_ Tips on Being Plant Based
Hello little/big blogging world! I’m so bad at keeping up with this blog in the summers. I was speaking with a dear friend of mine the other day who works at NOC with me. We haven’t seen each other in a month, even though we work 100 yards from each other. We were talking about how nice it is that most of our friends work seasonal jobs, so no one gets upset when we simply disappear for 3 months every year. Its nice out, my work is busy, and when I’m not working, I want to be outside, not on my computer.
My brother is considering trying to be plant based again, so I wanted to write him a little tip list. I’ll share it with you guys, since who knows who may benefit from it! I also have 3 recipes WRITTEN already on my computer, so be on the look out for those!
1) Remember all the food groups, not just protein. When I was first becoming a vegetarian, I focused so much on making sure I was getting enough protein, I totally never realized that with the absence of meat, my diet was also lacking in fat as well. Animal protein comes with a good amount of fats. And while its good to cut most of those out of your diet, you do need fat still and especially certain kinds (those omega 3’s!). Nuts, seeds, and avocados are great sources of healthy, plant based fat that your body will use for shiny and strong hair and nails, energy, etc.
2) Know when to accept advice, but also when to say no. A lot of people will be excited for you when you decide to try a plant based diet. And everyone who has ever eaten a salad will suddenly feel the need to give you endless amounts of advice. Its good to ask for help. When you don’t know how to incorporate more protein into your breakfast routine, have the humility to ask another vegan. But when people are telling you what to eat for every meal, its also ok to tell them to go away, politely.
3) Be ready for spontaneous confessions and ridiculous questions. For some reason, when people find out you are plant based, they will feel the need to start telling you what they eat and how horrible their diet is. I’m not sure why this is, but just listen patiently. On the flipside, people will also ask ridiculous questions. One lady asked me if I still ate fruit!
4) Refrain from judging. Once you become plant based and have a good handle on your diet, you will feel great. You will also feel great about your choices. This can lead to becoming extremely judgmental. You will start to wonder why no one else is following your lead because your life is so much better as a result. I have a friend who will literally rip yogurts out of other people’s hands and read all the bad ingredients in them. No one likes this person. You are not making a good case for being plant based, or impressing anyone. I try to remember that 6 years ago I thought eating yogurt with sugar and oil-laden granola was the healthiest I could be, and that getting sweet potato fries with my bacon hamburger was close to being vegetarian. Remember where you came from and how you got to where you are now. Chances are, it wasn’t by anyone preaching to you.
5) Keep your whole identity. Its easy to love your new lifestyle so much that it becomes all you can talk about. But realize that the way you eat is just a part of the awesome person that you are. You are also a world class kazoo player, or a giraffe expert, or closet line dancing champion. Stay unique. Stay you. Just be you 2.0.
6) Go slowly. Everything about being a vegan revolves around making the diet/lifestyle sustainable. Being a zealot for the rules will make it hard for you to be plant based for long. You will wind up falling off the wagon and hating yourself. So start slow, and build up to being fully plant based. Also have grace with yourself. If you slip up and eat a cheese pizza, move on.
7) Be realistic. You won’t be able to eat a fully organic spinach salad with a nut based dressing, sprouted, non-gmo tofu, and brown rice for every meal. You will go to Thanksgivings in Mississippi with your in laws where the only vegan thing is peanut butter, bananas, and corn chips. You will eat green beans at said Thanksgiving even though they have butter, because you are not just a vegan, you are a living being who needs food. You have a better chance of being a life long vegan if you are realistic about life.
8) Surround yourself with support. For me, living in the deep-south as a scrawny vegan is really hard sometimes. I have a few friends I hang out with regularly who are also vegan. I also have an extensive online community. I read vegan blogs, follow other vegans on instagram, and surround myself with other plant-based eaters. These people encourage me to continue with my lifestyle choices amid the land of carnivores.
These are just a few ideas I’ve had over the last few months on being a successful plant-based eater. A lot of them are mistakes I’ve made, and I hope that you will find them helpful!
I’m also building muscle. And paddling a lot. Which is really, really awesome.