Baby Steps to Plant Based – For the Hardcore Carnivore

i have talked a lot about juicing and what i eat on a daily basis; all vegan, with an emphasis on whole organic food. truthfully though, it took a long time to get here, even after i ditched meat and dairy.  i thought that i would go back to the beginning and do a simple step by step to plant based.  (you could do each step one at a time, week to week, month to month, or whatever is comfortable for you-but for simplicity sake i will use a weekly format) i will then go back through the list and dedicate a post to covering each step more in depth. sound good? ok, lets start.

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week 1. go green! and red! and orange! every day, for either breakfast, lunch or dinner make yourself a big salad. use organic baby spinach and romaine lettuce as your base, and top with whatever raw vegetables you like. think red pepper, tomato, cucumber, onion, carrots, celery etc. use whatever dressing you like, just make sure it doesn’t have corn syrup in it…that stuff is the devil.

week 2. lose the sausage. really. it’s like 60 % fat, and that is the best thing about it. this should be the first thing to go. once you realize how gross it is you can proceed to step two. (this includes hot dogs, kielbasa and anything else you can think of that is sausage-y)

week 3. no more ground beef. you can do it. no, a veggie burger will never compare to a big greasy cheese burger, you will however lose the cravings for this toxic food and your body and cows across the country will thank you for it. there are a million vegetarian substitutions that you can use in your favorite recipes to wean your self off of the “good” stuff.

week 4. any and all other forms of beef need to disappear from your diet. steak, liver, tripe; and all other forms of beef should be eliminated this week.  yes, you can get all the protein and iron you need from dark green vegetables that you added to your diet in step one!

week 5. add a smoothie or a juice to your daily routine. if you have a blender already, make a smoothie using frozen berries, a banana and a few leaves of kale. if you really want to go wild, add a tablespoon of chia or flax! just put all your ingredients in your blender and add a cup or so of water (enough to allow everything to blend), and voila. smoothified.

 

week 6. this was the most difficult thing for me to give up. i have since found out, that it isn’t just my lack of will power that made it so difficult, but eating this fatty and delicious substance causes an opiate like reaction in the brain. yep, it’s true. cheese really is addictive.the good news is, it only takes a few weeks for the cravings to vanish. every time you have a craving for this devilish dairy product, just picture yourself sucking on a cows teat, and drinking down all the blood and puss that comes out along with the milk. yum.

week 7. in step 1, you added veggies, in step 5 you added fruits! isn’t that great! you are already eating way healthier than you were before! congratulations! you also gave up many of the most difficult (and most toxic) “food” there is to remove from your diet! take this week and be proud of yourself! go for a long walk to celebrate!

week 8. so, did you go for a walk? you might want to add some exercise to your routine if you haven’t already. you are gonna have so much more energy once you are fully plant based, you are going to need and outlet to burn it all off! i love running, so find something you love and go for it! start slow and easy, and before you know it you will be reaching goals and milestones! this is the week to lose the pork. yes, i know, bacon is hot right now. it is everywhere. it is like people forgot that saturated fat clogs arteries and causes all sorts of health problems. no more pork for you!

week 9. admit it, you feel better, don’t you? instead of a coffee and some sort of sweet, doughy treat in the afternoon, eat an apple. and a handful (approx 20) almonds or cashews or walnuts. preferably the raw, unsalted variety of nut. if you don’t like apples (seriously??? is not liking apples even a thing?) or nuts, eat some carrots with hummus instead. or have some celery sticks with peanut butter. you get the idea: some raw produce with protein and some fat should now be your go to snack. no vending machine junk.

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week 10. speaking of vending machines…no more soda-pop. yes, i realize corn syrup originally comes from corn, which is a plant. no, you still can’t have it. not even diet. diet is worse. that shit will kill you. if you are a coke/sprite/diet pepsi addict. this is going to be difficult. sugar combined with caffeine is feel good combo that will be hard to let go of. but i have faith in you, and you should too. your liver will be so happy that once you kick the habit! you may feel sluggish and/or murderish for a few days, but it will pass, i promise.

week 11. yay! you are doing great. way back in week 7 you gave up cheese. way to go! now it is time to give up the rest of the dairy family. this includes milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, butter, sour cream, and any and everything else that is made from animal milk. this means that the dreaded label reading must begin. mostly you can just skip to the bottom of the label, because dairy is an allergen it will say in bold if there is dairy in the ingredients. now, i know this seems really hard, but there are so many substitutions! there are plenty of almond, coconut, soy and hemp ‘milk’ alternatives.  earth balance buttery spread is my go to ‘butter’, so delicious makes an army of dairy free  products including coconut milk ice cream!, tofutti brand makes wonderful sour cream and cream cheese, and there are countless nut-cheese recipes on the internet! it will take a little trial and error, and some serious getting used to, but think about all the baby cows that you are saving. no dairy=no veal. have a heart people!

week 12. it is exploratory time. let’s think about our options for dinner. we can have veggie stir-fry over rice, we can have bean burritos with guacamole, we can have baked sweet potatoes with piles of steamed vegetable, we can have pasta with tomato sauce and eggplant, we can have veggie burgers with oven roasted potatoes, we can have lentil soup and a crusty french bread, we can have tofu pot pie…there are a million different options. you just have to be open to trying new recipes, and new foods. this is the week to start getting creative. at least 5 of  your dinners this week should be fully vegan. get a vegan cook book, eat amy’s organic frozen vegan dinners, order vegan thai food, or eat pasta and tomato sauce every night.  just do it, so you know that you can.

week 13. with a cluck-cluck here and a cluck-cluck there, here a cluck, there a cluck, everywhere a cluck-cluck…which came first, the chicken or the egg? i have no flipping idea, so we are going to give up both at the same time. this should be a piece of cake after all that you have accomplished. chicken, duck, pheasant and whatever other bird you can think of is no longer part of your diet. neither are their eggs. again with the label reading, but eggs are an allergen too, so it should be fairly simple. there are eggs in mayo, most packaged treats and store bought desert items, and restaurant pancakes and waffles. i make a really good whole wheat, banana, flax pancake that is so good, you won’t give a hoot about those crappy frozen waffles.

week 14. getting there! so close you can taste it. your taste buds are probably becoming more accustomed to your new heart healthy diet, and your waist line is probably thanking you too! just a few more steps left. i want you to go to your local health food store. we have common crow in gloucester, ma. but most communities have one, or if that fails, go to whole foods. acquaint yourself with all the awesome new-to-you food that they offer, and while you are there, pick up a vegan vitamin b-12 supplement. i take one tablet every few months at most, because i use soy-milk on a fairly regular basis and the brand i use is supplemented with b-12. you can take one every day, or every other day if you like. whatever you feel comfortable with. it is the only vitamin that is only available in animal products.

week 15. how you feeling? you should be feeling accomplished, energetic and proud. you are making great strides toward health!  if you are getting some exercise and not stuffing yourself full of oreos (accidentally vegan cookies) you should be losing some fat, gaining some muscle and feeling good about yourself. if you are working out on a regular basis, you may have to adjust your food intake. fruits and vegetable are nutrition heavy, calorie light food. you will get far more nutrients, but far fewer calories. you want to make sure your body has all the calories it needs to get you through your day. add some avacado to your salad or veggie sandwich. have a scoop or brown rice with your stir fry, have a banana with your oatmeal, or have a hand full of pumpkin seeds when you are driving home from work. if you are feeling hungry, eat something. this is about being healthy and being compassionate, not about starving, dieting or feeling deprived. fruit will begin to taste like candy to you, and salads will become as satisfying as a steak dinner. be patient, with yourself, and with the process.

week 16. hey, do you have an 8. nope, go fish. yep, go fish, because you just 8 (ate) your last piece of fish. yep, fish, lobster, clams every sea creature you have ever swallowed is now in the past! seafood and game (deer, rabbit etc.) are last to go. as well as randomly non vegan things like gelatin (jello, some gummy candy) and guiness…  but you did it! this is the last week of things to give up! the rest is about all the new fruits and vegetables you can incorporate into your life.

 

good job! you will start to feel a million times better. you will have more energy, more focused concentration, more restful sleep, clearer skin, your will lose fat, your hair will be shinier and you will be generally more healthy. i hope that you come back and read and keep up with the more in depth week to week guide i will be writing. please feel free to ask me questions or leave your comments. if i don’t know an answer to a specific question you may have, i should be able to direct you to someone more knowledgeable or recommend some reading material or website. please feel free to re-post or share this to your hearts content with credit to annie eats apples.

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