I was one of those people who got to eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and I would never have to worry about gaining weight. My diet consisted of Taco Bell, pizza, cheeseburgers, ice cream, chicken nuggets, and basically all the bad things you could think of. I never cared about what I ate because I was naturally thin, and what I put in my body didn’t really matter to me. When “veganism” started to become more talked about online, I thought to myself all the time that I could never ever become vegan. I never thought it would be possible for me to give up all of my favorite foods, and I had no desire to even try. It wasn’t until my skin started breaking out right when I was about to turn 20 that I started to pay attention to what I’m putting in my body. After months of trying every face wash and medication, I decided to cut back on my dairy intake because a ton of people told me dairy can cause acne. So I let myself have dairy once a day for a bit, then once a week, then I started seeing results and decided to just give it up for good. What I thought was me cutting back on dairy resulted in a full plant-based diet 3 months later. A plant-based diet means no dairy, no meat, no eggs, and no fish. I promise it sounds a lot harder than it is. Here’s some tips if you’re thinking about following a plant-based diet:
1. Do Research
By far the most important step. It amazes me how manipulated we are by the meat and dairy industries. All it took for me was watching a few videos and seeing a few pictures that completely turned me off from consuming anything coming from any animal. We were always told we need to drink cow’s milk for strong bones and need to eat meat for protein but those are lies. OUR BODIES ARE NOT MADE FOR THAT STUFF. No one is aware of what these animals go through every second of the day to put food on our plate when there’s SO many other options. My favorite video I’ve seen is called 101 Reasons To Be Vegan. I promise you’ll have a totally different outlook on what you eat by the end of that video. My friend Koi made a video about veganism and why it’s good for the planet which is also really eye opening. Also, I live for Freelee The Banana Girl on YouTube, and she is a huge part of why I’m vegan. I highly recommend watching those videos and then telling a family member or friend about it.
2. Watch “What I Eat In A Day” videos
I’m such a foodie and What I Eat In A Day (VEGAN/PLANT-BASED) videos on YouTube are really great for people who want to try to be vegan and don’t know where to start. A common complaint is that being vegan is expensive but rice, beans, and potatoes are the cheapest food you can buy. Of course if you’re buying meat and dairy substitutes from whole foods every week it can get expensive, but for the most part it shouldn’t be. These YouTube videos are really helpful to get ideas for new foods and recipes to try. Some of my favorites are by Tess Begg, Lexie Lombard, ItsMandari, FabLunch and Niomi Smart.
3. Talk to vegan friends
One of my besties is vegan and she’s really helped me stay on track. We go to brunch every weekend and find plant based options in different restaurants. Having someone close to you who’s vegan is super helpful. If you’re the only person you’ve ever met who’s plant based then don’t give up! Pack snacks and plan your meals so that if you’re out and can’t eat anything, you won’t be tempted to ruin your new diet.
4. Slowly transition
A lot of people try to cut everything out at once which I think is really great, but also extremely difficult. To wake up one morning and decide you’re not eating your favorite foods ever again is a little harsh. It took me around 3 months to go fully plant based. I first started by cutting back on cheese to once a day ( yep, that’s how much I ate cheese ), then to once every few days, and so on. I was able to completely cut out dairy in my granola bars and chocolate cravings within about 2 months. For meat, I cut out red meat and was just eating chicken for a few weeks until I watched this video on Buzzfeed. I never even tried any type of fish or sushi before so that one wasn’t too hard for me, but the last thing I gave up was eggs! Once I gave up eggs, I was completely plant based and have been 100% plant based since April 15th 2016. I’m working on having a full vegan lifestyle and hopefully I can get to that point within the next few months! 🙂
5. Go to strictly vegan restaurants
NYC is opening a ton of strictly vegan restaurants, YAY. Of course there’s a ton of vegan options at most restaurants but strictly vegan places have alternatives to dairy and meat. BY CHLOE is one of the most popular because they have vegan versions all the foods we love like vegan mac and cheese, caesar salad, ice cream, burgers, etc. I personally can’t eat a lot of vegan alternative because nuts are a big ingredient and I’m allergic but for most people places like this are a dream. If you’re having a craving, go to a vegan place to satisfy it without ruining your diet. If you don’t live near a vegan restaurant, go to Whole Foods and buy a frozen vegan pizza, vegan ice cream, or chicken (that’s not actually chicken).
6. See results
I’ve seen nothing but incredible results so far. First of all, my skin is pretty much fine now.. Also, this is kind of TMI but I seriously struggled my entire life with going to the bathroom. I used to have to take laxatives every day, and now that I don’t eat anything my body isn’t made to digest, I am fine on my own. I feel such a closer connection with and appreciation animals, and I know that in every meal I eat that no animals was harmed for it. Once you see results, it’s easier to stay motivated and on track.
As you can see I went from carrying around a “NYC Burger Map” (I hate myself lol) to becoming really passionate about a vegan diet. I do not want to force anything on you, I’m just asking you to educate yourself and you can make a decision! Take care of your body because you’re stuck with it forever!!
Pasta and Oreos are vegan, btw. You’ll be ok. 🙂