It’s all fine and good to understand the facts and read the numbers, but the truth is that food is so closely intertwined with our culture, childhood, and everyday lives, that making big changes like going vegan can be quite frankly, traumatic for some people.
If you were inspired by anything we’ve discussed in the past couple of weeks, but are still hesitating to get started, then this post is for you. This week, we’re talking about how to make small, manageable changes to your diet and routine that will have a lasting impact. Remember that however small, one person, one step at a time can make a difference.
Do I have to give up everything all at once?
For health reasons alone, avoiding dairy and meat products seems like a fairly straightforward recommendation. Now that you’ve learned about the environmental impacts, you may be more willing than ever to give it a try. However, we recognize that for many individuals, it may be a very huge and important step to simply cut back on the quantity they are consuming, and so that should be the goal.
Here are some ideas for how to reduce the quantity of animal proteins and dairy in your diet:
1. Experiment with plant-based milks, all widely available in grocery stores. Almond, cashew, coconut, flax, and oat are all delicious stand-ins for dairy in smoothies, hot cereals, and baked goods. Look for unsweetened varieties, as some brands add far too much sugar than is healthful. For the least environmental impact, make your own plant-based milks at home.
2. Resolve to only eat animal proteins at ONE meal of your day. If you eat eggs for breakfast, skip the deli meat at lunch and the steak at dinner - you get the idea.
3. If you've already cut back on animal products to just once per day, try enjoying animal products just 4-5 times per week, then 2-3 times per week. From there, you might find that you no longer crave and rely on these foods like you once did, and foods like dairy and meat may become a very rare part of your diet, rather than habits.
4. Experiment with different grains (gluten-free if needed), vegetables, and seasonings. Transitioning to a plant-based diet should be looked upon as a positive step, in which you get to try many new foods and enjoy an array of health benefits. This is not about simply cutting out the foods you once loved and leaving you with a plate of steamed broccoli in their place.
Here are some of the resources that inspire me towards living a 100% plant-based lifestyle:
The Plantrician Project
The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell
Forks Over Knives
Earthlings (Warning: upsetting material)
What small changes are you planning to make? Let us know in the comments!