Meat: Love it or Leave it?

Tips for Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet

Are you questioning your love of meat and animal products? There is a lot of information available in recent years that show plant-based diets can improve our health and the health of our planet too!

If you are starting to think about plant based diets like pescetarianism, vegetarianism, veganism, or anything in between, there are a few things you should think about first. Gymaholic give you some tips to get you started and push you in the right direction, showing you how to make a plant-based diets a long and happy lifestyle choice.

Vegan tortillas

What it Means to Go Plant-Based

The title ‘plant-based’ is fairly self explanatory, which is why it’s the focus of this article rather than vegetarian or vegan. There are different ‘levels’ of plant based diets, but they are just words that generally state what you eat without you having to explain it in more detail.

Pescetarians generally do not eat meats, but they do eat fish, eggs and dairy products, and do not try to avoid animal ‘ingredients’ like byproducts that come from various animals used as stabilizers (gelatin, ext.) and added ingredients in foods and cosmetics.

Vegetarian is a wider term that can sometimes be similar to pescetarians. Vegetarians do not usually eat meat but there are some ‘part time’ or ‘flexible’ vegetarians that consume certain meats less frequently. They may or may not eat fish, eggs or dairy products (Lacto-ovo vegetarian is used for those who consume eggs and dairy). Often vegetarians also do not try to avoid animal ‘ingredients’.

Vegan is essentially avoiding everything possible that does or could have come from an animal. It varies between people, but usually this includes avoiding all meats, fish (and seafood), eggs, dairy (from any dairy producing animal) and any ingredients (gelatin, hormones, stabilizers, ext.) that are made from animal byproducts. Some vegans include honey and bee-products, and extend their choices from food into items that include leather and feathers.

Why Go Plant-Based?

There is a ton of evidence that people have written entire books on, showing the logical, physical and economical value of eating plant based diets-- But what it all comes down to is you and your personal choice.

Many people want to be healthier, but more often there are a lot of morals and beliefs that come into play when dealing with animals, which push people to seek plant-based options.

Although it is great to increase your intake of plant products over animal products simply because it can be healthier, you should do some research on the benefits of that choice, and think truly about why you want to change. Putting reasoning behind a decision can be a strong motivator, keeping you going and putting you back on track if you start to stray from your goals.

Is There Anyone That Shouldn’t?

Yes and no. In the technical sense, anyone can live on a plant-based diet, even an extreme vegan diet. Deciding whether a health condition would be worsened by a plant-based diet should be decided by your doctor and possibly a dietician.

The problem with many people is that they do not have the time and patience to learn how to get what they need from plant sources and make it enjoyable. Others tend to tie weight loss to plant based diets, which is not always an achieved benefit. This is what causes most people to try and fail when suddenly switching to vegetarian/vegan.

All bodies and situations are different, so the way you tackle a plant-based diet needs to be personalized to you and your daily life, body and activity level, just like a non-vegetarian/vegan diet. If you want more information specifically on exercising and plant based diets, check out building muscle on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Someone who is heavily active needs to consume a lot more than someone who isn’t, and if you want to lose weight, you need to consume healthier sources of carbohydrates, fats and protein. Despite there being a lot of healthier options, there are plant-based versions of most processed and junk foods too.

Believe it or not, eating healthy for a vegetarian/vegan has similar problems to eating healthy as a non vegetarian/vegan.

Vegan pastas

Plant-Based (Vegetarian/Vegan)

  • Processed and pre-made foods that are cheaper may taste bland.

  • Processed and pre-made foods are expensive and taste better, but are likely high in simple sugars, fats, sodium... and bad for your health.

  • Making your own food requires more learning and research into recipes and time to cook and prepare in advance. Trading in your time makes the price more manageable.

Plant and Animal Based (Non-Vegetarian/Vegan)

  • Processed and pre-made foods are cheaper and taste better, but are likely high in simple sugars, fats, sodium... and bad for your health.

  • Processed and pre-made foods that are expensive may taste bland.

  • Making your own food requires more learning and research into recipes and time to cook and prepare in advance. Trading in your time makes the price more manageable.

You can see that the food industry has made it difficult for everyone to eat healthy. The best option is to find the time to learn, prepare and cook things for yourself so you can control the ingredients and make great tasting, healthy food for cheaper. With that said, let’s look at some tips to help you along the way!

Let’s Get Started!

  • Go at your own pace. Crash diets don’t work for a reason. The quicker and more dramatic your change is, the less likely it’s going to stick with you for the long term.

  • Small changes and goals. You do not have to throw out all the meat, eggs and/or dairy in your house and become vegan tomorrow. Slowly stop eating/buying one type of meat/animal product at a time over a period of a few weeks.

  • Don’t sweat the rules. If you feel guilty every time you accidentally eat something that contains meat, you’re not going to have fun transitioning. It happens, and there are a lot of times when you’re first starting out that will feel like you don’t have a choice but to break the rules. Over time you can find ways to work around different situations to suit you.

  • Learn constantly. The internet is your best friend. Look up ways to make plant-based versions of your favourite foods. Find cookbooks and websites with recipes and look up how to properly cook vegetarian/vegan ingredients.

  • Try new things. A lot of great foods can come from different cultures, and when you need to eat plant-based, having variety can keep things new and fun. Branch out and eat vegetables you haven’t before, or try a new restaurant that has more vegetarian or vegan options.

  • Be prepared. Preparing your own meals/snacks can help tremendously with cravings and if you are in a social situation, can reduce the stress put on others by what you want to eat.

  • Start at home. When you go out to restaurants or social events sometimes there aren’t as many options for you. It’s okay to start with what you can control within your own home. Sometimes it can feel better to build new positive habits on your own without fear of judgement from others.

  • Respect others. Others may not agree with your lifestyle, and you may not agree with theirs. It is not your place to judge their choices and not their place to judge yours.

  • Find support where you can. There are tons of support groups online that can share stories and recipes. Find a friend that wants to try new things with you, or even just offer their moral support.

Conclusion

If this is something you want to do, stick with it, and take the time to work through problems instead of just giving up. Make what you want and what you believe in a part of your life, and don’t let anything stop you.

Do your best, remind yourself constantly why you want to do this and try to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Work hard and stay strong!

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