Everything You Need To Know To Start A Vegan Diet: What I Wish I Knew Back Then

by Taylor Ryan & Dan Boyle

Gosh, I wish I had something like this when I took the pludge into veganism. I scoured the web, the book stores and every place in between, but in the end I had to educate myself and I had to learn from other blogger’s recipes. But I am getting ahead of myself here.

First, Happy Monday! I hope your morning started off on the right side of the bed. I won’t lie, I think I could have slept just a few more hours, but after a good smoothie bowl topped with a bit of granola, I was pumped getting ready for the day.

Two boot camps down and now it’s my chance to sit and talk with you!

I have been asked by quite a few of you to lend some advice on veganism. Now trust me, I understand that eating vegan isn’t for everyone but this is something that can really benefit you even if you have absolutely no desire to eat plants all day, every day.

The most common question I hear is this: How do I get started eating vegan?

At first I was a bit hesitant to hit this question because I don’t want you to think I am preaching my eating habits. However, after my sister in law decided to give it a go, I decided I owed it to her and to those of you who are curious about veganism to clear the air.

So consider this vegan eating for beginners.

6 Rules For Starting A Vegan Diet

The first 4 weeks aren’t a walk in the park.

Go ahead and realize that any time you change the way you eat, it’s going to take some adjusting. The first month is the hardest because you’ll have times when you don’t know what to order, you’ll forget to order something vegan, you won’t know what to cook, and you are worried you have just decided on a life filled with nothing but salads and cans of beans.
bad vegan food

This was the worst idea… my attempt at a vegan quiche. Fastest meal from oven to trashcan ever.

Study.

There are several great blogs out there that can help you learn how to prepare vegan food. Gosh, I will never forget those first few dinners when Dan looked at his plate like a sad little orphan kid. He was so excited when I started to actually learn how to cook normal foods but with vegan techniques. The biggest help for me was Angela’s Oh She Glows, and my favorite vegan cookbook the Reduction Diet.

veggie plate

I had to learn how to give more than that to my husband!

Avoid boxed foods.

You’ve heard that vegetarians and vegans are suppose to be more healthy when it comes to weight, cholesterol, etc. But if that’s the case why do you see many overweight vegetarians and vegans? Because they’re eating the wrong foods. This is not the green light to eat all the pasta in the world, or other boxed “vegan” foods. Having a balanced diet rich in complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats is extremely important. When you eat a vegan diet the way it was intended then you will see your body change for the best.

Mix match stuff.

It can be really easy to make a salad with all sorts of yummy veggies and toss a can of chickpeas on top. While this is great, make sure that you’re combining foods to get the protein and nutrients you need. Very few plant foods contain all of the essential amino acids (proteins) that meat does. So to get it you have to pair up foods like: grains with beans/legumes; nuts with grains; and nuts with legumes/beans. The only foods that do have all essential amino acids are: quinoa, soy beans, and chia seeds.

Take for example this lentil bowl… it has: lentils, quinoa pasta, brussel sprouts, spinach, peppers, and garlic! Balanced? Oh yea.

lentil bowl

Have realistic expectations of foods.

Vegan meals are delicious, and while some really are just like their meat counterparts, others aren’t. If you’re expecting these bean meatballs to taste just like a regular meatballs you will be very upset. It taste great don’t get me wrong, but the texture isn’t the same, and neither is the flavor (I like the vegan ones better!). Delicious yes… meatballs no.

vegan meatballs

Look into vitamins.

Talk with your doctor about your decision to go vegan. He will most likely recommend you start taking zinc, vitamin B, and maybe iron to make sure you’re getting everything you need to be healthy and fully energized, A multivitamin will mostly be on that list as well. Personally right now, I make sure my meals are very balanced so all I take is a multi-vitamin and glucosamine (joint health).

What Foods Should You Keep In Your Vegan Kitchen?

Now that you have the rules, where do you go next? To the grocery store. It’s time to “veganize” your kitchen.

My sister-in-law asked if I would put together a list of vegan must-haves so I did. Well, actually I put together a video of vegan must-haves. Check it out and see if you’re missing anything.

Below the video, I will list everything out as well as the other staples that always makes it into our home.

Some of these are in the video, other’s aren’t. They aren’t a must but as you get comfie, a good idea to keep around.

Grains:

  • Oats
  • Garbonzo flour
  • Ezekiel Bread
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Wheat Berries
  • Chia seeds

Beans/Legumes:

  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Edamame

Produce:

  • Mushrooms
  • Arugula
  • Eggplant
  • Sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Brussel sprouts
  • ANYTHING!

Fats/Oils:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed meal (or oil)
  • Avocados

Vegan FAQ

And last but not least, here are a few frequently asked vegan questions I receive.

  1. Is being vegan expensive? Suprisingly no. We have actually saved money because beans, and other foods that I didn’t buy as much of before is still less expensive than meat. We were healthy eaters before, so many of these foods were already on the grocery list. The only difference is now, we have decided to spend a bit more by going organic or buying special pastas (like this one).
  2. Is it hard? Yes and no. At home it’s very easy because there aren’t any other choices. But it can be difficult when we go to a friend’s home for dinner or to a restaurant. Most restaurants are more than willing to make adjustments but sometimes I forget to ask about prep work and then when the meal comes there is cheese all over the place. This doesn’t happen any more because it is a habit to ask but it was hard at the start. As for friends, they know I am vegan and the know it’s not an insult to them if I bring my own entree or if I skip out on portions of their meals.
  3. What do I miss the most? Dan and I have a lovely little wine bar we used to go to. They have the best cheese plates, and since going vegan we haven’t been. I do miss the wine and cheese. But the idea of how cheese would make me feel if I decided to go for it, keeps me from doing it. I also love seafood!
  4. What changes have I noticed since going vegan? I have more energy for sure. My workouts have improved, my body has gotten tighter and and feel better about myself. This is the first time in a long time (like 10 years) where I have a really great relationship with food. When I am hungry I eat, when I am not I don’t. But there is no quilt or trying to mentally calculate what is going into my body. That’s the best feeling ever. I feel free.

So that’s a lot to take in! If you have ANY questions please let me know. I love to hear from you and I might even make it a regular Answer/Question video segment here. 



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