1. Don’t jump right in at the deep end!
Going from a full on meat eater or even veggie to Vegan overnight is not going to work! The biggest reason I hear from people is “oh I’d love to go vegan but i couldn’t live without Cheese / Chocolate / Bacon”. If you feel there is one particular food that is going to tempt you off track then don’t cut it out straight away. Making small changes is going to be more successful than going cold turkey (excuse the pun).
If you can’t live without cheese then keep eating cheese but change everything else. If that even seems too extreme change one bit at a time. Swap your normal milk for Soy, Almond or my favourite oat Milk.
2. It’s not about restriction it’s a choice
People always say to me “oh you have such great will power / self discipline”. To be honest, i don’t. I’m a divil for vegan treats but when it comes to eating vegan i look at it like this; It’s not that i can’t have it, it’s that i am choosing not to have it.
For me going vegan was for ethical reasons so it’s a bit easier when you look at animal products and think of the cruelty involved. If you’re going vegan for health reasons then it might have a bit more to do with discipline but at the end of the day, the thought process is still the same, you’re just choosing not to have the cake/piece of chocolate or Burger.
3. Don’t limit yourself to one type of food.
You don’t just have to eat salad and nuts, if you do you’ll get bored pretty quickly. There is a plethora of food that you can eat when you go vegan. A simple google search will throw up a mountain of results and instagram is an absolute treasure trove of recipes. All your favourite foods can and have been veganised from cheese to chocolate to eggs (yes eggs) to sausages. you name it, it’s on the market.
And you don’t have to venture into the deep dark wilds of health food shops either. Tesco & Dunnes now stock Vegan milks, cheeses, yogurts, meat replacements, chocolate and ice-cream!! (See I told you I’m a divil for treats!).
But you should really try to limit these and eat more whole foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses and nuts.
Most restaurants have a vegan option on their menu or if you call in advance, are happy to prepare a dish for you.Dublin has come a long way in catering for Vegans and there are even vegan and veggie only restaurants out there. There is literally NO excuse!!
4. Plan ahead
Set aside one day, like Sunday, for meal prep. Make a couple of dishes like currys, chilli’s, stews or soup that are easy to freeze. Take them for lunches too or prep a salad the night before.
There are a couple of recipes online for jar salads. These can be made and stored for up to three days. They show you how to layer the salads so nothing gets soggy. If you have food ready to go you will be less likely to pop into the shop for a quick sandwich.
Keep snacks in a drawer at work too. Things like nuts and fruit are great or some chopped raw veg and hummus is always a winner..
5. Get your vitamins sorted
The reason i left this until last is not because it is least important, in fact it’s quite the opposite, but it is the one i am most guilty of. When i’m being good i take a vegan multi vitamin, B complex and Vitamin D.
Your local Health food store will have vegan supplements (yes most supplements are not vegan believe it or not) and will be able to advise you on what dosage you need. My top 3 to supplements are B12, Iron and Vitamin D.
You can get products like bread and milk fortified with Vitamin B12, Nutritional Yeast is a great source of this and is delicious sprinkled on top of food and is a great substitute for that cheesy flavour.
Iron will be important to watch especially if you are currently a meat eater and is best taken in chelated form. And Vitamin D, well lets face it, none of us get enough sun in our lives but it’s essential for our bodies performance, this can be found in liquid and capsule form.
You can always have your bloods tested regularly to monitor your levels but remember it’s important to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure optimal health.