There are several things to take into account when dramatically altering any lifestyle. As my blog tends to do, I am focusing on vegan and vegetarian diets in this segment however you can apply these guidelines to just about any diet change. These are some of the main ones and by no means a complete list. They are here to assist and inspire solely.
1. Break yourself in
The most important thing in any lifestyle is consistency. In order to achieve consistency and minimise the risk of relapsing it’s crucial to start off slowly. If you wake up Monday morning having decided to become a vegetarian and immediately cut out all meat, fish and poultry, then by Friday you’ll be pretty exhausted from overuse of will power. To make you feel better after a long hard week you might even have a sneaky strip of bacon (or as we like to call them in Ireland-rashers). You can see why this might not be the most healthy and effective way to go about the diet change.
So instead start small. Cut out red meat for the first couple weeks, then fish, then poultry (or in any other order). Likewise for vegan diets. There’s no need to go cold turkey on all of your staple foods. If research is anything to go by, this simply doesn’t work.
2. Plan of action
Some of you relish the idea of designing a beautiful, colour-coded meal plan for your new food lifestyle. If you’re anything like me and my study plans however, you’ll do that and then never look at it again.
In nutrition, planning is somewhat more important than in school. If you don’t ensure you’re getting the correct nutrients, well, let’s just say bad things can happen, kids.
This doesn’t mean you need a list of every ingredient in ever dish and its nutritional properties. It just means you need to be aware of what you’re eating. Meal plans are also great ways to make sure you don’t binge on meat in the early days of your diet change. There are plenty of great printable planners online for free such as this and this.
This is another reason why taking it slowly is good idea when starting off. Every time you remove a food group (such as red meat) from your diet, you need to replace those lost nutrients. (I’ll go into this in greater detail in a follow-up post.)
For example, red meat is high in protein. In order to retain a balanced diet we need a replacement such as beans, tofu, quorn etc. This is why slowly adapting your diet is crucial in every way to a successfully sustained lifestyle.
You might think reading this blog counts as research and you’d be right. But you can’t stop here.
The internet is overflowing with vegetarian and vegan resources. There are more blogs than I can count, more recipes than Pinterest can hold (though it tries) and more motivational posts than anyone wants to see. You’ve got no excuse for not thoroughly investigating the lives and lifestyles of vegans and vegetarians. So go ahead. Be a stalker.
There are endless proverbs I considered using to start this paragraph but then I thought, ‘Kate, nobody wants to hear you spout ridiculous cliches.’
It’s true money makes the world go ’round (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) and that’s why it’s always an important factor when making an action plan.
How much money can you afford to spend on a weekly food shop? Where can you get the best value for money? Shopping around allows you to decide where you can acquire the cheapest produce. Make sure you always write a list to help you stay on track and don’t over-shop. Keeping a record of all receipts is also helpful for some people.
If you have any suggestions, requests or questions please let me know in the comments. Thanks so much for reading!