Blog 5.0: How to start the journey to a plant based lifestyle–Part 2:
Only you can decide if baby steps fit you better or if you are ready for a leap. One of the first questions that arises is – is it necessary to go 100% plant based, or perhaps 98% or even 95% will do the trick. When you get nearly all of your calories from plant foods, you will reap most of the health benefits. However, most people attest that it’s actually easier to make the switch all the way. Once you have mentally decided that certain foods are off the menu, you will no longer obsess over them. If you continue to include animal foods in your diet, even sparingly, there’s a danger that your craving for animal foods might persist and may in fact increase. Furthermore, your taste buds adapt, often in as little as 21 days, and once you have been on a plant based diet for a while, you will find that animal foods are no longer appetizing.
With that in mind, one way to start the transition is by doing a 21 day kickstart such as the one offered by PCRM(Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). This program provides you daily emails with support, recipes, and further motivation. There are many other kickstarts available on line but the website for this kickstart is http://www.pcrm.org/kickstartHome
Redoing the kitchen: If your fridge, freezer or pantry is filled with meat, dairy, and processed foods, then start replacing these items with wholesome plant based options. Go grocery shopping on a full stomach, you are less likely to give into temptation. As indicated in part 1 of this blog, shop for whole grains, legumes, fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits instead of animal foods.
Though your eventual goal is to eat as much whole foods as possible, it is perfectly fine to trade out animal foods with plant based counterparts when making the transition. Most grocery stores now carry vegan chicken, plant based bacon, and many other mock or faux meats. If you like spaghetti with meatballs. Trade out the traditional meatballs with vegan meatballs, readily available in the freezer section of most grocery stores. Instead of dairy milk try soy milk or almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk etc. Instead of dairy butter, try vegan butter by Earth Balance. There is a new app which helps in veganizing your favorite foods called Gonutss, available on iOS and android.
Preparing the Food: These websites have great recipes. Forks over knives, Oh my Veggies, findingvegan.com and many others. Borrow some vegan cookbooks from the library, see which one you like before buying one. Now there are multiple websites which offer plant based meal plans, partially prepared meals, and fully prepared frozen meals. For frozen meals, try https://www.plantpurenation.com/collections/foods. Also check out this great article from One Green Planet, http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/plant-based-meal-services-you-should-be-ordering-from-today/.
Eating out: More and more restaurants are now offering vegetarian and vegan options on their menu. You can check the menu of most restaurants online. The Happy Cow App available for iOS and android, gives information on nearby vegan restaurants, vegetarian ones and veg friendly eateries, world wide.Vegan xpress App is primarily useful for chain restaurants in North America whereas Veganagogo App is useful if you are travelling abroad and don’t speak the local language.
Community: If you live in a big city, there are so many options in terms of vegan groups, plant based groups, potlucks and the like. If you live in Houston, VSOP potluck meets 2nd Saturdays and is a wonderful place to try new food and meet like-minded individuals. If you are interested in eating healthy, start a potluck at your workplace. Once you build it, you will be surprised how many other people share the same interest. Even if you live in a small town, through facebook and other social media, support and encouragement is just a click away.
Through various websites, blogs, apps and community support, there’s no better time than now to start your journey to a healthier plant based lifestyle.