I tried committing to a plant-based diet twice before, but both times I failed and I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t until I met my friend Ninian in Costa Rica that I developed my first genuine interest in the vegan diet. For Ninian it wasn’t about achieving a fit lifestyle or being trendy, she made her plant-based transition for health reasons, which made so much more sense to me. As someone who has struggled with chronic stomach pains and more recently an unshakable bout of hormonal acne, changing my diet seemed no longer an option but a requirement. Her move to vegan was fueled by something I could relate to and that’s what made all the difference for me.
I practiced plant-based eating while in Costa Rica by teaming up with Ninian to make small, easy meals and I found it wasn’t so challenging when I had a purpose and plan for it. Since being back in Atlanta I have put myself to the test and I can proudly say that I’ve been achieving a vegan lifestyle since committing to these 3 steps.
1. Meal Planning
I purchased this cute little weekly menu planner for under $5 at Michael’s. I use to aimlessly go grocery shopping with maybe one recipe in mind that I was eager to craft, only to come home and scratch my head about what to cook for the rest of the week. I would end up wasting tons of fresh veggies and typically succumb to making easy meals (i.e. spaghetti, tacos, black bean burgers). While I always cooked “healthy,” most of it was routine and for convenience.
Once I started consciously planning out each meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner (it’s not as hard as it sounds), I have been able to maintain eating plant-based, vegan meals AND diversify my weekly line up!
The biggest asset to my meal planning has been Pinterest! I promise you if I didn’t have Pinterest transitioning to plant-based would NOT be possible. Planning meals has been so much fun with Pinterest and I’ve tried so many tasty recipes I never would’ve imagined like butternut squash fritters!
I was no pro in the kitchen, but following these recipes I have been able to whip together the most flavorful plant-based meals. With Pinterest there are no excuses left to not at least try. Recipes and ideas are right at your fingertips.
3. Forgiving to Myself
The first thing that I let go was dairy, because like I mentioned in the introduction my acne gave me no choice. Staying away from it has only been hard when I have a hankering for ice cream, but I’ve stayed strong. However, I haven’t just fully made a switch to vegan and never looked back.
With it being summer, the hardest part has been going to cookouts and meet ups with friends. Things are not always vegan-friendly and I can’t say I am always strong enough to turn things down. What I have learned in this process is that beating myself up does no good. I’ve had to learn to forgive myself for eating non-vegan things and give myself praise for being consistent longer than I ever have been.
Overall, it has been a journey. It can be really tough on days when I’d much rather throw together a turkey sandwich and grab whatever chips are nearby, but when I take a bite into a jerked black bean taco with diced sweet potatoes it is soooo worth the effort!
If you’re considering transitioning to a plant-based diet you are not alone in the process. It is hard, no doubt, but a healthier version of you is a happier version of you! Share your progress and let’s help each other press on.
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