I didn't turn vegan cold turkey, I turned to a vegan diet out of necessity. I was vegetarian for many years and was suffering from severe heartburn and reflux. It was BAD. At times, I felt like I was having a heart attack; the pain was that unbearable I thought I was goint to die! Yes it was as bad as that.
Medication didn't help. So I decided to eat alkaline food only. To my surprise, I was able to cure the heartburn and reflux by switching to a 100% plant based diet, and I also started to sleep better, last but not least I was able to do proper hikes again.
Because of all the pain and nauseness it was an easy choice for me, I was focused on my health only. I felt so sick I was happy if I managed to cook the vegan and alkaline food for me.
I know it's not that easy for many people - yes, including myself, to go vegan - I made this list 10 tips - for a healthy transition to a vegan lifestyle and diet. Enjoy.
10 tips to a healthy transition to a vegan diet.
1. Clean your kitchen
When you don't have foods in your kitchen you have chosen not to eat, it's easer not to eat it when it's out of reach and sight. Go through all your cupboards and fridge and get rid of everything that's not 100% plant based or processed.
Foods in unopned packages can be donated to your local street kitchen, everything else goes in the garbage bin.
2. Stock up your kitchen
Time to go shopping, fresh fruits and vegetables is a given. Here are what I always have in my cupboard:
- Dried beans (any will do), lentils and chickpeas
- Grains, rice, quinoa, bulgur, farro or millet
- Nuts and seeds
- Vegetable stock (not necessary)
- Nutritional yeast (not necessary)
- Herbs whatever is in season
3. Baby Steps
Start slowly: my suggestion is you start by adding foods to your diet and not extracting. Start by eating a salad before your lunch for a week, then expand to lunch and dinner for 7 days. When you eat a salad before you meal you will, without thinking about it, eat less. Now it's time to eat 50% per meal - expand to 75%. Finally removed everything that's not plant based.
4. Eat what you like
If you don't like kale now, then you will not like kale when you transion to a vegan diet. Eat the fruits and veggies you like.
5. Cut down on processed foods
Processed foods are bad for us, because they make us addicted to fat, sugar and salt. If you eat pre-prepared meals, do start to either learn to cook yourself or just do it. There are many videos for all levels. A few videos are added at the end of this post.
Drop the softdrinks, it's time to start to drink water when you are thirsty and not drink sugar. A beer or wine occationally - vegan of course and with a meal is a nice treat.
6. Know your food.
Most of the commercial vegan products on the market such as fake burgers, meatballs, and, cheese are processed foods and not healthy. Think saturated fat and excessive amino acids and, these foods are often packed with highly refined oils, flours, sugars, and salts. Therefore, it's better to indulge in these foods only once in a while. The good thing is our bodies get addicted to what we eat most of, be prepared your body will soon prefer fresh foods to processed.
7. Make you meals easy and fun.
Unless your hobby is cooking or you are a chef, I'll recommend you find easy and fast recipes. Then learn how to make your meals more exciting and fun.
8. Give up dairy
Now it's time to give up dairy, start with the kinds you are the least keen about. Then expand to the remaining. There are plant milk and nut milk to drink, for cooking, tea and coffee. There are also vegan cheese, in the transition periode it can be good to buy those, but it's not recommended to continue eating it as it's too processed. I have added a cheese recipe at the end of this post. Don't get too excited about vegan cheese as it does't taste like cheese, at least I don't think so.
Try to eliminate dairy from your breakfast, overnight oats is a great thing to eat, in the summer fresh fruit and bread. Quinoa bowls is another fun thing to try.
10. Go easy on yourself.
You ate something non-vegan? don't beat yourself up, just go back to your vegan diet immediately. Nothing bad happened, you are human. After my reflux was healed and I could eat "normal" again, I planned cheat meals, at the beginning once a week, now it's approx once a month. Remeber you are on a journey not a race but do remember to get some kind of exercise.
Vegan Cashew Cheese
- 1 cup of soaked cashew nuts
- 2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 60 ml water
- salt & pepper to taste
Pulse everything but the water - add the water if necessary.