If you have been following my blog, you know that I cut out meat a few months ago. Remember my last blog post on over thinking. This decision was a prime example of not over thinking.
Many have asked me how did I cut out meat. Let’s just say that I woke up one day and decided that I was not eating it anymore. After the decision, I began conducting research and putting what I learn into action and the rest was history. Over 4 months later and I am still researching.
There is so much confusion about the labeling but I will say that I am plant-based because I cut out meat to better my health. Let’s be real, I am not getting any younger. I eat 90% vegan and 10% vegetarian.
While conducting research on vegan, I did learn that you can get vitamin deficiencies and gain weight from adding a lot of carbs, meat substitutes, and high-fat food (pasta, bread, nuts, grains, oils, etc.).
So, it’s important to make sure you learn what foods give you the most of what you need and to make sure to not overload on things that can cause weight gain or any other health issues.
Protein & B12 are two of the major concerns when it comes to eating vegan. You have to make sure that you are getting these in. Protein really is not that hard when you learn what foods are high in it but you may have to supplement B12.
I found out about nutritional yeast and I try to sprinkle it on almost everything lol as it is a way to supplement B12. I will say that they are easier to obtain when you are doing a vegetarian diet because of the dairy.
I can remember the first weekend I began this journey. My husband cooked rotel with ground turkey. It smelled so good but I stood my ground and ate a mushroom lettuce wrap. It wasn’t rotel but it had its own unique taste.
I later learned that I could have made vegan rotel with meat alternatives & vegan cheese. Or I could have made some vegetarian style with regular cheese and alternated the meat. So, you really are not that limited. You just have to retrain how you previously did things.
That was a defining moment for me though. After that, I was like I can do this. So I took it one day at a time. I start creating meals without meat. I don’t really eat much of the meat substitutes because they are sometimes loaded with sodium. I would say in moderation is the way to go with them.
You would think that the biggest struggle is cutting out meat but it is not. While researching, I learn that so many foods are cooked in some type of animal products. For e.g marshmallows have gelatin in them. Gelatin comes from bones, skins, & etc. from animals. I was like What???
I was at the grocery store one day looking at cornbread. I saw vegetarian Jiffy. It made me wonder what is in the regular Jiffy cornbread. Come to find out, it has pork fat in it. The list goes on and on.
I was in the store one day and I heard a lady talking about vegan wine. I am thinking to myself what??? If there are vegan wines, there must be something in the other wines. So, I looked it up. Yes, wines can have some type of animal products in them by how they are processed.
When I tell you that it is a learning process, it is. The overall benefits of it are AMAZING. I feel better and lighter. So what do I eat? A lot lol. Last year my husband cooked most of the dishes for Thanksgiving. They were soul food. The holidays are really the only time we eat soul food. No pork though.
My family already know that I was going to try to make the dishes vegetarian/vegan and they were not ready for that at the time lol but my husband did make vegetarian/vegan style soul food dishes for me without me asking. It was yummy and I was satisfied.
If you are reading this and love you some soul food. You don’t have to stop eating it. You can adjust it to fit this lifestyle without missing out on the favor.
Let’s get to the tips. Here is a list of things that have been helpful to me to get started on this journey.
1. Meal planning- I can’t stress this enough. Especially in the beginning. I would prepare for 3 days. It can be overwhelming in the beginning. I picked simple meals and focus on the seasonings. Utilize Pinterest. Type in vegetarian or vegan in the search bar.
2. Understand your why- This probably should have been number one. When you are trying something different, it is necessary to acknowledge your why and understand it. There will be moments when you will have to remind yourself of this until you get in your groove. My why is for health purposes.
3. Expand your knowledge of seasonings- Experiment, experiment, experiment. Try new seasonings. Sometimes we don’t like veggies because they may taste bland but when you dress them up with some seasonings, you bring your taste buds to life.
For e.g. one of my favorite ways to dress up portobello mushrooms is with A1 Steak sauce (it’s vegan too). I cut them up like steak and seasoned them and sautéed them in the steak sauce. I add my favorite side of kale greens with turmeric riced cauliflower. A bonus is to sprinkle some Chia seeds on it since it is loaded with omega fatty acids and protein. Yummy.
4. Research your favorite restaurant’s menu- You will be surprised at how you can customize items into vegetarians/vegans meals. I will say some restaurants have some limited choices but don’t worry because this is when you will step outside of your comfort zone and research new restaurants that have more choices for you.
5. Join vegan/vegetarian facebook groups. This will help you with support if you are doing it alone and if you find negativity in one, removed yourself. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Follow others on this journey on your social media accounts. This can be a way to use social media for positive.
6. When in the grocery store, go down the vegetable aisle and create some stuff. Look at vegetables you never would have look at before and try them out. I often create meals in my head at the grocery store. For the most part, they taste good. At first, I didn’t know if he was because my taste buds have been retrained or what lol. So, now I make them and let my family eat it too. I usually get a thumbs up and they want it again.
7. Start familiarizing yourself with protein in all type of foods but don’t freak out about it. As you moved along your journey, it will come easy. I grew up on pinto beans, green beans, and great northern beans. I want to say Lima beans also. Not sure. I didn’t have a clue about black beans until I move to Texas. Look up their benefits.
Let’s just say, black bean is a staple in our house. Black-eyed peas, green peas, chickpeas or garbanzo beans, lentil, Edamame, Chia seeds, hemp seeds, oatmeal, almonds, tempeh, quinoa, etc.
Some people eat tofu for protein. Do your research though? The list goes on and on. I even found a plant-based protein powder at Marshall’s that I put in my smoothies. There are so many foods that I have never heard of. Trust me, you will not get bored with your food.
8. Meat substitutes -I am not a big fan of meat substitutes such as faux meats. I will eat them here and there but I have noticed that these have been helpful to a lot of people who are cutting out meat. I do understand that everyone’s journey is different. I would say to do it in moderation as some of them are still processed foods with soy and high in sodium.
9. Look into other cultures’ meals. There are a lot of meatless meals with captivating flavor found in other cultures. I love to try out different types of foods and experiment. I love a Vegan Asian Pho soup kit that I get from the grocery store. Turmeric is found in many Indian cuisines. I love adding it to certain dishes.
10. Go at your own pace. It’s your journey and you are the driver. You can stop eating meat cold turkey or you can incorporate a couple of meatless meals throughout the week in your current eating routine. You can start off vegetarian and gradually move to vegan. You can start off as a vegan. You can incorporate both into your routine. You can do it however you want to. It’s your blueprint.
Let me add one more tip
Bonus tip: 11. Give yourself grace- On this journey, you are reshaping how you think about food. It is a process and you will have moments. That is ok. Dust yourself off and keep going.
I will say that now, my family will try the dishes that I make. They are surprised that the dishes are good. This journey is all about retraining your taste buds and being open to trying new things.
I’m going to end with everyone journey is different. Do what works for you.
I hope these tips were helpful.
Until next time