Actor and director Kevin Smith had a widow-maker heart attack. He was lucky to survive. After his brush with death, his daughter begged him to switch to a vegan diet for the sake of his health. Now three years later, he reports that doctors can barely find where the heart attack happened using imaging technology — his heart healed almost completely.
Health is a major reason why people seek vegan and vegetarian diets. However, transitioning is often hard. There is a learning curve and many who attempt to go vegan end up giving up on the diet within the first year. Here are a couple of tips on how you can make your transition smoother and improve the odds that your new diet will survive the test of time.
Veganism, of course, is more than just a diet. It’s a cruelty-free lifestyle. This article, however, will be focusing on the dietary part of the equation.
Get your motives in order
First and foremost, any drastic life change should be well motivated. Make sure you know exactly why you are trying to become a vegan and what you are trying to achieve. Be your ethical, religions, or simply health-oriented – make them clear. Writing about them helps. It also helps to read arguments for and against going vegan, join discussions online.
Building a proper mental map of your goals and motivations will greatly increase your chances of success. Plus, maybe you’ll find you don’t actually need to be a vegan. Maybe being an ovo-lacto vegetarian fulfills your needs.
Research and get involved
You want to research the health benefits and potential pitfalls, yes. But it also pays to look into interviews, podcasts, forum posts. See anecdotal evidence from other people who have tried the diet; people who have succeeded or failed at maintaining it.
Scientific studies are great, but firsthand accounts may give you priceless practical advice. Making friends and following influencers in the vegan community will also help you stay focused, motivated, and well-informed.
Start transitioning slowly
The most realistic way to become a vegan is to start it slow. You can start by adding items to your diet, instead of removing them. Meaning that you continue with your normal food habits, but start exploring with vegan meals from time to time. Learn some recipes, where to buy the ingredients, how to store and prepare them.
Then identify what you need to remove from your diet and start working on removing the items on that list. The foods you know you’ll miss and crave the most are often called “barrier foods”. Pay extra attention to how you are going to handle removing or replacing them. A good strategy will get you a long way.
Vegan health traps
Just because a food item advertises itself as vegan, it does not mean that it is healthy. Vegan burgers, cookies, hotdogs, and pizzas can all contain as much processed food and saturated fats as their meat-based counterparts. You can, of course, eat them from time to time. Just don’t let the vegan label make you forget moderation.
Manage the urges
Your food urges are not merely psychological. As it turns out, there is evidence that the bacteria in your digestive system – which are crucial for the digestive process – grow accustomed to items in your diet and are partly responsible for the strong cravings you feel when you try to stop eating something.
The solution, then, is to manage your urges until they are gone. Avoid giving in, as every time you do, you reinforce those urges, making them harder to eliminate.
Luckily, other healthy life habits that pair well with veganism are also known to help you deal with food cravings. Those habits include meditating, regular exercising, and using CBD oil. For the latter, make sure you get your CBD from a certified source.