My Top Nine Tips on Going Veg’

by Ashley on June 20, 2013

Good morning friends! Almost Friday! Wahoo!
A lot of people tell me that they don’t even know where to start when it comes to going vegetarian or simply reducing the amount of animal protein they consume each day. “What does your plate look like if there isn’t chicken, or something like that, taking up a quarter of it?” “Where do you get your protein?” “What do you even eat?”
In today’s post I hope to answer those questions.
Since so many people ask me (with a strange look on their face), “So…what do you eat?,” we will start there.
To me, my diet (referring to the food I consume) is pretty delicious. I am 95% vegan and wrote about why I went vegan about three years ago here. I don’t have cravings for other types of unhealthy foods (which were definitely present when I didn’t eat this way, like candy, cake, etc.) or any kinds of meat and I don’t ever feel deprived or like I’m not getting enough. I eat: fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, beans/legumes and Greek yogurt (I’ve talked about that here). With the exception of B12, I get every nutrient that I need from food, so I use Nutritional Yeast and take a multi to make sure that I do, easy fix.
(Yes, that is a prenatal multivitamin but no I am not taking it because we are trying to get pregnant. I take it because I am of reproductive age and want to ensure that I am not missing a single nutrient at this time in my life, i.e. folate.)
A typical day for me looks like this:

Some people might like at that and say ,”wow, that’s a lot of food,” but I also am extremely active and do some form of activity/exercise/yoga everyday. I don’t let my body get “starving” because I know exactly what will happen.

Below I’ve outlined my top tips on goin’ veggie, in case you are one of the ones questioning either how in the world could you go vegetarian/vegan or even if you want to consume less meat.

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Top Nine Tips on Goin’ Veg

  1. Don’t give it all up at once. Go slow. For me, it was a long process. I gave up red meat first. A few months went by, I listened to my body, and then gave up chicken and turkey. Next was fish, with the exception of wild caught salmon. And then once I was prepared, I gave up that too. Eggs were the last thing I gave up and I did this by educating myself of the farmed chicken industry. I was in no hurry, just listening to my body and knowing when I was ready. (And just to note, I am lactose intolerant so I stopped consuming dairy (with the exception of Greek yogurt) years before I had any idea I would one day be vegan.)
  2. Don’s skip on your favorites. If you love Mexican night with your girlfriends, don’t skip on this because “you’re no longer eating chicken quesidillas.” Order veggie quesidillas, veggie fajitas, veggie tacos, etc. Don’t deprive yourself of your favorite foods or you will never last. Just make vegetarian/vegan versions of them.
  3. Explore recipes. Just as when you were/are a carnivore, food can get boring unless your exploring new meals. Use Pintrest, websites, or buy a vegetarian/vegan cookbook to keep things fun and delicious in the kitchen. Not only that but you will learn about new foods and seasonings.
  4. Keep staples on hand. Oats, rice, quinoa, frozen fruit, frozen veggies, beans (canned or go ahead and soak dried beans and then freeze them for quick use), nuts and nut butters, etc. This way if you find yourself needing to make a quick meal, you can.
  5. Keep healthy snacks on hand. Don’t let yourself get hungry. This goes for carnivores and herbivores. We all make unhealthy choices when we let ourselves get hungry – and if chicken fingers happen to be the only thing around when you are hungry, chances are you’re eating them. One of my favorites are these roasted chickpeas. 
  6. Increase your water intake. A vegetarian/vegan diet tends to be much higher in fiber than a animal based diet because of the high amount of fiber in fresh fruits and vegetables compared to animal protein which doesn’t contain fiber. With this increase in fiber, more water is needed to keep your GI system moving properly.
  7. Don’t choose vegetarian junk. French fries are vegetarian. So are potato chips. I’d rather you have a small amount of organic chicken than vegetarian junk. Remember, keep healthy snacks on hand, not junk.
  8. Think outside of the box. So you’re used to a meat and two (or at least if you’re from the south you are!). Erase that from your mind. Your plate is whatever you want it to be. For me, sometimes it’s a side salad and two sides or other times four sides. Side dishes are your new heroes. Grain + beans + veggie + fruit – a well balanced meal!
  9. And lastly, know why you are choosing to eat this way and be confident about it. Is it because of health reasons? Is it for preventive reasons? Is it because of animal reasons? Or do you even know why you want to consume less or no meat? If you don’t know this answer, the second someone orders a cheeseburger at lunch, you’ll be saying, “Make that two!”

**And just to note, unless you are a strict vegan, you absolutely CAN get all of the nutrients you need by eating a well-balanced, healthy vegetarian diet so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you want to make sure, check out this nutrient table that I made to help guide you or consult with a registered dietitian.

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Where ever you might be when it comes to animal consumption, I want to point out that everyone is different. What works for you might not work for me or vise versa. But I also challenge you to always think outside of the box. Don’t just do something “because that’s how you’ve always done it.” Challenge yourself. Question yourself. Ask questions. And never settle. By doing these things you will begin to listen to your body and not your “old habits,” which is crucial when it comes to staying healthy.
I hope you have an awesome Thursday!
Good health!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachelle June 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Love this post as it is very helpful and a real life example people can look up to! Thank you!

Will be sharing this with others. I am currently cutting down on meat consumption, but not at this time, able to go all the way.

Reply

Ashley June 21, 2013 at 8:25 am

Thank you Rachelle! Thanks for stopping by! That’s awesome to hear – as always, listen to your body!

Reply

Roch June 25, 2013 at 1:25 am

These are great tips. I’m a vegetarian myself, since childhood and people always question almost the same through the years, until I launched a blog especially for that – to answers their queries. Sharing you this: http://whybevegetarian.blogspot.com/

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