Advice for Going Vegan

As a personal trainer, Rich is always trying to come up with new ways to challenge his clients and keep people motivated. As a vegan, I am always trying to convince people to come over to the green side. So we joined forces and made a bet for the month of October.

Rich will go vegan for a month (except for Thanksgiving) and I will exercise 30 minutes a day for a month (except for Thanksgiving).

For every day that we don’t exercise/eat vegan, we have to add a week onto our challenge. I think I have the harder challenge since Rich only has to figure out 1 (maybe 2) meals a day and has lived with a vegan for a few years now. While I am genetically adverse to exercise.

Then I heard that a friend of mine had decided to try going vegan for a month and I was super excited for her but then I realized- it could be more difficult without a Lindsay!

I’m not saying going vegan isn’t possible or easy for some but I did try to go completely vegan a few times- and failed before finally making a full commitment.

So I was inspired to offer some advice (which I was never asked for) to help anyone thinking of trying a vegan diet or doing the Vegan October Challenge!

Number One: Be Prepared.

Stock your fridge, like big time. When I first tried going vegan I basically cut all animal products out and drank Coke instead. Not surprisingly, I failed. You are going to get pretty frustrated very quickly if you’re working or on the go and feel like you don’t have anything to eat. Going vegan should be fun and rewarding not impossible. So seriously, give yourself free reign at Whole Foods- you’re doing something great for the planet and yourself, you deserve it.

Number Two: Tell Everyone

When I finally committed to going vegan Rich didn’t want me to tell anyone because it would add alot of pressure but I needed it. When you spread the word, there’s an expectation and you’ll be more determined to meet your goal. Plus you’ll find there are many people who want to support you!

You might be surprised how supportive your friends and family will be- especially if you start making yummy vegan meals for them!

Number Three: Plan Some Meals but don’t Stress

Many people worry about protein/iron/vitamins…etc. and you should but take it easy. How many meat eaters do you know ensure they get their Vitamin B? How realistic is it for you to plan all your meals for a month? Again recipe for disaster. Here is what I would do: purchase some key products to help you get what you need, plan your dinners, and ensure you have lots of snacks.

Number Four: Be Healthy

Refer to my story about Coke. One of the best and I mean the VERY BEST things about being vegan is all the gorgeous fresh product I eat at every meal.

Number Five: Read My Blog 

Seriously.

Ok,  you’ve read my advice and are super pumped and have your reusable bags ready for Whole Foods- what should you get? Here is what I think are some key items (in no particular order):

Earth Balance/Veganaise

These are easy ways to veganize your sandwich and cooked veggies. You use them already so why not keep it simple and just replace your non-vegan versions?

Tofutti

This is probably the best vegan version of anything I’ve had. I have friends who buy it now because it tastes just like cream cheese but it lasts longer. It’s great for making dips for veggies, sandwiches, and appetizers.

Potatoes

Potatoes add a healthy ‘weight’ to a meal, meaning they’re starchy and give you that full feeling which many people fear they won’t be able to get on a vegan diet. Check out my blog and lots of others for potato recipes!

Fresh Fruit

Stock up on raspberries, mangoes, blueberries, watermelon, and anything else! There’s nothing easier than grabbing a banana or pear for a snack when you usually take yogurt or a cookie.

Strawberries still count as healthy with dark chocolate.

Nuts

Again these are great for snacks, on salads, in pastas, in wraps, and pretty much anything! Many of them are a great source of protein and iron. Peanut and almond butter count too!

Beans/Legumes

This can scare people off (I know I didn’t know what the hell I was supposed to do with a lentil) but these are really filling and a great source of protein and other good stuff. Think beans for fajitas, chickpeas for hummus or salads, or lentils for soups.

Find Your Milk!

I hear alot of people say ‘I don’t likw soy milk’ or whatever but don’t give up! There are so many options and they’re all great for different things. I like coconut milk for baking, almond milk for cereal, and soy for my coffee. I even find that the brands vary differently in taste so don’t give up after realizing you hate rice milk.

 

It might take some time to find a vegan milk you love!

Coconut Ice Cream

It’s really really…really good. Plus you’re going to crave some sweets and being vegan isn’t about depriving yourself so put some in your fridge and dive in after a long day at work discussing ‘Synergy’.

Other vegan versions

I’m not a big fan of vegan versions of non-vegan things for the most part but if you are really busy or know that you’re going to crave something on the go than grab the vegan chicken nuggets, veggie ground beef (which actually has some great nutrients in it), or yogurt. Sometimes these items are quite processed and not super healthy but if you need a vegan beef burger to get you through the month then just go for it!

Remember

This is just a few pointers to start out! If you stick with it you’ll learn a ton about food and probably about yourself! There are endless resources online and in your bookstore. Good luck and may the kale be with you!

 

Don’t worry- tequila is vegan.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Herbifit says:

    Excellent advice! I went vegan a few months ago after years as a vegetarian and thought I would really struggle but actually I have never eaten a better or more varied diet. I get really excited about cooking and investigating new ingredients, especially new grains.
    A few of my thoughts are here http://herbifit.wordpress.com/vegans-rock/
    I think veganism and training go hand-in-hand. I have never felt healthier and I think it is interesting to note that there is a higher proportion of vegan/vegetarian pro-athletes than the populatiion as a whole. They must be on to something!

    1. LindsayODonnell says:

      Thanks for sharing- great link!

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