1. I have always eaten a diet full of animal products. I want to go vegan, but how do I start?
Making one small change at a time is a great way to increase your chances of sticking to it and not becoming overwhelmed. Start by swapping one animal product you would normally consume with a vegan version, and do that enough until it becomes habit. Milk is a great option to start with, because there are so many delicious plant-based alternatives out there, that you are sure to find one you like. My personal favourite is almond milk. It has a very mild flavour, and when drank cold in particular, tastes very similar to dairy milk. It is so easy to substitute plant-based milks in so many recipes, especially in baked goods, and it is impossible to tell the difference. Of course, since converting to almond milk many years ago, I have come to prefer it immensely over the taste of cow’s milk anyway! An added bonus – it is ridiculously cheap and easy to make at home yourself once you’re in the plant-based-preppin’ groove!
The best advice I can give on this front other than taking it slow and making one conversion at a time, is being kind and gentle towards yourself. Forgive yourself if and when you slip up, and remind yourself of the progress you have made, and of the incredible change you are making for your health and the planet.
Something else that really helped me out was being able to reach out to fellow vegans and other people who were making the transition. The journey is FAR less daunting, and that much more ENJOYABLE when you have others beside you along the way. Do some digging to find out about local vegan restaurants, markets, and fairs, and reach out to the ever-growing web family who have dedicated themselves to helping and supporting people like you!
2. What are some vegan substitutes for my favourite animal products such as meat, cheese, ice cream etc?
Meat – There are so many ways to achieve that umami-bomb flavour other than using meat. A few of my favourites are: mushrooms (especially grilled portobellos!), roasted nuts, grilled eggplant, marinated tofu, crispy tempeh, and rich soup broths.
Cheese – Anything with a good amount of salt, like roasted nuts or olives, is a great substitute for dairy cheese. Also – hello nutritional yeast!! Not only is it a staple for me in any vegan cheese recipe, I love using it in sauces, dips, dressings, and sprinkling it over popcorn with camelina oil and salt (yummm!) With veganism growing exponentially, there are always new brands of vegan cheeses appearing on the market. Try one, try ’em all! Or better yet – avoid the preservatives and additives and make your own at home!
Ice cream – Good news for all you ice cream fanatics out there! There are actually SO many plant-based ice creams out there that taste HEAPS better than the dairy version, and don’t send you running to the bathroom every twenty minutes (don’t pretend like you don’t know what I’m talking about…) I’ve tried coconut-based ice creams, ones that use bananas, and fruit sorbets, which are all delightful. My favourite though, has to be cashew ice cream. Cashews have a high fat content and blend up easily, making for an incredibly smooth, creamy texture that I promise you will love more than conventional ice cream!
Honey – Stevia, xylitol, maple syrup, dates, and organic cane sugar are all excellent honey alternatives.
Eggs – Flax eggs are incredibly healthy and versatile. Simply add 1 tbsp ground flax meal to 3 tbsp. warm water in a small bowl, stir and leave to sit for 10 minutes. The mixture will turn into a gel-like substance that works as an excellent binding substitute for eggs. Bananas, tofu, chia eggs (same as flax egg but use ground chia seeds), apple sauce, agar agar, and peanut butter are also excellent substitutes.
Yogurt – Many alt milk yogurts are now on the scene, including soy, almond, and coconut. Coconut is my favourite!
3. Can I go vegan if I’m on a budget?
YES!!! Normally, the bulk of a grocery bill comes from meat and cheese products. Since eliminating these from my cart, I have actually SAVED money every week! Not to mention, some of the healthiest, most versatile plant-based ingredients are also the CHEAPEST! Bananas, oats, rice, tofu, tempeh, dried beans, and legumes are all staple ingredients in my pantry, and they happen to be some of the cheapest ingredients in the store! SCORE!
4. What if I live with someone who is not vegan?
Tell em to shovel down or pack up! Hahah, just kidding! (Kind of… ;)) When you are making a choice to better your health and help the planet, that takes precedence over everything. You have to be selfish to be selfless, and that means putting your wants and needs and goals and dreams first. If your partner is fortunate enough to have you cook for them, then they should express gratitude towards whatever you put on their plate. If, however, your partner does not attempt to adapt to your new lifestyle, then I strongly suggest you allow them to cook for themselves. Remember, you must put you and your happiness FIRST, otherwise no one wins! Everyone benefits from a plant-based lifestyle, and that has been made very apparent to me since moving in with Brandon. When B and I met, he was far from vegan. He has since adapted to a “vegan by default” lifestyle, because I love cooking for us every day, and I only buy plant-based foods. Not only have I never received a complaint about the lack of meat and dairy in his diet, but he continuously talks about how amazing the meals are, how well his digestive system works, how clearly he is able to think, and how much energy he has during his physical work days.
5. Can I truly feel satisfied from vegan food?
Yes, yes, a million times YES!!!!!!!!!!!! Some of the best cuisines in the world are naturally vegan, like many Indian and Thai dishes, and that is because they know how to make BIG FLAVOURS! It is all about getting creative with herbs, spices, and other ingredients. Yes, you are going to have to expand your spice repertoire past the salt and pepper shakers, but that is where the true fun and art comes in! Honestly, the more I push my boundaries in the kitchen, the more confident I become in everything else. It is a total win-win: you become a better cook, and your enthusiasm and creativity seeps into every other facet of your life. Remember to take it SLOW, keep it SIMPLE, and never call a dish done until it is truly SATISFYING!
6. Won’t I become depleted in nutrients by going vegan?
No! In fact, if you are eating the right foods in the right proportions, you will not only nourish your cells, but you will heal your gut, balance your weight, increase your energy, and boost your immunity to whole new levels! In order for that to work though, you need to nix the notion that vegans only eat salads. Because sure, if you’re just nibbling on iceberg lettuce for three meals a day, your energy and nutritional stores are going to go down the drain – hard and fast. But, if you eat a wide variety of organic foods in all colours of the rainbow, your entire being will experience the incredible benefits, almost immediately. Make sure to get some green things in you daily, nosh on good vegan protein sources, and load up on fats! Since fat takes the longest to metabolize in the body, it is necessary that we get enough to feel satiated, and to balance our blood sugar levels. I always have a good dose of healthy fat in every meal and snack. Some of my favourite sources are – avocados, avocados, and more avocados; oils such as virgin coconut, grape seed, extra-virgin olive, avocado, and camelina; peanut and other nut butters; olives; seeds such as flax, chia, sunflower, and pumpkin; and nuts such as cashews, almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
7. What about mock meats?
Honestly, I stay away from them. For one thing, you cannot expect that a tofu-dog is going to taste as good as a regular hot dog. Why set yourself up for disappointment? The key to making amazing vegan food is to use recipes that are naturally vegan. Besides, mock meats and meat alternatives are usually loaded with sodium and additives that are far from health conscious.
8. How do I start using The Law of Attraction to better my life?
The first thing you need to do is become clear about what you want. Until you do, life will present you with circumstances by default. You will remain the passenger on a ride to which you were designed to be the driver. It can be overwhelming at times to know what you want – believe me, I know! Sometimes it is easier to start by figuring out what you don’t want. Once you know that, then you can file its opposite as something you do want. For example, if you don’t want to be broke anymore, then you could say that financial freedom is something you do want. Start comprising a list of all the things you want, and check in with that list daily. Allow yourself to feel how GOOD it will feel once that thing is in your reality. The Art of Allowing and the ability to Feel Good Now are the most important principles in putting The Law of Attraction to work for you. For more detailed descriptions on how to start manifesting your dreams, head on over to the Manifest Station section of this site!
9. What is an affirmation?
The dictionary defines an affirmation as a statement of the existence or truth of something. I like to think of affirmations as little reminders about my true nature. They are things that we knew before we came into this incarnation, but were meant to forget from time to time during the course of our life, so that we may experience incredible joy and satisfaction once we remember them. Usually, affirmations are one to a few sentences long, and are designed to be read to yourself as many times as necessary until you are able to remember the Truth in their message. When affirming something to yourself, it is important to focus on the POSITIVE feeling you want to induce, just as with manifesting. Ie: If you want to lower your stress levels, instead of saying, “I can feel my stress decreasing every day”, a more powerful affirmation would be, “Every day I feel more and more relaxed.” With the first example, the focus is still on the word ‘stress’, which your Being responds to accordingly – it becomes more stressed! With the latter example, relaxation begins to take place at the mere reading of the word. Always focus on the positive! =)