Welcome! So you have made the decision to go vegan or plant-based and need some help on how to get started. First, let me say that you are awesome. THANK YOU!
I am more than happy to help jumpstart your transition! I got you.
I feel you + applaud you
I empathize that this is a big change for some of you because beyond food, this shift also means social, cultural, and emotional change as we live in cultures where animal-based foods and products like clothing, makeup, and furniture are not only the norm, these foods and products are also tied to identity and tradition.
You are daring to break out of social norms and programming and live more in alignment with your beliefs and values, so bravo to you!
That time I thought I could never be vegan and was so wrong
I am the only vegan on both sides of my huge Filipino family. There was also a time when I never thought I could go vegan. I believed I could never let go of my favorite Filipino foods like adobo, lumpia, and Pinakbet, and thankfully I was wrong.
Before I went vegan in 2018, I had never met, seen or knew of the existence of any vegan Filipinos. I have one cousin who is married to a vegetarian and another cousin who is pescatarian, and that's about it in my large family.
My transition actually took about 7 years in the making. Going vegan was one of the best decisions I've ever made! No FOMO here.
Here you will always have support and encouragement. My experience with vegans is that they are highly supportive and happy to help anyone who is new to veganism or going plant-based.
Ok, let's get you started. Here are some easy, immediate, doable actions you can do to get started with some resources and tools to help you.
Create a transition plan
One of the things that differentiates my view on becoming vegan or plant-based from other typical advice is that I recommend a transition plan that goes from about 6 months to a year where you gradually eliminate animal-based foods.
I know this seems like a LONG TIME. But really, it will go by fast and it will help prepare you physically, emotionally, and socially for long term success where the process feels more at ease versus a cold turkey type no pain, no gain approach.
Here's the top 2 reasons why I support a long transition time:
Your gut microbiome needs to time to adjust. The microbiome in a vegan and plant-based gut is significantly different than the gut microbiome that's used to animal-based foods and drinks.
A common issue new vegan and plant-based eaters have is consuming too much fiber too soon. Your microbiome isn't adjusted for fast change like that so problems can happen like gas (farting), bloating, and upset tummy.
One of the best on gut microbiome and plant-based eating is Dr. Will Bulsiewicz aka Dr. B. "The Gut Health MD" on Instagram. Do follow him. His IG is packed with great information. Here's a podcast to start getting you familiar with Dr. B - "A fiber fueled microbiome."
Our subconscious tends to not like fast drastic change leaping out of the comfort zone, and unleashes the inner resistance monster to reel us back into the old habits.
On top of that, there is the fact that the meat eaters around you can vary from being supportive to sabotaging depending on how they react to you making a big change like this. You're changing the status quo so resistance is going to happen.
When there's a longer, slower transition process, change happens under the radar with less stress and opposition.
I have nothing against going the cold turkey route. If you do better with a fully all in, fast and furious style, BRAVO, go for it! I support you too.
The important thing is you're transitioning away from the animal-based consumption to plant-based, vegan consumption, and that's all that really matters here. So kudos!
Taylor your transition plan to fit your needs and goals. Some suggestions:
Cut out one animal at a time. A good place to start is eliminating beef since it has the highest emissions and water footprint. I started with eliminating chicken. I saw the documentary Food Inc and it did something to my subconscious to where I woke up two days later and all desire for chicken was gone.
Do Meatless Mondays. Start doing 1-day a week eating plant-based. Then when that feels solid, do 2-days a week, and so on until you get to 7 days a week.
Do a Mark Bittman style "Eat Vegan Before 6pm," which is basically eat plant-based for breakfast, lunch and a snack, and dinner is anything goes.
Switch from cow or goat milk to plant-based milks like oat, almond, soy, coconut, pea (Ripple), rice, macadamia, hemp.
For plant-based butter, cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, coffee creamer, and ice cream there is a vast variety of choices.
There is no rush in transitioning. As I mentioned before, personally it took me a long while to shift. I started out thinking I could never be vegan which I'm so glad I proved myself wrong.
Take the time you and your body need so you can achieve long term success.
Yes, there's an app for that...available for both iPhone and Android. Happy Cow mobile is a great on-the-go resource kind of like a Yelp of veganism to find plant-based and vegan food restaurants in the U.S. and in 180+ countries.
You can also use the Happy Cow website on a laptop or desktop to search for restaurants.
Recipes and meal ideas
The best place to get plant-based and vegan recipes and meal ideas is Pinterest. If you do not have a Pinterest account, please start one now. It's totally free.
Among its strengths, Pinterest is like a huge search engine for anything and everything food related. Most importantly, you can create boards and save all the recipes and meal ideas you find which can also help you with meal planning and meal prepping.
All the top vegan blogs and sites post on Pinterest so you can follow their accounts and favorite their pins in your curated boards.
To help you get started on Pinterest, please follow my Pinterest where you can see the boards I've created and get some inspiration for your own boards.
Sites to buy vegan and plant-based foods online
There are a number of online stores you can buy some awesome vegan and plant-based foods from the ease of your phone, tablet, or computer.
GTFO It's Vegan - online retailer, wholesaler, and distributor of curated vegan foods.
VEDGEco - like a Costco of vegan foods where you can buy in bulk and wholesale.
Vegan Essentials - the longest-operating cruelty-free retailer in the US.
Thrive Market - this online store isn't entirely vegan but their selection is vast.
Of course Amazon sells many vegan foods and products. Here I like to primarily help promote businesses that have consciously chosen to be a vegan business or a B-Corp.
Media sites to follow
These sites are all plant-based and are a great source of what's new and happening with products, trends, news, recipes/meals, and articles about plant-based and vegan living, so please follow them all on social platforms and subscribe to their newsletter.
Watch Vegan and Sustainability movies
Veg Movies is like a free Netflix directory of movies and documentaries focused on veganism - food, activism, animal rights and justice, environment, and health.
WaterBear is also like a free Netflix directory of documentaries and short films dedicated to the future of our planet.