Hello Dinner Guests!
In the past two years, I have seen a movement in the vegan lifestyle. People are curious. People are confused. And some people are down right anal about it. If you are reading this, you are probably somewhere in between. You hear about it often and want to know what does being vegan mean and is it right for you. Here are some preliminary triggers you may have experienced. Have you seen an animal rights or health documentary that touched you to the core? Have you seen a fitness pro get fit while living vegan? Is your vegan cousin nagging you about eating swine? Well, maybe not so much the last one but all of us have that health conscious family member that is annoyingly pushy (although they may mean well) about food.
I’m not here to push an agenda. No organization is paying me to promote veganism. That’s not my role. I’m here to support you in YOUR decision to make a lifestyle change. I’ve mentioned before how much I love food. I too have been where you are. I was struggling with the health, ethical and sustainability choices you are facing. After going through the transition to a vegan diet myself, I am going to help you make a more informed decision.
A LITTLE BACKGROUND…
For thousands of years humans have enjoyed a vegan diet. Before the discovery of fire and and a means for hunting game, people relied on the land out of necessity. In modern society, people are choosing to eat vegan for very different reasons. Some champion animal rights. Some fight animal cruelty. Others eliminate animal products for health reasons. And many people choose to support plant farmers. No matter what your reasons for choosing the Vegan Lifestyle, this blog can help you transition with success.
As a plant based educator, I use my experience to help others understand the lifestyle and the various ways it can be expressed. As a child, I was always finicky about meat. For part of my life, I lived in rural Orlando with my great-grandmother. Our home was behind a pig farm and across the street from a sugar cane field. We had food all around us. My grandmother had blackberries, gooseberries, oranges, lemons, and pecans growing on the property. We would often be asked to pick things to process for long term storage or for dinner. Even when visiting family nearby, my cousin would ask us, “What do you want for dinner?” I would say, “Green beans and mashed potatoes!” Then she would say, “okay, well go pick it!” My thought would be like dang! I remember picking corn, peanuts, collard greens, peaches, cantaloupe, green beans, okra and snap peas.
Many people in the rural areas had family farms. I understood at a young age that animals were a part of farm life. I made friends with the animals. When they were slaughtered, I cried because I lost a friend. This affected my choices to not eat meat as a child. My brothers and I would trade food. They ate the meat, I at the veggies. 😉 As I grew older, life became more about survival living in poverty so I did consume meat but as I matured, I made my own choices and landed my first job at 15 to help with the grocery bill. I remember taking the summers off from meat and only eating the seasonal vegetables. I had to make a final choice to take control of the way I wanted to live. Sooooo….. in 2006, I began to slowly transition. I fell off from my goal a few times but I kept trying. Ultimately, in 2009, I made the switch to a 95% plant based diet. I am sharing all the things I learned so you can make the best decision for your life.
- KNOW YOUR WHY- Are you choosing this lifestyle to lose weight? Are you a champion of animal rights? Are you on a limited budget? Do you have health issues and have researched benefits of a vegan diet? All of these reasons are ones that you need to think about before making the switch. If you don’t even understand why you are doing it, it’s probably peer pressure. And we all know that when peer pressure subsides, we retreat to our comfort zone. If you want to be successful, get clear.
- FIND OTHER PLANT-BASED PRACTITIONERS- You’ve heard the saying, if you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people. If you want to maintain a vegan diet, you need to educate yourself and study others who have made the switch. Find articles, ask questions and do not be afraid to keep looking for answers until you are satisfied. There is a lot of fluff and “Alternative Facts” out there. Follow reputable sources.
- START SMALL- The Earth was not built in a day and neither was Rome. Going cold turkey is a risk. Try eliminating one meat or animal sourced product per meal for about a week. If you can manage that, try two meals per week. Then, two meals for two weeks and so on. You have lived an omnivore lifestyle up to this point and it has taken years to train your brain and body. Undoing it should be slow to moderate so you don’t get discouraged. Worse yet, shut your body down. I can’t tell you how awful I felt when I tried to limit protein altogether. I almost went into shock. Seriously. Your body needs protein, carbs, sugar and other vital nutrients to survive. If we consume these in low doses, our energy fades. Talk to your doctor or a nutrtionist about the affects on your body.
- CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE AND PANTRY- Okay, we all know if the cake is there, we gonna eat it right? The key to success for me was that I simply cleaned out the stuff I no longer wanted to eat. Then, I refused to replace it. This happened cold turkey the first time so don’t follow my lead on that. What you can do is phase in good substitutes. For example, I used to love gummy bears. Well, if you didn’t know, gummy bears are made from pig gelatin (fat). Yeah, gross. I found a healthier version (although more expensive but you can’t really put a price on your health) that I love. http://www.annies.com/products/fruit-snacks Click <—here to explore my fave alternative.
- GET ORGANIZED- Now that you have cleaned out the digs, organize your fridge and pantry so you can see everything. I am super organized in my pantry and I know exactly where to find ingredients when I am ready to burn in the kitchen.
- FILL UP YOUR TOOLBOX- One of the best things I could do for myself was to equip my kitchen for success. I didn’t need the basics but I did need things like a juicer, stand mixer and some good storage containers. Check out these awesome containers from Target. —–> https://www.target.com/p/honey-can-do-174-bamboo-jar-storage-set-4-pc/-/A-51745908#lnk=sametab
- SET A PERSONAL GOAL- Goalsetting is an awesome way to crush your goals consistently. I love the S.M.A.R.T. goal process. It makes things simple and keeps you focused. Your food journey is yours so why not do all you can to make it happen. Here are the steps: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely. It doesn’t serve you to be vague or broad. Learn more about being SMART here——> https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm
- REDUCE YOUR TAKEOUT- One of my biggest sabotage culprits was takeout. Me and the hubby go on a date night. Ooops! They have no vegetarian or vegan options. I’ll have the Chicken Cordon Bleu for $1,000 Alex. I had to learn the hard way. If you’re gonna eat out, have a plan. Otherwise, save your self.
- STOCK UP- My success was heavily reliant on convenience. Again, if you have a plan, you have greater success. I would buy my favorite snacks and freezer items so that on a Friday night, I didn’t starve and I wasn’t tempted to eat off my plan. This is a lifestyle. I repeat this is a lifestyle and lifestyles require changes we have to be willing to make. Otherwise, it’s just a passing fad.
- COOK AT HOME- I love to cook. If you don’t, that’s ok. Many meal services offer vegan options. The Vegan Garden is a personal fave and even has customize-able plans. I spent about as much as I would normally per month for each person in my family so it seemed like a great option. Check them out——> https://thevegangarden.com/product/its-okay-to-be-different-plan/ If you do like to cook, my recipes and tutorials will be available soon. Matriarch Living on YouTube is launching in September.
- GET CREATIVE IN THE KITCHEN- Spice it up when you have time! It will surely help you stay inspired and motivated to keep going.
- PACK YOUR LUNCH- My name is Quiana and I am a lunch packer. Better yet lunch geek. I’m for anything that saves me money and time. I bring all my essentials too. I have a lunch set at work for those long days. I get to go to a quiet spot and eat rather that spending half my lunch hour looking for a place to eat then throwing it down my throat. Trust me, pack it! Even when you are running errands or taking a local road trip. You’ll thank me later.
- DRINK YOUR WATER…HYDRATE!- Self explanatory right? Seriously, drinking water curbs over eating. Living vegan doesn’t mean eating more. It means eating plants. Some people assume that if you don’t eat meat, you can eat more. Wrongo! Drinking water helps you avoid the binge eating. Water also flushes out your system so that the plants can do their job. I like to add fruit and veggies to my water as well. It helps to train your taste buds. When you get used to eating organic foods, you will be more likely to make those food choices. All in moderation.
- PULL OUT THE GOOD CHINA AND FLATWARE– I’m a sucker for pretty plates. And bowls. And spoons. You get it. Dinner for one on a gorgeous plate with food made by you is a treat. I call it inspiration. You don’t need to get fancy. Just imagine a veggie stirfry on this baby ——-> https://www.worldmarket.com/category/dining/dinnerware/dinner-plates.do?template=PLA&plfsku=457612&camp=ppc%3AGooglePLA%3Anone%3A142155926699custom3bestseller%26custom4%26custom0&product_id=457612&adpos=1o3&creative=50632136459&device=c&matchtype=&network=g&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIuO3k1bej1QIVgWd-Ch2IcwISEAYYAyABEgLIh_D_BwE
- BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF- This is going to take time. Don’t beat yourself up if you go back a few steps. Just hang on to your why and keep going. You can do this!
In closing I’d like to encourage you in whatever choice you make. In the end, you know what’s best for YOU! I wish you the best. Keep reading for more!