Some people can go vegan cold turkey. Others transition to a vegan diet over time. I transitioned to a vegan diet after being vegetarian for more than three years. Here are some tips I’ve tested to make your transition to a veganism easier.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or dietician. This is information that I have learned on my personal journey and want to share to help you with yours. I encourage you to do your own research and make the best choices for you. Please consult a doctor before making any significant diet changes.
1. Be prepared
Maybe you’ve heard this before, maybe you haven’t. Either way, being prepared is essential to succeeding with your new lifestyle. You should always have something vegan-friendly in your fridge or snacks for when you’re on the go. If you’re going to be out and about most of the day, pack a meal or know where there are vegan-friendly restaurants in your area. The last thing you want is to be tempted to eat something non-vegan because you are hungry and weren’t prepared.
2. Try to make the majority of your diet plant-based
When I say “the majority of your diet should be plant based,” I mean around 80 percent.The bulk of your diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and whole grains. This is something that I’m still working on because I love bread (most breads aren’t vegan by the way) and pasta.
3. Don’t restrict calories
Now this is one of the many perks of a vegan diet. You don’t have to, and, in fact, should not restrict calories. You are already eating whole natural foods, there is no need to limit calorie intake. Give your body time to adjust to your new plant-based lifestyle before limiting calories if you choose to do so.
4. Give yourself some options
It’s a total myth that vegan food is boring. There are endless vegan food options (well…minus meat, dairy and other animal byproducts) to choose from. You might have to get a little creative, but that’s another perk of being vegan. Here are some sites with great recipes to get you started: Sweet Potato Soul/Brown Vegan.
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself
It’s totally okay if you slip up and eat something non-vegan. This is a lifestyle change, just learn from it and keep it moving. Give yourself some credit, the fact that you’re even considering going vegan is a step in the right direction. Nobody is perfect, which is why we need to encourage and support each other to make healthier lifestyle choices for the mind, body and soul.
Grad Student, Free Spirit, Holistic Life Enthusiast. Check out my blog: miramarshall.com. Follow me on Instagram and Snapchat @MiraMarshall.
By celebrity trainer Mark Langowski, author, Eat This, Not That! for Abs
I haven’t done a sit-up in over a decade, and yet I have a six-pack.
How is this possible?
I realized a long time ago that the largest role in seeing any abdominal definition was diet. The only way get your body fat levels low enough to see muscle definition in your abdomen is by watching what you eat, doing countless hours of cardio, or a combination of both.
Because I don’t have the time or attention span to do any more than 30 minutes of cardio one to three days a week, and only have time for another one to two full body workouts per week, I know my diet has to be on point.
But once my body fat levels are low, how do I sculpt a visible 6 pack?
You would think the answer is: By doing countless sit-ups. WRONG.
I have been a personal trainer for over 13 years—during this time, I have learned a lot about a lot, but the most important topic that I discovered was 10 years ago when I found out how damaging sit-ups are to the discs in my spine. It was after listening to genius professor Stuart McGill, who is head of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, that I realized I had been doing more harm to myself and my clients by having them do traditional sit-ups.
I never relied solely on sit-ups when training myself or my clients, but I did do them.
After listening to McGill, I did my own extensive research and spoke to some of the world’s top spine surgeons, and they all said the same thing: Sit-ups can and will cause disc herniation. Once you flex the spine past approximately 25 degrees, you actually stop using your abdominals as the primary muscle group and start engaging your hips. When you flex the spine forward past a certain point, you are creating such pressure on the discs in your spine that you are at high risk for a herniation.
A traditional sit-up generates at least 3,350 newtons (the equivalent of 340 kg) of compressive force on the spine. The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health states that anything above 3,300 newtons is unsafe.
Although kids and adults should both steer away from sit-ups, it is more common to see disc herniations in adults, as the degeneration of the spine has not yet taken place in children. (This doesn’t make sit-ups OK for kids—I advise the families I train against it.)
But without sit-ups, you ask, how can I get a six pack?
With Eat This, Not That! For Abs, I have created an entire workout plan that is meant to get you a rock hard core without involving one single sit-up.
You’ll learn how to train the core in a functional way, keeping the spine healthy. I have seen clients go through back operations from injuries sustained outside of the gym and the process from injury to recovery is painful and grueling. You don’t want to end up under the knife of a spine surgeon; trust me.
Throughout the workout section of the book, I explain how to train the entire body in a way that is activating the core muscles in every exercise you do. A squat may look like a leg exercise, but did you know you are also working your core muscles when done properly? Inside the book, you’ll also get a complete meal plan. Below are my 15 favorite foods that keep my muscles fueled and stomach full!
Not only is fish packed with healthy fat, but it is also carb-free and packed with protein.
The yolks often get bad press, but the yolks provide healthy fat that is needed for brain development! These keep me full and are a great pair with my next favorite food for abs; oats!
The steel cut oats provide your body with the energy it needs to make it through those tough workouts and digests nice and slow into your bloodstream, so you don’t get a spike and crash!
I love this snack because it is portable and satisfies my hunger when I’m on the road. The healthy fat, protein, and zero carbs make this one of my favorite snacks; don’t forget about the fiber as well!
So many ways to enjoy this delicious green. Throw it in your morning smoothie, sauté it, or have it in a salad. Either way, you are getting an alphabet full of vitamins and an excellent source of fiber.
Black, white, red; whatever your choice is, make sure you keep these in your diet. These slow digesting carbs will provide you with energy for your day and also give you a great dose of fiber and protein! So complex!
This grain is one of my favorite foods to accompany a piece of fish with veggies. You don’t need much to fill you up and you can also prepare it in the morning with your eggs. Fiber, good carbs, and protein make this a must-have if you want to stay energized and see your abs.
11. Protein powder
Lets face it, in a perfect world, we would get all of our protein from natural food sources—but it’s hard. Select a powder that fits your dietary needs and stomach tolerance. I choose vegan protein powder, but one option that is great for getting your muscles to recover quickly is whey protein. Casein is also good for bedtime cravings as it will slowly digest while you sleep, steadily fueling your muscles.
It has the healthy fat that’s great for hair, skin and nails…and tastes delicious! Try it with eggs, in your salad or next to your salmon for dinner.
Sacha Harland, a Netherlands-based web video editor, ditches all of the sugar in his cabinets for a healthier lifestyle
Sugar: It’s not just lurking in your sweets and sodas.
When you decide to abstain from sugar for one month, the task at first seems like it would be easy: just clear your fridge of soda and juice, and empty your cabinets of sweet snacks and chocolates, and you’re good, right?Sacha Harland, a Dutch member of the web video team, LifeHunters, decided to undertake the task of cutting out added sugar, alcohol, artificial flavoring, and junk food from his diet for one month, and it was a lot tougher than it sounded. He then proceeded to capture his journey in a six-minute vlog.
On day one, he got a physical (he was deemed pretty fit, except for high cholesterol), and proceeded to clean house. Harland threw out things liked iced tea, teriyaki sauce, yogurt, and practically everything else in his kitchen.
“So I have no idea what you’re going to live on, Sacha, but good luck,” one teammate says.
More than half of the Dutch population struggles with being overweight or obese, and Harland’s experiment was meant to illustrate the impact added and processed sugars can have on your life. The first week, he felt fatigued and craved sweet and salty snacks.
By the end of the experiment, Harland lost some weight and his cholesterol levels dropped. He also confirmed sugar’s addictive tendencies, because the cravings were gone: Harland’s tastes completely shifted, and he now had more of a taste for cleaner, healthier foods.
Ironically, Harland is part of the same web video team that pranked organic food-loving people last year into believing cut-up McDonald’s food was the latest gourmet food trend.