Just as there are many reasons to live a vegan lifestyle, there are many ways to obtain this lifestyle. Some people may be needing an immediate health-correct, in which case, switching to a whole foods plant-based diet would be indicated. Others may also want the health benefits, but are not facing an imminent health crisis and can make the transition to a whole foods plant-based diet more gradually. Based on Veganuary.com, the motivation for many people to become vegan is multifactorial: wanting to stop animal cruelty, lower the environmental impact of their diet choices, and improve their health. I mention these scenarios as a preface to me proposing stages of veganism. Hear me out.
For those who have been raised on meat and dairy products, the thought of quitting those foods up may be hard. It may even seem impossible. Despite knowing that the evidence and science supports their decision, it can be an internal struggle of self-doubt. Many are faced with loved ones questioning their decision while being surrounded by ads for enticing meat and dairy products. They many experience fear of cravings or failure.
This is why I am proposing stages. Initially, when transitioning to a vegan diet, I recommend utilizing the vast array of products designed to mimic meat and dairy. The food science has exponentially grown over the past 10 years. Now you can find vegan burger patties that are juicy and sizzle in the pan (i.e. Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger). You can find vegan cheeses that slice, dice, and melt, just like the real thing, but without the terrifying hormones and saturated fats. The use of these items helps quiet the cravings and helps the initial feel of isolation from your omnivore loved ones. Bring the Beyond Meat patties to a BBQ or offer a dairy-free cheese spread at your next party. These are nice, easy ways to step into the vegan lifestyle. The key is to incorporate these meat and dairy substitutes into a well rounded vegan diet, which is comprised of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans.
Raising Vegan Tip- Beware of products packaged as dairy-free or lactose-free but are not actually vegan. How is this possible? Casein. Casein is a milk protein that slips into seemingly healthy products but it is in fact milk. Go Veggie is one brand that comes to mind that offers lactose-free (NOT vegan) and vegan products. Be sure to ALWAYS read the ingredients.
|Stage 1||Meat Substitutes||Dairy Alternatives|
|Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with Processed Foods||Gardein, Quorn*, Beyond Meat, Carla Lee’s Nut, Tofurky, Field Roast, Morning Star*, Lightlife||Chao Creamery, Silk, Follow Your Heart, Go Veggie*, Just Mayo, Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozarella, Tofutti, Daiya, So Delicious, Miyoko’s|
|Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with LESS Processed Foods||Upton’s Naturals, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Trader Joe’s 3-grain tempeh||Some from above, nutritional yeast, nut cheeses|
|Fruits, Vegetables, Whole Grains, and Beans, Supplemented with FEW to NO Processed Foods||Tofu, Seitan, Tempeh, Miso paste, Mushrooms, Jackfruit, Lentils, Beans||Nutritional yeast, homemade nut cheese, tofu ricotta, etc|
*Not all Brands are strictly vegan
**There are more brands than shown here.
It is amazing to me how the senses, especially taste and smell, change with a diet change. After just a few months of quitting meat and dairy, vegetables and fruits are more favorable. Even plain tofu tastes good, which I commonly serve to our Little. My husband and I were preparing a Beyond Meat burger the other day, and we were astonished by the resemblance of a beef patty. Flashback to when we first quit meat and we would have been thrilled. But, now the fake flesh was no longer appetizing. The smell and the way it sizzled was also a perfect replica of a burger cooking. Again, this would have been very enticing long ago, but now not so much. Our bodies crave different foods and feel better when they receive what they were designed to digest. I proudly support the mimicking fake meats, because they are great transitional foods. There are certainly plenty of veteran vegans that also enjoy them- so well done Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger!