6 Simple Ways to Thrive on a Vegan Diet
Written by: Briggy Jones
If you have seen our vegan recipes on the blog, you may have seen this coming. First, I’ll give a little introduction to myself to myself and my story.
Hi, my name is Brigetta. I follow a vegan diet and lifestyle and have been doing so for almost four years. I was first exposed to veganism at random times in my life, and I never thought anything of it. Some people I knew followed a vegan diet, but I had no desire to look into it.
A lot of my favorite foods were meats or super diary-heavy dishes. I grew up in a very rural area where hunting for your own personal food supply is not rare at all. I even went hunting when I was a teenager, though I never shot at anything. Veganism was not even on my radar.
When I was nineteen, I became exposed once again to veganism. I had been searching for a way to get healthier and back into shape. I came across a video by Essena O’Neil about benefits of being vegan for just one year. Just reading the title I said to myself, “Hah, no way. Veganism can’t be healthy.” Be that as it may, I saw the recommendation three times until I finally clicked on it. I figured I might as well see what she has to say. I was astounded by what she shared. I became so enthralled by the subject and I just couldn’t stop.
Over the course of three days I read dozens of articles about nutrition in search of the truth about food. I began to open my eyes to the reality of this world, including environmental changes encouraged by pollution of all kinds, cruelty to animals for the cause of dairy and animal agricultures, and the lies being told by the huge companies running the food of the U.S. and every where else in the world.
I want to make it very clear that I will not try to convince you of adopting a vegan diet. That’s not my mission. If you feel compelled to do so, I would encourage you to do extensive research so that you can gain knowledge to get all the proper nutrition required.
Being vegan can be difficult at first. Any dietary exclusions like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, sugar-free, organic take some getting used to. There are bound to be messups, mistakes, and times when one might ‘cheat’ on the diet. I’ve done all of these, so I hope the things you are about to read will help you.
If you want to try out veganism, you have already made a transition and are struggling, or you have been a vegan for a while and are finding yourself a little bored with it, please take the time to keep reading!
To those who are interested in trying a vegan diet, I’m looking at you! I know many vegans may disagree with me that having a cheat day is beneficial; however, when I began, I had no clue if I would continue it. So I started out with one day a week that I would eat whatever I wanted. By the end of the third week, I had no desire for having a cheat day anymore. I still had occasional cheese cravings, but dairy is like an addiction to refined sugar; once you stop eating it completely, you stop wanting it. You begin to come in tune with what your body really needs and wants.
I immediately started losing body fat and water weight with very little exercise. It was extremely encouraging to see that confirmation of how I was feeling. I felt lighter in my stomach, and I had this empowering clarity of mind. It was like a fog was lifted from my brain. It’s an incredible feeling. Every day I kept up with eating clean and vegan, I was motivated that much more to reach a status of healthiness.
If transitioning to adopting a vegan diet is something that you want to do, I think you should do some trials. Some people start out with one or two days a week. If you are unsure where to start, try taking a look at Instagram. There are hundreds of hashtags that I get inspiration from all the time. #Meatlessmonday is a great one for people who want to start, but might not know how.
It starts by taking steps. Baby steps, adult steps, or giant steps could work for you; you won’t know until you do it!
Find great sit down/takeout food
Going out to eat is not always an option as a vegan. There’s a lot less food that you can eat from restaurants. When I go out, 90% of the time I order sides and I have to give specific instructions so they know not to put any dairy in my food.
Chinese food is about the only food I can order delivery for. It is worth it, so I don’t really mind. Granted, I could just order plain breadsticks from Papa John’s when my husband orders pizza, but that’s not a meal and I still have to cook anyway.
Depending on where you live, you might not find any restaurants you can get food from that are good or worth the money. Growing up in a very small town, there aren’t many options even if you’re not vegan. There are about fifteen pizza places in five miles, two Subway’s, a few local owned restaurants, and about ten terrible fast food restaurants. Trying to get good food is almost impossible. I feel for you!
If you happen to live in an area like I do, there are slightly more options, but to get any really amazing vegan food, you have to make a trip out of town and go to a nearby city. I live about twenty five miles from Dallas, where it’s a pain in the butt to get there and deal with traffic, prices, parking, crowds and all the rest….. but the food is incredible, a real treat.
Learn how to cook/ broaden your tastes
If you are a new vegan or are considering trying it, knowing how to cook will help you more than you might realize. When I decided to try veganism, the most I knew how to cook was pasta. I didn’t know how to make food taste good other than with salt and pepper. It was pretty pathetic.
I ate a lot of raw veggies and fruit on recommendation from Freelee the Banana Girl on YouTube. I made a lot of smoothies, some of them tasting so bad that I had to throw them out, and I don’t throw out food. I ate a lot of salads, but I wasn’t feeling satisfied. Learning how to cook was my only hope for sustaining a vegan diet.
Now that I’ve been eating vegan for a while, at times I’ve run out of recipes and gotten bored with my typical food I make. Something that has helped me over the years is vegan cook books. There are some really great cookbooks I suggest taking a peek at.
It’s so important to remember that all good cooks and bakers learn from trial and error. You never know what you’re capable of until you do it! As long as you are still trying, you will learn new things about the way food works.
Some of my personal favorite cookbooks are:
Vegan On The Cheap- by Robin Robertson
The Oh She Glows Cookbook- by Angela Liddon
Better Than Vegan- by Del Sroufe
Step-by-step Asian- by Love Food
Farm Fresh Flavors- by Randall L. Smith
Veganizing Favorite Recipes
This is something I would recommend for vegans who have been vegan for a little longer or have more experience cooking, especially in more difficult recipes. There are lots of places you can look to that have great ideas.
Sometimes when I’m struggling to come up with more interesting recipes, I just head to Pinterest and see what my non-vegan friends are sharing. Once I find something I want to try, I figure out what substitutes I can use to create the texture, taste, look, and overall effect in that recipe. Next I have to see if I have those substitutes on hand or if I have to put that recipe on the proverbial back burner until I can get the right supplies. I usually go through many recipes before I find one that would work to create a vegan dish.
I also think back to before I was vegan and what recipes were some of my favorites as a child. Some of the classics like lasagna, mashed potatoes with a beef gravy, desserts, and green bean casserole are not easy to master veganized, and I haven’t even tried lasagna yet. When you can try these out a few times and really get a good idea of how to be resourceful and make vegan things taste non-vegan, it is sooo worth it. It will make you feel less like you are missing out on some of your past favorite foods.
Also, when you try these out, don’t be afraid to try anything! You never know what you’ll learn from experience.
Keep a Diary of Your Vegan Journey
Having a diary of your vegan journey is a great tool to help you see how far you’ve come, no matter what your motivation to be vegan. There are lots of different ways you can create a diary to look back on.
The form I used without really trying is Instagram. I remember posting my first vegan meal on my page. It was a strange moment for the people around me. No one really knew about my trying veganism out at that point. It took awhile for people to get used to the idea of me being vegan.
Being able to have a visual representation of my vegan journey was an integral step for me. It helped me keep accountability with myself, since I didn’t have any family or close friends that were vegan. Actually I still don’t. Ahem.. still working on that. At any rate, posting my food and thoughts about veganism was a great tool for meeting other vegan people and to see how far I had come, similar to a weight loss journal on Instagram.
If you prefer your journals to be written out instead of online where other people can see it, there are quite a few I would recommend. One would be a food journal. In this type of journal, you can track everything you are eating. This is especially helpful for people who are striving to be healthy or reach a goal weight. At one point I started a food journal for my son, because he was having diaper rash reactions to certain foods. It was extremely beneficial in finding out the root cause.
Another type of journal to keep is one where you share your experience with veganism. This could include problems or temptations, new findings in research, joys and triumphs, exciting things, or anything to do with veganism. I find this one very effectual in remembering why you are doing what you are doing. It can better your ability to see the good when there’s so much bad that you are exposed to.
Continue education in nutrition and vegan-related topics
One thing that really helped me at the beginning of my transition was to know everything that I was consuming. I really was on the cusp of learning as much as I could. I loved it!
Some people will interpret your love for trying new things and knowing vitamins and nutrition of all types of foods as being crazy or something to be worried about. Let me tell you, wanting to know more about the world we live in and the things it provides is not weird or crazy or orthorexic thinking. Some people are passionate about cars, music, sports, movies, and some people are passionate about food. Orthorexia is a serious thing that affects people all over the world. It’s not something to be judged by someone who doesn’t understand your passion of learning.
A lot of people lose the desire to educate themselves after they stop going to school, and a lot of people will try to make you feel unreasonable for being different. Those judgements are not the ones that matter. What matters is what you do with the information you find.
There are so many books you can read about veganism and overall health that are inspirational, informative, and advantageous to your self education. Even if you feel like you will never know what you are supposed to eat, books are a fantastic tool to find the truth about nutrition. Some books I have my eyes on are:
How Not To Die- Michael Greger, MD
How Not To Die Cookbook- Gene Stone and Michael Greger, MD
Becoming Vegan- Brenda Davis
The Pleasure Trap- Alan Goldhamer and Douglas J. Lisle
The Alzheimer’s Solution- Ayesha and Dean Sherzai
The Longevity Diet- Valter Longo
I would also like to link some YouTube channels that are great sources of vegan subjects.
Lillykoihawaii- recipes, vegan nutritionist advice and information, physical fitness, and lifestyle
Ellenfisher- lifestyle and recipes
Highcarbhannah- recipes and weight loss information
Jennamarbles- vegan/gluten free comfort food and entertainment
Nutritionfacts.org- nutritional, study-backed information
I’m really interested to see if we have vegan readers here, so please comment below to let us know if this was helpful and if you want to see more vegan content further on. If you’re not vegan, let us know what you think and if it peaked your interest to veganism.
We appreciate every one of you, and we hope to speak soon!
Brigetta (Briggy) Jones is an easy-going, art loving boy mom and dog mom. She loves to make music with her trusty guitar, cook vegan food, and write. She enjoys farm life at her home and exploring the city of Dallas with her husband and son. Briggy joined The Quiet Nonsense team to focus her skills and passions into a platform to engage with her readers in a personal way. One day she hopes to have her artwork displayed all over the world.