Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet
I've been wanting to write this blog post for a few weeks now, but it felt like such a task to go over the last 7 weeks and put everything down in writing, hence why I ended up posting absolutely nothing. Story of my life.
I just really wanted to write down my personal experience of the first few weeks of going plant based. I decided I'll write a different blog post about all the reasons why I decided to finally make the move and how I got there, as well as all the resources that helped me learn more about this lifestyle.
So let's start! I decided to go plant based almost 2 months ago now - feels weird writing it down, I didn't realise it had been that long! A few things pushed me over the edge (I was a vegetarian for a year prior to that..), at the time I was ill with another random (minor) infection, and felt tired and sluggish, that week I got my hands on the 'What the Health' movie and that was truly the tipping point. I couldn't ignore all the facts and science behind going vegan. It was just way too obvious and I had nothing to loose (again I'll cover more of that in another post!)
Overall I found the transition to be quite easy. I think being veggie made it all much easier. I had the task cut by half, having to 'only' give up dairy and eggs. It felt quite daunting at the beginning, learning how to read labels and avoiding what had become 'staples', replacing them with all sorts of alternatives, I think that was the biggest headache at the beginning.
But I tried to focus on whole plant based foods, rather than going for processed products. I've only started experimenting with fake meats, nut cheeses and tofu in the past couple of weeks (will have to update you on that in a little while, once I've found my marks!)
One of the best advice I got was to focus on a handful of recipes at first. Find 5 recipes you love, that you can make easily. Once you've got those 5 base recipes, use them as your got to's - when it's Monday night and you have no idea what to have for dinner for example..
From those 'base recipes' you adapt and tweak them and make them slightly different week after week so it's never boring! You also learn new recipes along the way and before you realise it you've got a whole array of go to week night dinners, packed lunches and easy breakfasts.
Here are a few of my go to meals :
- Marinated Portobello mushrooms (in tamari, liquid smoke, paprika, chilli powder..) with sweet potato mash and a kale salad or roasted mushrooms on and in everything, salads, on top of sourdough..
Roasted cauliflower tossed in cumin, turmeric, garlic and lemon juice - I could eat this by the bucket full at every meal.
Generally roasted veggies with a type of grain is our go to dinner, just because it's so easy to throw together and prepare in advance as well. I try and roast a batch of veggies and keep some leftovers for lunches.
Another go to is veggie chilli/vegetable curry/dahl - so easy to make a huge batch of and keeps well in the freezer as well. One night for example we'll have veggie chilli, the next night we turn it into veggie tacos and then I'll have some leftover chilli with rice for some lunches.. Delicious and saves you so much time!
Lunch example : roasted veggies, couscous, cucumber. Takes under 2 min to make if you've prepped your grain/veggies beforehand!
At the beginning I felt quite lost when eating out, but generally there's always a way. More and more places have vegan options, and if they don't they always have a veggie option that is easily veganised.
Pizza has actually been a revelation, I used to feel so bad after eating it, and I always blamed it on the dough/gluten, but turns out it was most likely the cheese/meat combo... anyway, it's so delicious with no cheese, I just ask for a bunch of toppings and I love it!
As a rule of thumb, if you're somewhere that doesn't have many vegan options, order all the sides! If you're going to an event or somewhere where you're completely unsure, eat beforehand and fill your purse with some snacks. Simple as that ;)
Breakfast has always been my favourite, but I never really took the time to make anything. Now I make it my number one priority in the morning, I make sure to not leave the house without having eaten something substantial. My go-to is obviously rawnola (I add banana in mine and chia seeds too!) with fresh fruits - if you follow me on Instagram, you know that already ;)
I also try and have a green smoothie most mornings, I use banana as my base, mango if they're around, if not frozen berries, spinach, coconut water, and some superfood powders like spirulina/wheat grass powder, I'll add some hemp seeds in there too. Smoothies are so delicious and an amazing way to pack in a ton of nutrition, especially your greens!
Being half French, and growing up eating cheese, I thought I would have a much harder time giving it up - but surprisingly, I haven't missed it at all. Well that's not true.. I did in the first week or so, because after being vegetarian for a year, I found myself relying way too much on cheese as a lunch staple.
So I had to shift my habits, but it only takes about a week or so to find new favourite go to meals and cheese quickly becomes a distant memory. I saw it as overcoming an addiction in a way (which it truly is! Research has found casein - the protein in milk - to have similar effects on your brain has heroine..!! which makes so much sense, it's terrifying)
So I found new favourite ingredients for my lunches and felt so satisfied that I didn't need dairy. Also once you make the connection and learn about the horror that is the dairy industry and how it affects your body in exactly the same way as meat does, there's no turning back. (this video was a game changer)
In terms of overall effects on my body.. I have a whole list and I'm still adding to it - I won't go into too many details yet as it's only been 7 weeks.. but first and foremost : my new found energy. My energy levels have gone way up and are staying up. My energy used to yo yo throughout the day. I'd wake up tired, eat and feel better for a few hours, then dip again feel tired and hangry, eat again, then feel tired and ready for a nap, etc..
Now I wake up before my alarm, I feel more 'awake' generally throughout the day.. My energy levels are more constant, no more huge dips. Of course if I go without food for too long I still get hangry (I'm not a very nice person when I'm hungry haha) but I make sure not to let that happen. Generally I don't feel sluggish anymore, and no more of that "I-need-to-pass-out" kinda feeling after eating a meal. I feel great!
I've seen a huge change in my skin - I've never had really bad skin anyway, but I'd get a few pimples here and there, especially around that time of the month. Since eating plant based I've had no pimples, my skin feels so much softer and with no exaggeration, kind of glows..?! Oh and my hair has definitely been growing faster and is a lot shinier and healthier looking - without doing very much to it!
Edit : One thing that someone pointed out in the comments is that I haven't mentioned supplements at all - and if there's one thing you should be mindful of is your vitamin B12 (even as a meat eater!) - I just take my vitamin B12 in drops under the tongue every morning, you can also find patches, or a pill that you take once every other week.. there's loads of way to supplement it easily!
My digestion has improved x100000, I feel light and happy, my PMS symptoms have decreased by miles, it's amazing really. Anyway, I could probably go on forever, because there are so many benefits to this lifestyle, it's not just about your physical appearance, it's more about your overall health, but also great for the planet, and the animals. Making that connection, I believe has just started to change my life for the better.
I can't wait to continue on this plant journey and share more with you! I want to share recipes, tips, restaurants.. I hope this is slightly helpful. Would love to know if you have any questions - if you do make sure to pop them down below in the comments and I'll respond to everything, you can also always DM me on Insta! I love to have a chat :)