Transitioning from a omnivorous to a plant based diets can be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding journeys a person can make. It requires a lot of flexibility, planning and most importantly, determination.
Before you begin your journey, you must consider the reasons why you want to make the steps to become a vegan.
This may be for ethical reasons – maybe you watched a documentary about the treatment of animals in farms.
Health reasons – perhaps you want to lose weight and lower your cholesterol, or just reap the many health benefits of a plant based diet and improve your overall health. You can read more about the health benefits of a vegan diet in my latest post.
Economic reasons – since meat generally costs a lot of money, switching to a plant based diet is sometimes a strategy to help cut costs.
Of course, for many it may also be a combination of these reasons.
It is important to firstly highlight your motivations for changing your diet by writing it down to remind yourself about why you are doing this when times get tough. This will minimise the risk of you giving it up when you are struggling and help to keep you on track.
There are many different approaches to transitioning to a plant based diet, some people find going ‘cold turkey’ is the easiest approach is better for them as it is much quicker. However they may suffer some side effects of making such a significant change in such a short time such as headaches, digestion issues and tiredness.
This is completely normal, as the body is cleansing the body of toxins, animal proteins, pesticides and hormones that are included in a meat based diet. They also might suffer with a lot of cravings for meat and dairy products due to eliminating them suddenly.
Different things work for everybody, but in general, a gradual transition is recommended as it minimises side effects and allows flexibility. This can be personalised to however slow or quick you would like to transition.
If you do decide to take this approach, it is important to learn about these side effects and how to deal with them. It may be useful to include a detox phase at the beginning of your transition, including minimal processed foods and a clean, balanced diet. However you should ideally consult a nutritionist before taking this approach.
Step one – Eliminate all animal products that will not be missed.
Everyone has foods they like and dislike, so take some time and make a list of animal based products from which you enjoy least, to most. Maybe you don’t often eat eggs, or perhaps you don’t particularly like the taste of chicken. By eliminating foods you don’t really like first, you will feel more motivated and positive about eating a different diet.
Step two – introduce more plant based food to find which foods you enjoy.
This is an important step as you can experiment with different foods that may be unfamiliar to you, for example, tofu, beans, nuts and legumes. Perhaps if you normally eat spaghetti bolognese with minced beef, try swapping out the beef for lentils. Or maybe introduce plant milks and see which ones best suit your taste.
Step three – gradually remove more animal products according to your list.
Again start with your least favourite, make simple swaps like changing your weekly beef burger with fries to a plant based vegan burger. This way you will not feel like you are missing out, therefore avoid any cravings.
Step four – Address and remove favourite animal products.
This can be the most challenging step for many people – whether it’s chocolate you love in the evening, cheese along side your glass of wine or a splash of milk in your coffee. We all have something that comforts us, but remember that there are plant based alternatives for everything these days! We are extremely lucky that veganism is becoming increasingly popular and there are now so many amazing vegan options for chocolate, cheese and meat substitutes. There is really no reason you should go without!
If you are struggling, be kind to yourself. Remind yourself of why you are doing this.
As mentioned in the beginning, it can be extremely challenging to switch to a plant based diet, but the help of a coach or nutritionist can make it significantly easier. They will help to keep you accountable, motivated and ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients that your body requires to reap the full benefits of a vegan diet.
If you are interested in transitioning to a vegan diet, I offer one-to-one coaching with personalised meal plans and 24 hour support. If you would be interested in this, please get in touch with me using the form below – I would be delighted to help you on your first steps towards living a wholesome, cruelty free life!