This article was originally published on Life of a Vegan Chef
I don’t know about you, but when I transitioned to veganism, I was static. I was so excited to become a vegan.
Little that I know it was the beginning of a journey filled with roadblocks and naivety. Yes, I have succeeded in becoming 100% plant-based, however, knowing what I know now would make anyone’s journey to veganism so much easier.
Veganism is awesome. As you become familiar with a plant-based diet, you’ll realize that you feel lighter, fitter and ultimately healthier.
However, don’t take my word for it. There are plenty of studies that have shown the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Before you jump into a plant-based lifestyle a few words of caution:
All the advice you’ll get on my blog is based on my own experience and are in good faith. Everyone reacts differently to dietary changes. That said, I am just a chef, yet I am not a doctor nor a registered dietitian. Before you do any dietary changes, you might want to consult with your doctor.
Let’s dive in:
I know how exciting it is to become a vegan and to tell everyone about it only to jump ship because one wasn’t prepared.
This is when your “Why” to become a vegan plays the most critical role in your success in becoming a vegan.
Let me explain:
Your goal obviously is to become a vegan. Achieving this goal depends solely on your determination. I know one might say it's common sense. However, your determination depends on how serious you take this goal.
If the life of your family depends on your success, wouldn’t you think you’ll reach that goal in no time, right? What if the well being of the entire world depends on your decision. I know what you are thinking, he’s gone crazy now!
Hold your horses...
Here is why: The only way to feed the projected 8.5 billion people by 2030 or 10 billion by 2050 is through a plant-based diet. We cannot continue to raise cattle and other livestock at the expense of the planet. As it is livestock alone is creating more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation industry combined. (yes all cars, trains, planes, ships, etc.) Just some food for thought.
Your friends and family can be your best friends (supporters) or your worst enemies. Don’t wait to tell them the last minute of your “idea” going vegan. Veganism is a lifestyle that you choose, not them. That lifestyle requires a lot of adjustments even for your family, and it’s not fair for them to adjust suddenly. Talk to them and find some common ground, but don’t let them talk you out of it. Remember veganism is awesome for those who experience it.
There will be plenty of arguments with family members and even friends. For instance when having a family BBQ or outing. Many non-vegans are not familiar with the plant-based food. In that case, offer to bring your own food. You will be amazed how suddenly everyone is interested in your plant-based lifestyle.
So my “why” is a combination of a few points that are important to me. Your "why" might be very different that of mine, yet your success depends on why you are becoming a vegan in the first place.
Here are the reasons I became a vegan:
Before I get to it, you'll realize that all these reasons tie into each other, therefore, if you go vegan for one reason you are automatically supporting all others, too.
There is plenty of evidence that a plant-based diet is healthy. Don't take my word for it. Check out Dr. Michael Gregger's Nutritionfacts. The 15 major diseases in this country are mostly caused by the food we eat. That alone is enough reason for me to transition to a plant-based lifestyle.
“The most ethical diet just so happens to be the most environmentally sound diet and just so happens to be the healthiest.”
We are all responsible for mother earth! Yes you, me and everyone else. By eating animal products on a daily basis, you are part of a group of people that disregard that fact that our earth's health is declining rapidly. That's why I want to do my part and eat plant-based food.
As a chef, I believe I have a responsibility to educate my community about a healthy diet. They come to me for a good meal. So why not offering them a meal that is healthy and also good for our environment. We as chefs have a natural audience, which is our guests. Educating them is my top priority.
Don't get me started how we treat our animals. Yes, we have made progress with farmers who have stepped up and provide a humane approach to raising animals. However, the point is that a very large percentage of animal farming is still very cruel. Animal farming is not what it was 100 years ago. Today most of these animals are fed a crop that has been genetically engineered.
Even as a vegan we must be mindful where we get our food from. Unfortunately, most agriculture is not sustainable at all. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizer degrading our soil. Mono seeds such as genetically engineered corn are unsustainable and unethical.
Take a day and visit your nearest farm and ask about the erosion prevention techniques as well as nutrient management methods used. Does the farmer minimize soil erosion by avoiding excessive tillage (plowing), or by using no-till techniques? Does he or she use organic fertilizers instead of synthetic fertilizers?
Conventional farming practices that degrade soil health undermine humanity’s ability to continue feeding everyone over the long run. Regenerative practices show that we can readily improve soil fertility, which is used in the very popular "Farm to Table" concept across the US states.
This is where organic agriculture comes into play. By using natural fertilizer we are taking care of our soil, our seeds and our environment.
Let’s not forget veganism is the only sustainable way to feed the entire world without creating the carbon footprint that the current food system is generating. By becoming a vegan you are not only doing yourself a favor, but you are being responsible and doing well for our planet.
So I think these are enough reasons and hopefully strengthen your "why" of becoming a vegan.
Once your why is in place, you can start planning the next steps in your vegan journey. As I mentioned earlier, it is crucial to discuss going vegan with your family and friends.
Next is planning your days. Your meal plan for the next few days should be planned out. There is nothing worse than to come home from a busy day and have nothing prepared. Ughh- I am hungry and what can I eat???
Believe me, I have been there. In no time will you go back to your old habits of eating animal products. To avoid that, simply plan your meals in advance, buy your groceries ahead of time and maybe even cook the day before.
Join the next Eat Like a Vegan Chef challenge to see for yourself what a whole food plant-based lifestyle can do for you.