I’ve spoken a bit about this before; how after a decade as a vegetarian – with a stint in there as a vegan – in my teens and six months as a vegan last year, I’ve made the decision to adopt a plant-based diet for the third and final time. Third time lucky and all that! So, here are my top tips for changing to a vegan diet.
So, why did I make the change?
I’ve always been an animal lover, so this does play a big part in my decision, but it’s also got to do with the health benefits that a whole food, plant – based diet brings, along with the fact that as an individual (and as an family ultimately) I want to reduce our environmental footprint and know that no longer supporting animal agriculture will play a part in that. A very small part I know, but I do believe that if each one of us reduces our meat intake – and if we eat meat, select produce from ethical, sustainable sources – then we’ll be a healthier, more environmentally responsible society.
But I’m far from perfect and this is all still new to me so feel free to tell me to shut up! I’m still wearing leather, cotton and silk and my makeup and skincare collection is far from vegan. But I’ve made my start and plan to educate myself on all of the above so that I can start to make productive steps in the right direction.
And just over a month in, this feels different and I know that this is a long-term commitment. And it feels easier and that I’m attacking it in a far better way so have a greater chance of success. And I realise that I’ve done a few things differently this time; things that have helped and are helping so thought that I’d share my journey as a returnee vegan for those who that might be embarking on a plant-based diet and might find it useful to read about somebody going through the same thing.
And what has helped?
Who knew how much difference this would make? It probably sounds like a no-brainer for those of you ‘grown ups’ who do it already, but we didn’t. We’d talk about menu planning and getting everything ready for the working/school week to come but that was it really – we’d talk about it – and promptly forget about it and then spend the rest of the week flapping around, dragging the boys to and from activities and planning meals on the fly. But grabbing a hot chicken from Chargrilled Charlies on the way back from the Football Factory just doesn’t cut it when you’re a vegan; a bit more thought and planning is needed to make sure that you’re eating a wide variety of foods and getting all the nutrients that you need. Well it’s necessary for me anyway and I think that that was the key reason for me failing last time; not taking the time to think about my weekly menu meant that I invariably ate fairly plain meals and felt a bit cheated when I watched my family tuck into their far more appealing options. And it just wasn’t sustainable.
So, I now plan my weekly menu (on my Kikki K planner) every Sunday – as well as the evening meals for my husband and my boys to align them as much as possible – and do a weekly online shop for the main pantry items; I then pop into the supermarket to get fresh fruit and veggies after school drop off on Monday morning which I top up through the week. This way, the fridge is always full of healthy snacks, I don’t have to think about what we’re eating and worry that I’m not getting enough protein, calcium, whole grains etc etc and the working week is just a hell of a lot easier. Thank god!
Weekly batch cooking!
And along the same lines of planning and shopping, we’ve been trying to cook a meal or two on Sunday afternoon, so that we have leftovers and an easy start for the week e.g. this weekend my husband cooked a lasagna for him and the boys and a vegan Shepherd’s Pie for me and it was delish.
And I’ve made a concerted effort to read widely around the subject so that I can get tips, tricks and plant-based inspiration from a variety of sources: recipe books, blogs, Instagram, YouTube etc. I’ve written about some of my fave recipe books here but added a new one to the shelf this month – Happy Food by Bettina Campolucci Bordi – so check it out, it’s got some great one pot dishes and a variety of eclectic dishes for lunches and mains that I like the look of. I’m also enjoying following Madeleine Olivia on YouTube and Lucy Lucraft on Instagram and her blog.
Cooking..find your 10!
I’ve also started to cook properly which might sound a bit odd if you don’t know me. But hilarious if you do..! Historically my husband has been the household’s cook as he’s bloody brilliant at it, it relaxes him, and it’s just been the way that we’ve divided responsibilities. I do the boys’ breakfasts, lunch boxes and afternoon tea – so am quite the adept snack maker- but think we all know that that’s not the same thing. So yes, I have been actually teaching myself to cook properly and have been following recipes. Finally, at the age of 44..too funny! And I’m loving it, as rubbish as I am at the moment. Because my plan is to get at least 10 fab dishes (for dinner – breakfast and lunch are easy) under my belt; ones that I can whip up easily and which I love as I found that I got really bored of food quite quickly last time so want to make sure that I build up my repertoire of crowd pleasers to avoid that happening again.
Understand your why?
And for those hard days – which I’m sure will come – I think that it’s important to be really clear on why you’re making this big life decision so that you can recall that; for me it will be focusing on the health, environment and animal welfare benefits that this diet and approach to life will bring.
I hope that helps. Have you recently started a plant-based diet and how are you finding it?