When I declared myself a vegetarian at the age of 10, my father told me, “You can be a vegetarian, but you have to do it right. You need to know everything about it, because I don’t and I can’t have you die on my watch.” So I read up on it, made the transition, cooked up mistakes, and learned from them accordingly. It’s what you have to do in order to stay healthy while making a radical change to your body. Kicking animal product from your diet is more than going cold (soy) turkey; it’s an evolution. Here are the stages you work through.
Stage 1: Researching Everything
Look into everything about a vegan diet. Find out what nutritional elements you’ll be losing without meat, dairy, and eggs, and decide what supplements you’ll need to replace them. You need to know how you’ll be taking in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12, and you have to be aware how much is the right amount. “Some” is a guess and it’s probably not enough.
Stage 2: Cutting Out Meat
If you’re going vegan for moral reasons, it’s likely not the case you’re going to want to drag out your carnivore legacy. You’re going veg and you’re never turning back. However, if you’re making the change to be healthier (and you have no dietary restrictions), it might be best for you take a few weeks to do so. A swift change in your body’s routine can potentially result in a relapse. Avoid the risk by cutting out one thing each week, starting with red meat and working your way through poultry and fish.
Stage 3: Kicking Dairy and Eggs
[caption id="attachment_331020" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Some egg substitutes by vegan.com[/caption]
The next step is to continue the evolution. Now, having moved beyond meat, maybe ride vegetarianism for a week or two. If it’s to your liking, then start dropping an animal byproduct each week, beginning with the (typically) most challenging removal of cheese and ending with simple ingredients like honey.
Stage 4: Freaking Out Because You Think Your Body is Shutting Down
You will lose weight, since fruits and vegetables are typically low in calories. Your stomach won’t be as kind to you, since you’ve ramped up your fiber intake. You will feel weaker overall. It is not the end of the world. Don’t give up on your body because it definitely hasn’t given up on you.
Stage 5: Correcting Your Diet
Here’s where you realize that a vegan diet is much more than a simple no-meat, no-animal product policy. Even though you headed into this deal fully aware that you were removing entire categories of food, there will still be a great deal of tiny changes you need to make for big impact, like increasing your devouring of nuts and avocados to combat weight loss or balancing your fiber intake to kick all that bloating (head’s up, you’ll want 25 grams of daily fiber per 1,800 calories).
Stage 6: Discovering What You Like
This is the fun part where you experiment. You’ll try recipes at home, ranging from fulfilling salads to eggless and milkless cupcakes. You’ll check out vegan restaurants in your area to see how professionals do it. You’ll make meals with fake meat products and see what you like best, whether it’s grilling tofu or heating up vegan buffalo wings from the store. You'll discover you can substitute eggs in ways you never would've guessed, from chia seeds and bananas to peanut butter and applesauce. You’ll come to a conclusion of what your diet should be, one that will make you healthy and happy.
Stage 7: Existing as a Vegan
Hooray, you are now a vegan! That means, hooray, you have to answer a lot of questions, explain a ton of things, and hear the same load of jokes! You’ll get used to people, politely and sarcastically, asking, “Can you eat this?” You’ll refresh your studies over the years to better explain to visiting relatives how you get protein and haven’t mutated into someone with the bone structure of a sunflower. You’ll basically come up with ready-made responses to dish out before people finish asking their questions. You’ll get very good at skimming menus to find your available dishes. You’ll discover fascinating ways to turn down non-vegan food with good manners. You’ll be a bonafide vegan and no amount of bacon or cheese will be able to sway you.