Today it seems as if the word vegan is a bad word, a harsh word, an angry hippie yelling at you for wearing leather while sipping their home-made kombucha. Veganism is so much more than that, it represents so much more than that. It’s a way of life, a movement, a set of values. A vegan is someone who abstains from using any animals products, including products tested on animals, products made of animals, and products made by animals. The idea behind this is that you wouldn’t appreciate someone forcing you to do something and them reaping the rewards, so why put animals through the same fate? Animals are living beings and cute as all hell- let’s be real, we’ve all seen those YouTube videos of those cows playing with a beach ball as if they thought they were dogs.
There are countless documentaries and videos on the benefits of eating plant-based, and there will always be countless videos on why that’s wrong- nothing in life is certain as you’ll always find someone who disagrees, whether they’re backed by science or just want to disagree for the sake of disagreeing.
One thing I think we can all agree on is that we all need more fruits and veggies in our lives.
We live in a society that is fast-paced, on-the-go, and sicker than ever, it seems. The more advanced we, as a society become, the more nutrient-depleted we become. It’s easier, more convenient and cheaper to grab some fries from any fast-food joint on the block, than it is to get your hands on a good quality salad, and this is the root of the problem. We’ve become so disconnected from the earth and our food, that we stroll the aisles of the grocery store picking up bags of this and packages of that, made with 20+ ingredients, when we’d only recognize probably 5 of them. That’s where this blog comes in-
5 Easy Things You Can Do On A Daily Basis To Move Closer To A Plant-Based Lifestyle
EAT FOODS FROM THE EARTH
This is most definitely not me telling you to go and eat a handful of dirt, but this is me telling you to focus on foods that come from the earth. Potatoes come from the earth, potato chips, however, do not. And yes, in theory, potato chips come from potatoes so someone, somewhere out there will probably argue that potato chips are from the earth but let’s remember how processed they are and for the sake of this tip, we’ll simply say focus on eating foods in their unprocessed form. Kale in a salad vs. heavily processed kale chips, tomatoes vs. canned tomato sauce, oven-baked sweet potato vs. deep fried sweet potato fries, etc.
EAT THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW
Let’s be clear here, we’re not talking about grabbing a bag of Skittles, we’re talking about fruits and vegetables that are rich in colour, filling your plate and your tummy. Dark leafy greens, orange carrots, colourful bell peppers, bright yellow lemons- natural, from the earth, colourful food that isn’t on an ingredient list with a “yellow #5” beside it. All these fruits and veggies have essential nutrients that are needed for basically every bodily function (vitamin A, C, K, potassium, iron, calcium, etc). From helping strengthen your eye sight, to helping your blood clot to fix a wound quickly, to acting as an antioxidant and fighting inflammation. You will not get the same level of help from sugar, chips, deep-fried foods, frozen dinners, etc.
BALANCE YOUR MEALS
Not physically putting them on a scale! I’m talking- having each meal/snack be balanced with protein, fat, and fibre to keep you feeling full for longer and to balance your blood sugar (aka control your cravings). A big struggle with moving towards a vegan diet is feeling hungry more often as vegetables simply don’t have the same amount of calories as a chicken breast, but if you make sure your meals are well-rounded, you’ll be less likely to snack, and more likely to feel good, full and nourished. Protein can come from tempeh, tofu, nut butter, nuts/seeds, chickpeas, beans, etc. Fat can come from avocado, olive oil, hemp seeds and fibre can come from fruit, vegetables, nuts/seeds, grains. Instead of having a banana for a snack, have a banana with almond butter and hemp seeds sprinkled on top!
WATER WATER WATER
I’ll always find an excuse to include drinking more water into anything I talk about. Now that you’re slowly cutting back on processed junk and reaching for whole foods, you’ll already be increasing your daily water intake as we get some from fruits and vegetables (think of how often you have to go after eating watermelon!), but it’s important to try to consciously include a few more glasses than what you’re already doing. This keeps things regular, keeps things flowing, helps with hydrating your body, but also with eliminating the toxins in your body. Fun fact- fibre binds to toxins (for removal) but without water, it’ll just stay put which is a no-no. We need water to keep everything moving (*wink wink*), so drink up!
DON'T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF!
Rome wasn’t built in a day! Just because you’re reading this blog post doesn’t mean that the vegan police will be outside your door tomorrow morning! Start slow, make small changes whenever you can and want to (opt for plant-based protein vs. the chicken option), and know that that is enough. If all you do is have one meat-free meal a day or a week, you’re doing your body, the animals and the planet a favour. Not everyone has to be 1000% vegan! Being more mindful of the kinds and quality of food you’re eating is one step in the right direction!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jess Pugh is the founder of The Lemon Water Life & is currently studying holistic nutrition. Her focus is on helping stressed millenials nourish & fuel their bodies through plant-based meal plans & holistic lifestyle practices. For more information on her offerings, feel free to reach out via her website or follow her on Instagram.