I am in love! I am screaming it from the highest mountain (aka the top of my building) and letting my message sail on the backs of London’s gusting winds. Friends, we’ve already celebrated our 6 month anniversary, and I can confidently say that we’ve passed the lustful stage. Every limb in my body, from the depths of my heart to the whole of my soul knows that this is love. I’ve never felt happier, freer and more alive than I do today!
You all know who I am talking about. We’re two beans in a vanilla pod; the one constant that has been with me through thick and thin. Vegan.
Our meeting was auspicious. I just so happened to be sick when I ordered Netflix for the first time. It was the basis of our first date: Netflix and chill. We both love documentaries. It was sheer coincidence when Cowspiracy was presented before me in all its honest glory.
When we first met, I already gave up red meat for nearly 6 years and reduced my intake of chicken and dairy during that time. My interest sparked when Cowspiracy introduced us, especially upon learning the correlation between animal husbandry’s detrimental effects on our environment and contribution to chronic hunger. Before I knew it I was introduced to mutual friends – other documentaries on the topic of food and health.
Have you ever been inspired by a relationship to do and be better? Well, I was sick. I had gone from running 7km within 20 minutes to learning how to stand once again. I had endured nearly a year of ingesting medical cocktails with side effects more pungent than the strongest of alcoholic drinks. I wanted a change, and Vegan never left my side. I completely transformed my lifestyle in one go. As American Standard used to advertise, “flush once, never look back.” I’m so glad I did because I now have what I missed for over a year. My health.
Based on my results, y’all have been asking for a guide on how to transition to the vegan lifestyle, or how to eat healthier. This is at times hard to answer because of the situation that prompted my decision. However, I do have advice from when I committed to the Endo diet and eliminated gluten, red meat, dairy, soy, processed foods, refined sugars, any traces of alcohol and caffeine.
1. Have a goal in mind!
Many people switch to a plant-based diet for a multitude of reasons. Figure out why YOU want to be vegan. Is it for health reasons? Are you passionate about the welfare of animals? Are you fervently fighting for the environment? Does seeing people suffer unjustly on a daily basis rile you up? Whatever it is, figure it out and stick to it. Transitioning to a new lifestyle is simpler and easier when you know WHY you are doing so.
2. Pace yourself!
Don’t go from one extreme to the next only to indulge in never ending wheels of cheese by the afternoon followed by drowning in a sea of guilt at bed time. Weaning yourself off of animal products and by-products, like any addiction, will take time. Start by eliminating the foods you don’t eat the most. Commit to not eating them, then slowly incorporate other foods. This way you avoid relapsing.
I’m always researching gluten, dairy and soy-free alternatives. You don’t need to eat tofu morning, noon and night. I’ve barely touched the stuff to be honest. If you love meat, research alternative ways to continue enjoying the same flavour and texture. Don’t forget to also research how to obtain your daily required levels of vitamins and minerals. Did you know per calorie, kale has more iron than beef?
Life as a vegan may seem expensive, especially if you only buy processed vegan alternatives. Don’t go there. Eat whole foods. A majority of the global poor only survive off of plant-based meals because chicken, meat and animal by-products are expensive. If you think fast-food is cheap, then think about the costs to your health. Lentils, beans, peas, rice, pastas and even certain fruits and vegetables are extremely affordable. Go to your local grocery store or farmers’ market. You do not need to shop at a specialty health food store on a daily basis.
5. Colour, texture, flavour!
Why is it when people transition to new “diets” their food looks so bland? Rain or shine, make sure your food is giving you life! Every meal should be colourful. Apart from looking appealing, it’s one of the best way to know you’re eating a balanced diet. By evening, I want you to ingest a rainbow.
Make sure to not forget flavour! Skipping seasoning annoys me more than rude people. A majority of rude people can’t help who they are, but you, you have the option to add a menagerie of spices. Step up your food game and simultaneously strengthen your body’s fighting powers.
There is absolutely no such thing as a bad cook, however, you can be a lazy chef. Get in the kitchen, roll your sleeves up and play with ingredients. Who cares if your initial trials don’t resemble meals churned out of a highly-rated Michelin restaurant, if food splatters across the ceiling and walls (true story, happened to me!), or if it burns to a crisp?! Many of my recipes go wrong before they’re published. If only you saw my first batch of donuts. They looked like scones, and every hour they got tougher to eat.
Practise makes perfect, and soon you will prefer cooking, as opposed to dining out or pre-packaged meals. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your labour, but there are no secrets about ingredients or how it was made. Forget about food poisoning or any MSG conspiracies.
Let’s not forget that the kitchen isn’t only a “woman’s haven”. Why are we allowing society to dictate our interactions with spaces? The kitchen is simply another room in your home that provides the tools to help nourish your body.
I commemorate every milestone and treat myself each step of the way. Vegan for a day, one week, half of a month, one month, 2 months, etc. Who cares if people don’t see the value in your celebrations. I also use these moments for self-evaluation – what else I can incorporate to add value to myself, my food and my experience.
8. Be confident!
There will be endless people telling you what you are doing is senseless, hopeless and nonsense. At the end of the day, you make decisions that are best for you and not others. Have your goal in mind and don’t let the haters or ignorant people stifle your accomplishments. Do you, boo boo!
My habibi, Vegan has a lot of loving, passionate and great looking friends looking to be in committed relationships. YOLO. Give it a (wheatgrass) shot. You never know, soon you could be celebrating six months, too!
The information published in this post was intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in the content should be considered, or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.