Whether it’s your favorite celebrity or your best friend, it seems like everyone is embracing the vegan lifestyle. Some cite compassion towards animals as a reason to make the switch, while others are simply becoming more conscious eaters. There’s no denying the scientifically-researched health benefits like reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and blood pressure, but getting over the mental hurdle of giving up meat is no easy feat. “The health movement has grown exponentially within the last 10 years, and food options in conventional grocery stores and restaurants have evolved to accommodate the health conscious,” explains holistic health practitioner and functional medicine nutritionist, Michelle Mitchum. Whether you’re super serious about going vegan or even just a little bit curious—here are a few tips to assist with the transition.

No. 1: Start Out Slow

Switching from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet isn’t always as simple as it sounds. Jumping in head first can cause frustration and lower the likelihood of making a long-term change. “A primarily plant-based diet is a great idea for most people generally,” shares Mitchum. ”There are certain groups that benefit from eating meat protein, however, diets consisting of minimal animal fats and no processed foods, will result in weight loss.”

Begin by building out a modified eating schedule, like going vegan a few days per week. “Try going vegan on Monday, then a week later go vegan Monday and Tuesday, and work your way up to 100% vegan over the course of about 7 weeks,” explains Jenné Claiborne, blogger, vegan chef, and host of Sweet Potato Soul.

You can also start by perusing the produce aisle with intention—look at veggies you never gave a second thought. “Crowd out the non-vegan foods by adding more fruits, veggies, beans, grains, and vegan recipes. This will give your body time to get used to eating more fiber. It’ll also help you to figure out which vegan foods and recipes you prefer,” she continues.

raw-food-recipe-mini-flax-pizza-bitesSource: Russel James – TheRawChef.com – Mini Flax Pizza Bites

No. 2: Find a Purpose

Like any goal, setting an intention can make you much more focused. Write down a few reasons why you want to give up meat and what it actually means to you. For Claiborne, it was the moral dilemma  that comes from the cruel treatment and slaughter of millions of land animals a day for food that kept her accountable. Remember, a big lifestyle switch is easier to sustain if you wholeheartedly believe in your decision, so do the research to back your goal with purpose.

“There is also the uncomfortable fact that a planet of seven billion people cannot all be meat eaters, animal agriculture requires more land, water, and other resources than we can muster,” she continues. “[Eating meat] has a [negative] effect on the planet—animal agriculture is the leading cause of environmental degradation and climate change.”

No. 3: Get Ready for Some Side Effects

Vegan website, One Green Planet, reminds us not everything is rainbows and sunshine when you make the switch to a plant-based diet. Get ready for a potential rollercoaster ride. People often refer to “detoxing symptoms”  when explaining some of the preliminary effects of going vegan,” warns Claiborne. “This includes anything from increased headaches to bloating.”

Making a major overhaul takes time—you have to get both physically and mentally adjusted to a lifestyle change. Often the “Standard American Diet” is high in animal products, sugar, refined foods, and low in fiber and nutrient dense veggies. “The ‘true’ detoxification symptoms like headaches and skin breakouts, will often last for no more than 10 days,” adds Mitchum. “The other symptoms, like bloating, in mostly likely a combination of things—for example, a digestive tract detoxification may be needed, potentially one that kills intestinal parasites, or you incorporate too many cruciferous vegetables into to your diet.”

No. 4: Re-Evaluate Your Social Life

You might be asking yourself, “once I go vegan is my social life over?” No! It just takes a bit of thought and subtle preparation. “Socializing these days is very easy for a vegan. Events often offer great food options for vegans and vegetarians,” shares Mitchum. “To be on the safe side always carry vegan snacks such as nuts, fruit and dried fruits with you, in the event that the options available are not attractive to you.”  By your own survival pack, you’re less likely to be tempted to go off course or eat foods that aren’t in alignment with your goals.

hbz-august-2012-vegan-vanity-deSource: GetHolisticHealth.com – “The Health Benefits of Being Vegan”

By introducing your circle to vegan items, you may find solidarity. And, if your meat-eating posse doesn’t conform? Make new vegan friends! “Join an in-person meetup group, hang out in online forums, and go to vegan workshops or cooking classes,” urges Claiborne. Basically, put yourself out there!

No.5: Embrace The Health Benefits

Studies show that plant-based eaters have lower BMI, and lower risk of developing heart disease (high blood pressure), and diabetes. “Plant-based diets have also been shown to help reverse these lifestyle diseases,” adds Claiborne.

In fact, more vegetarians converting into veganism as well. “Dairy consumption has been linked to reproductive cancers, acne, and digestive issues,” Claiborne shares. “I transitioned from a vegetarian diet and the health benefits were more drastic as when I gave up meat. Most of us cannot digest it well (human’s are suited for drinking mother’s milk from another human, not a cow,goat,sheep, or other land animals etc.)

It’s also hard to overlook the beauty benefits—according to a PETA.org article, the fiber from produce and whole grains crank up that healthy glow by flushing out toxins. “Vitamins C and E, commonly found in healthy vegan meals, are powerful antioxidants that neutralize skin-damaging free radicals and help fight wrinkles and brown spots, promoting an overall youthful appearance.”

No. 6: Don’t Cop Out with Carbs

People who choose to pursue being a vegetarian, yet consume a high amount of foods like pasta, breads, other processed foods still are linked to obesity high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension, among other preventable diseases.

The biggest misconception about going vegan is that you will [automatically] be healthy,” Mitchum reminds us. “You health has a great chance of improving, but the most important part of the process it to know what to eat to maintain your health, during your journey.” Instead, Set yourself up for success by sitting with a professional, getting an assessment, and allowing them to support you in your process.

 

janellehickman

Janell Hickman is an unapologetic beauty girl! She has a deep penchant for bright lips, short hair cuts, flawless skin, and lush lashes. She writes for quite a few fab media outlets including Gilt.com and Doobop.com and she loves and lives in Brooklyn. Instagram: @Jmargaretbeauty