Thinking of going vegan or doing a vegan challenge? Here’s step two of five things to do and think about while embarking on your vegan journey!
2. Do you research and be careful what you read.
When I mean do your research—I mean look information up online and talk to health professionals if possible.
BE CAREFUL on what you read—if you are reading articles written by people or organizations—there are a few things to look out for. The website is probably NOT CREDIBLE if: there a lot of ads on the website, it is a website or “news” website you’ve never heard of, or TRY to STATE FACTS without naming where they got their information from. A CREDIBLE website/article will: mention sources by adding links, mention academic/scientific STUDIES or government websites, and will not make BIG CLAIMS (ex: eating blueberries will cure cancer)
If you are reading studies by companies, organizations, or experts—it’s important to check if they peer reviewed AND check who are they funded by!
Now that we discussed the boring yet important stuff about looking things up, here are FOUR things you SHOULD research before your VEGAN JOURNEY: common things to eat, changes to the body, new recipes and healthy alternatives.
Common things to eat—People who are SUPER NEW to plant-based eating like to ask, “So what do you eat?” answer: what do you eat? The real answer just depends on WHAT YOU LIKE eating...so the question is honestly rhetorical to begin with. If you grew up in an Asian household, and transitioning to plant-based you probably will eat many ASIAN DISHES with a vegan twist, Latinx? Same thing. I’m actually LATINA, so I’m telling you it CAN BE DONE. Many of my favorite traditional dishes contain a lot of DAIRY and Manteca (lard). But thanks to plant-based chefs, vegan influencers and trial and error I’ve been able to still enjoy my favorite dishes VEGAN-style—tacos, sopa de fideo, pozole (different types of soups) and even TAMALES! The great thing about eating-plant based in this TIME PERIOD of that there are SO MANY OPTIONS and SO MUCH INFO online—on how to recreate traditional dishes using either 100% plants or plant-based options!
Changes to the body—Have a health condition? The amazing thing about eating 100% plant-based, is that your body will go through an amazing TRANSFORMATION and HEAL itself. Want to GET RID of mild to severe acne? Ease GI problems? Decrease HIGH blood pressure? HIGH cholesterol? Help reverse and cure type 2 diabetes? Cancers and other illnesses? I mean who would say no to this? It almost sounds TOO GOOD to be true, but that’s because nutrition is NOT TAUGHT in U.S education system and is NOT made a PRIORITY unlike other countries. Check out my post “5 Health Benefits of Being Vegan” for my in-depth research of benefits of being vegan (yes I cited my sources). Talk to your doctor of course, but remember they are NOT nutrition experts and know VERY LITTLE about the power of medicinal plants or how certain foods can PREVENT and REVERSE health conditions. Registered Dietitians and Registered Nutritionists—are professionals who studied how FOODS affect the body both POSITIVELY and NEGATIVELY. Not only do they have degrees but also have to take a NATIONAL EXAM just like nurses, doctors and other professions (Source: RD vs. RDN vs. Nutritionist? | Berkeley Wellness). I have not personally gone to a registered dietician, but they are becoming more accessible outside of hospitals or medical centers. I have seen their services offered at schools and even GYMS. In a few years I aspire to become one myself to be able to legally create nutrition plans for the MILLIONS of people suffering with PREVENTABLE/ LIFESTYLE health conditions.
New Recipes—Vegan or not, eating the same thing gets boring and people are always looking for new recipes. One of my FAVORITE parts of my VEGAN JOURNEY has been learning and trying new foods. There is so much you can do with plants. It’s been so fun transforming and combining foods to either make a classic dishes (potatoes+carrots to make “cheese” for Mac n cheese) or frying king oyster mushrooms for a “chicken tender” texture and taste.
New recipes also means trying new foods... According to the CDC, U.S adults and kids DON’T EAT ENOUGH fruits and veggies and it is a MAJOR PROBLEM(Source 1 , Source 2). That means that there are also a lot of people that probably don’t know some foods even exists! Ever heard of BUTTER LETTUCE? What about KING OYSTER MUSHROOMS? GOLDEN MELONS? Don’t be ashamed if you haven’t! Before I was vegan, I didn’t even know about these yummy veggies and fruits!! This journey will not only teach you new ways to make old dishes but also teach you about new healthy and powerful foods!
Healthy Alternatives—Some people CRITICIZE vegans for eating plant-based meats like BEYOND or IMPOSSIBLE BURGERS...It’s almost like people feel like the concept of dead animals and naming it (to something that sounds less gruesome) has an entitlement to it...hot dogs for example is the made-up name for PIG INTESTINES + LEFT OVER DEAD ANIMAL SCRAPS...we all know what they are truly are but for some reason we are disgusted when reminded what they are made of...but when we call them “HOT DOGS” we are removed/blinded from the reality and CONTINUE to eat them. The truth is some weird sick person along history made up this name to cover up the ugliness that is hot dogs...that person didn’t own the name for but after some time the name “hot dog” became a traditional part of American culture...So who is really the sick person here?? The person who knows that they are eating a product made 100% of plants, cruelty-free, that has the same title “hot dogs” OR the person that intentionally tried to forget how unhealthy and gruesome their food is while also having a made-up title, “hot dogs”??
TIP 103: There are misconceptions that some plant-based products cause more harm to the body than animal products. The truth is it depends, if you have a health condition that prevents you from eating primarily plant-based foods, you DEF need to talk to a health professional before embarking on your vegan journey! At the same time, will it be healthy if you only eat junk food even if it’s vegan? I’m talking vegan DONUTS, impossible burgers and FRIES all the time...we know that’s NOT HEALTHY. Your body needs a good balance between healthy nutrient-dense foods (fruits/veggies/nuts) and some unhealthy foods. If your eating habits BEFORE GOING VEGAN were already unhealthy and you continue to eat unhealthy as a vegan...DON'T EXPECT any positive changes or too much healing. This is why DOING YOUR RESEARCH is important. Use this opportunity to START trying new fruits, veggies and spices to see what you LIKE and DISLIKE.
BONUS TIP: Watch documentaries—I forgot about this one, but documentaries are factual, interesting and super helpful. I def have my top list of documentaries that I have REWATCHED and RECOMMENDED to people. Check out my blog post “3 Documentaries That Will Inspire You” for details on which documentary is BEST FOR YOU.
Hope this article was helpful. Drop comments below for any questions or tips. Stay tuned in for PART THREE!