“What the Health.” A Definitive Guide to Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet.
“Change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous in the end.” ~ Robin Sharma
As the movie “What the Health” came to an end, Kip was shopping for groceries, and I remember wondering to myself what he was buying. I figured if I had the thought, others probably did too.
When I began getting blasted with messages from non-vegan friends asking for vegan advice, I knew my suspicions were real. They wanted to know where to start.
I told them to begin slowly, be patient, study up—but scattered information wasn’t the answer. Then it popped into my head: why not just write something for them? Something super easy to understand that takes all the guesswork out of going vegan.
So, after much thought, Q & A’s with friends, and long nights, I can happily say I have put together the best guide ever made on what we can do after seeing “What The Health.”
We also made this PDF checklist to be used to quickly reference this information when needed.
Here’s a list of things you should have in your kitchen at all times. If you don’t have them, get them:
• Tomato sauce
• Coconut milk
• Curry powder
• Vegetable stock
• Nutritional Yeast
• Frozen fruits
• Diced Tomatoes
For an effective transition, we have to reimagine how we see our plates.
Too sweet? Add an acid (vinegar or citrus juice, herbs, cayenne).
Too spicy or acidic? Add a fat (vegan butter or cheese, avocado or olive oil) or a sweetener (sugar or maple syrup).
Remember to lightly season at the beginning, and then adjust to taste after serving.
Download our “Easy 3-Ingredient Recipe Book” here!
The feeling of not being able to live without meat will probably happen because meat releases chemicals (dopamine) similar to drugs like cocaine and heroin. It’s an addiction. Luckily, there are literally vegan versions of every food one could possibly crave.
Cutting things out too quickly causes people to feel like they’ve lost something, or that they’re being deprived of it. Crowding something out means that something is replaced with something else—so the loss isn’t felt.
To be human is to make mistakes.
The most important thing to do when we have a slip-up or two is to not live in the mistake. Some people use a slip-up as an excuse to quit, when it should be viewed as a learning experience. Veganism and/or plant-based diets are not about being perfect. It’s about doing our best with a concerted plan of action going forward.
Veganizing any food.
Tasty food isn’t decided on whether it contains animal products or not. It’s the textures and flavor that make all the difference in the world.
Here’s a list of what foods to replace with what:
• Eggs (in baked goods) = applesauce; pureed, soft tofu; flax; mashed bananas (experiment a little)
• Milk = almond, coconut, rice, oat
• Fish = chickpeas or tempeh
• Fish flavor = seaweed
• Mushrooms = meat-like texture
• Ground beef = crumbled tempeh, seitan, or cooked lentils
• Eggs = tofu (scramble)
• Heavy cream = coconut cream
• Mayo = avocado or hummus
• Oil = unsweetened applesauce
• Butter = coconut oil
• Pulled pork = jackfruit
• Bacon = Tofu strips (with soy sauce; baked)
• Honey = maple syrup, agave, or date paste
Download “The Vegan Cheeze Bible” here! It has every classic cheeze recipe and teaches anyone how to make them without any frustration.
Eat before…and after.
Eat before going out. Have the fruit platter, salad, or something while there. Then go home and eat again.
Use your pockets.
Use those pockets for something other than credit cards and phones, and carry a little snack when going out.
Middle Eastern food is easily the most vegan-friendly food in the world; followed by Indian, Mexican, Thai, and Ethiopian. (Keep in mind that they all may include hidden animal-based ingredients, such as ghee, so be sure to ask.)
Call ahead and ask questions. Be a good scout.
Ask a greeter or a server about the plant-based options. They’ll be able to give a rundown before seating occurs.
Translate the codes.
Many menus have little icons that indicate which items are vegan or vegetarian. Most times it’ll be a “V,” “VG,” or some other plant-like indicator.
Have a back-up plan for your back-up plan.
Scout a few places ahead of time. Maybe keep a Thai or Indian restaurant in mind, just in case.
There a lot of great apps and sites made to assist us in finding veggie-friendly restaurant options nearby.
When traveling, try learning the local word for “vegan” and other useful phrases like “no meat,” “no animals,” “no fish sauce,” and so on.
Soy and man boobs.
Heck no. Soya contains exactly zero estrogen. And there is no evidence to it disrupting sexual development in humans.
Are carbs bad?
Highly processed and refined ones like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and white flour are.
But, complex carbohydrates found in whole plant foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains are extremely beneficial. They’re not only essential to a healthy diet, but they’re also the great majority of it.
So eat good carbs.
It’s not necessary to worry about consuming enough protein, calcium, omega 3s, or any other vitamins or minerals people seem to focus on so much when it comes to plant-based diets. Just make sure to eat a well-balanced diet and that’ll be better than 95 percent of people.
Basically, a well-balanced plant-based diet is:
• Fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, and beans
• Potatoes, bread, rice, pasta
• Water: lots of it!
B12 is a vitamin that aids the human nervous system, blood-cell formation, digestion, and brain function. It’s created by bacteria and therefore found in areas of bacterial growth, specifically dirt and soil—making it something we have to get through our supplementation and diet. And because it’s water-soluble, we need to replenish it every single day.
Vitamin D is also essential for healthy bones, teeth, muscles, and immune system function. And the main source of it is sunlight in contact with the skin. All in all, do what’s what best and, if something is off, go see a doctor.
Gas. So much gas…at first.
When replacing animal products with healthy plant-based foods, feeling different is unavoidable. It’s our body detoxing. Because, amazingly, it adjusts to the types of food we most commonly eat, and our gut bacteria optimizes for whatever it’s confronted with the most—no matter if it’s healthy whole foods or processed crap.
How much should we be eating?
If we listen to our body’s signals by only eating when we’re hungry—not when we’re bored or because food is around—as well as eating enough to feel satisfied and not full, we’ll be able to achieve and maintain our ideal body weight.
A plant-based diet becomes easier with each passing day—and soon days turn into weeks. Around the three-week mark is when most people find that it has become second nature and much easier to navigate. We have to make sure we’re giving ourselves the right amount of time to adjust and make sure we’re properly going about transitioning ourselves.
Know of anyone who can use this information? The please share it with them! Remember, sharing is caring!
Here is the trailer for “What the Health.”
Author: Gerry Warren
Image: “What the Health” Instagram
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis
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