Vege Story – Part 3: Getting Started

How do you make the transition from your current diet to a whole-foods, plant-based diet? How do you even get started? There are several ways to go about it. For one, you could ease into it. Start with Meatless Mondays, just like the San Diego City Schools do for their school children. Try making a large dish (soup, spaghetti, steamed veggies, or stir fry) on the weekend, then use that dish for meals throughout the week. Search online for vegan restaurants or restaurants with a few vegan items, then try them out. Then add a few other special days, one at a time – Taco Tuesdays, WonderBurger Wednesdays, Stir-fry Saturdays, Soupy Sundays, etc. Be planful when you travel, even when you are out for a short shopping trip. Bring water, dried fruits, nuts, and protein bars to snack on. If it is a longer trip, make a delicious wrap (see recipes), and toss it in a cooler.

Another way to go about the transition is to do it “cold turkey.” That’s what Donna and I did. One day we ate meat and dairy, the next day we didn’t. Mind you, we weren’t fanatical about it. If a little meat or dairy managed to creep into a meal, we didn’t sweat it. The goal isn’t to earn a gold star for 100% compliance. The goal is to eat a primarily meat and dairy free diet to give us the best chance to live a long life and feel great doing it.

There was definitely a learning curve, but it has been a fun learning process, and the reward of feeling better and having better overall health makes it well worth the effort. We spent quite a bit of time online researching how to get balanced nutrition on a vegan diet. I attended classes on how to cook vegan, what foods help fight cancer, and how to prepare raw food meals. I also visited a nutritionist at Kaiser Permanente, and got a good rundown on what foods to include to get enough protein, calcium, vitamin B, iron, etc. The free booklet that Kaiser publishes, Vegetarian Meal Planning, is a great resource. It turns out to be easier that you would think. A whole foods, plant-based diet with a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables along with legumes, seeds, and grains, will give you all the nutrition you need.

We got to try out a bunch of foods that we had pretty much ignored previously – quinoa, seeds, nuts, beans, and fresh greens. We’ve experimented with sprouting seeds, juicing fresh produce, making protein shakes and smoothies, and using a dehydrator.

It’s probably not that important how you go about it, but it is important that you get started. Take those first steps. Here are some helpful links to help you with the journey:

http://www.vegansociety.com/become-a-vegan/
http://www.oprah.com/packages/vegan-starter-kit.html
http://features.peta.org/how-to-go-vegan/
http://www.wikihow.com/Become-a-Vegan
How To Go Vegan: 12 Beginner Tips To Get You Started
http://kissmyvegan.blogspot.com/p/my-favorites.html (includes some great resources)

 

 

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