I read an article recently, which stated that 80% of people that attempt the switch from a meat to a vegetarian or plant based diet fail. Its not hard to believe- we’ve all heard it before at some point.
As someone who was raised vegetarian and is now vegan, I don’t really know how big of a switch it is from a carnivorous to a plant based diet but I do know is that a wholesome, well planned, plant based diet provides me with all the nutrition that I need. In addition, it’s good for the planet, our fury friends, is affordable and completely satisfying. More than ever, it’s becoming a choice that is easy to stick to, if you know how.
When I was first introduced to veganism I didn’t think it was for me- I didn’t think I’d ever want to, nor be able to, give up the foods I enjoyed (now I wonder how I ever enjoyed them in the first place) so much. Veganism sounded so restrictive and bland but oh how naïve I was! I have never felt healthier or happier in my life than I do now as a vegan. The stigma around changing to a plant based diet is that you will be ‘giving up’ so much, even though I’ve gained far more foods than I ‘lost’. It did take time, patience and learning, however, and was a long road to the nourishing, satisfying and abundant diet I have today.
My journey to becoming vegan isn’t that of an overly interesting one. I didn’t have a life-changing event that made me want to change my ways- when I first started to make the change it wasn’t exactly a conscious decision. I just gradually started to make changes based firstly on animal rights and eventually, I realised, also based on improving my health. After moving out of home at 17, I quickly realised fast food dinners and junk food was no way to be living- constantly getting sick, feeling tired and lacking energy whilst also noticing dairy was making me feel bloated, heavy and congested.
I knew it was time for change. When I first cut most of those things out of my diet I simply ‘gave up’ foods, rather than exchanged them; so, unsurprisingly at first it wasn’t working for me. I really wasn’t getting enough nutrition. I was eating boring meals and was doomed for failure- but I had switched to a plant based diet so surely that meant I was healthy, right?
Wrong. I’ve realised it takes organisation, patience with yourself, research and passion to successfully make the switch. If you’re thinking of making the change being prepared is vital, and the following things have been what made my journey now a successful one.
Why are you making the change?
Health benefits, animal rights, environmental factors? Knowing why you are doing something, and having a clear understanding what exactly you stand for helps you make decisions that you will be able to stick to. Knowledge is power.
How am I going to make the changes?
This is where I admittedly went wrong; along with many others I’m sure. Ask yourself, how am I going to make a plant based diet work for me? If I predominantly eat meat/dairy, what new foods will now be the staple of my diet? Nobody is ever going to succeed if they are not getting enough nutrition or are consuming food they truly enjoy. There is no reason to put yourself through the pain of a boring, dull vegan diet that is doomed for failure.
Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.
Cost- many people are put off by the cost of a plant based diet, or should I say what they think it will cost. A plant-based diet can be full of expensive super-foods, supplements and exotic ingredients but it really doesn’t need to be. It can be an affordable lifestyle that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Eat seasonally, eat locally and chose inexpensive staples like bananas, rice, potatoes, sweet potato, greens and oats.