I am starting a new series of Monday posts. Welcome to Meatless Monday! I have been posting lots of food photos on my Instagram feed and would like a way to also share them here on my blog.
Towards the end of March 2014, I started eating a vegetarian diet. I was never a big meat eater, so overall the transition went smoothly. I could still enjoy lots of my favorite foods from chocolate to baked good to pizza. Inevitably some meat products still snuck in to my diet. Many soups are made with chicken broth, and meat can sneak in at restaurants and parties. My weight only slightly dropped because my overall diet was still similar.
By the holidays, I was becoming more interested in trying a vegan diet, but Christmas was not really the time to make a big change. I kept reading and gathering information, and since January 25th I have been working to follow a plant-based diet. I am seeing improvements in my skin and weight through this change. Since cutting out all animal products sounded restrictive, I follow the motto "Progress Not Perfection."
Where to Start
For me, vegan baking was a good place to start. I have been replacing oil/butter with applesauce and replacing eggs with bananas or ground flax even before becoming a vegetarian. I did not regularly keep eggs in the house, so these substitutions made sense to me. Another idea to start is by following "Meatless Mondays." Going meatless one day a week helps you try new foods and realize that some of your favorite foods are already vegetarian. I also prefer almond or coconut milk to cows' milk. I usually buy the unsweetened almond milk that only has 30-40 calories per cup.
I have learned that my diet changes can happily coexist with omnivores, including the two in my household. Throughout this process, I have cooked with less meat and animal products. (This does help lower grocery costs!) My goal is not to cook two different meals each night, so we have many flexible meals. The boys in my house do not drink the plant-based milk, but I can still cook and bake with it.
My biggest motivation is health and weight loss. I do not have medical or nutrition training, so I believe in researching information from trusted sources. I will link to a books below that I bought to start my plant-based, low-fat diet. I have also seen my doctor and had blood work done. I believe that they are a variety of ways to eat a healthy diet, and this way is working for me. I really enjoy trying new vegan recipes.
My secondary motivation is for our environment and animals. I will link to an organization below that has provided helpful information. I am finding that having multiple reasons for these changes helps them stick. I was able to turn down the cake and cheese pizza at a recent kid's birthday party.
Vegetarian Recipes: Picky Eater
Plant-based, Low-Fat Recipes & Information: Happy Herbivore
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
Books: Guide to Plant-Based Living & 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart
Animals & Environment: Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (I learned a lot from watching Katie's presentation.)
I still have a lot to learn and I keep reminding myself that it is about "progress not perfection." I will share more of my progress and pictures each Monday.
P.S. Good news - Thin Mints are vegan! I have indulged in some even though they are not low fat. ;)