April 22nd marks the beginning of VegWeek as well as Earth Day. Did you know that leaving animals off your plate is not only better for the animals and your health, but also a great way to help the environment? That’s right, you can help save the planet by going vegan!
Animal agriculture is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also responsible for over 90% of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. And, about 80%-90% of our water consumption goes to grow feed for livestock.
By going vegan you can save:
- 1100 gallons of water
- 30 sq ft of forests
- 20 pounds of CO2
- the life of an animal
How to Go Vegan
Ready to go vegan but not sure where to start? Today, going vegan is easy. There are many products on the market to help you make the transition to a vegan lifestyle and many local restaurants and national chains now offer vegan options on their menu. Whether you’re going vegan for the animals, your health, or the planet, you can make a positive impact with every bite you take.
To help you get started on your vegan journey, I asked some fellow Vegan Lifestyle Coaches for their best tips for going vegan. Here’s what they had to say.
Find Your Community
“Focus on one day at a time, one meal at a time and go at your own pace. Start by veganizing your favorite nonvegan meals. Instead of beef burritos, eat bean burritos. Instead of spaghetti with meat sauce, eat spaghetti with marinara sauce — or add lentils, mushrooms, or beefless crumbles.
But one of the biggest things you can do to help you transition is to find your community. Almost every medium to large city has a vegan group on facebook. Just search facebook for “my city veg group” and select the groups tab to find your community. I started my local veg group 10 years ago when I became vegan. It’s helped to meet other like-minded people. We share recipes, advice, and even get together for meals! You’ll not only have a great support system, but you’ll also make some new friends!
Keep it Simple
“Keep it simple. Google vegan recipes and you’ll find all kinds of intricate, complicated, and fancy plates. Did you eat fancy on Wednesday nights pre-vegan? Doubt it. So don’t go overboard now that you’re on the vegan train. Balanced plant-based meals are actually quite simple: vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, grains, and nuts and seeds – so start there. How about a simple bowl of pinto beans and Spanish rice over steamed leafy greens? Yep, it’s vegan. And it’s easy. And it’s delicious”. ~JL Fields, Colorado Springs, CO
Become a Swapetarian
“Swap out your favorite, easy staples for vegan versions: hamburgers for Beyond Meat burgers, lunch-meat sandwiches at the office for Tofurky or Field Roast sandwiches, pasta with meat sauce for ground veat and marinara sauce, etc. Don’t reinvent meals; just revamp ingredients!” ~ Michelle Schaefer, Lafayette, IN
Yes, You Can Still Eat Out
“When at a restaurant, simply explain what Vegan means and ask the chef to prepare something for you. You’ll get great dishes that might. It even be on the menu!!!” ~ Susan Deninger, Brooklyn, New York
Make it an Adventure
“I prefer to cook at home, but We (hubby & I) also love to make “finding” new vegan restaurants to try while at home or traveling a fun adventure. And if we can’t find an exclusively Vegan spot, we just order off the Sides section of the menu. KISS-Keep It Simple Sweety – salad, veggies (sautéed or steamed), rice, beans, potatoes – are on most menus.” ~ Sarah Fried Strock, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Find Vegan Alternatives
“Make a list of your favorite foods and make a vegan swap or alternative. Have patience with yourself, and with your friends and family who may not be on the vegan path yet. Change can be scary.” ~ Shelly Hughes, PA
Make New Friends
“Make new friends! Find your vegan support community through social media and community activities. Vegans usually want to share what worked for them and try new things together. A community of friends that support your journey and the changes you are making is joyful.” ~ Deanna Meyler
“Be genuine and patient with the people you are helping. Very few of us were born vegan. 😊 The compassion we show will reflect back.” ~ Beth Hoffner, Fargo, North Dakota
Veganize Your Fridge
“Turn your fridge into an amazing (Trimazing) Salad Bar!” ~ Cindy Thompson, Seattle, WA
Don’t Get Overwhelmed
“When you go vegan, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by what to eat or what you’re no longer eating. Try focusing on figuring out the best way to nourish your body with the foods you like. Think about all the wonderful, colorful foods you can enjoy, and learn the nutritional benefits of them. This will give you a better understanding of food and how it impacts your health. Feeling great & being healthy on a vegan diet definitely helps you stick with it!” ~ Jare Longacre, Los Angeles, CA
It’s OK to Not Be Perfect
“Be patient and understand that completely changing the way you eat can take time. It’s okay to not be perfect! Start figuring out how to incorporate more fruits and veggies, and you can slowly phase out meat and dairy. It took me a few months. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Also, I learned my taste buds took a while to transition, so just be patient with yourself. Feeling guilt or shame is not what you’re ever going for. ” ~ Chani Farhaven, Seattle, Washington
Go at Your Own Speed
“I tell people to just go at their own speed; don’t do too much too soon. Do what you can, find out what foods you like and what foods you don’t like, and go from there. And never, ever beat yourself up for slipping up. Just acknowledge it and move on.” ~ Robyn Swanson, Berkley, CA
Ready to get started? Great! VegWeek and Earth Day is a great day to start.
And, one last tip: If you feel yourself starting to slip, remember your why. Why did you decide to transition to a vegan lifestyle? Remembering your why will help you stay on track. If you need a little help, contact a Vegan Lifestyle Coach for more tips, advice, and personalized help as well as how to make sure you’re getting the proper nutrition, meal planning, and more!