu wings is a great craving killer for me. Just make sure whatever it is makes you feel satisfied.
4) Remember why you started
There are so many reasons to go vegan. We all have our own plant based journey—that one moment that pushed us over the edge until we finally said, “Okay, that’s enough. I can’t eat animal products anymore.” Remember that moment and that reason if your resolve gets shaky. Whether it was the environment, the animals, or concerns about your personal health, keep your reasons close to your heart. If it was strong enough once, it will be strong enough every time you consider giving up. All you have to do is remember it.
5) Count every little victory
When I became vegan, the first thing I noticed was my energy increasing. That was a big win. Next my mood started to improve. I’m calmer, more patient than I had been. I started noticing I was able to do harder workouts with less soreness. I stopped getting acid reflux. I haven’t had an asthma attack in months. My headaches almost disappeared. Every time I noticed another improvement, I felt more positive about my decision to take this journey. Sometimes it’s hard. The people in your life don’t always understand. It can be hard to eat out at restaurants. But whenever it gets hard, think back to all these little victories and you’ll know you did the right thing.
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