After a heart to heart talk with my doctor, where I expressed my desire to not be on lupus medication for the rest of my life as well as my desire to ‘feel normal’ again, she suggested a course of treatment that has proven successful for many patients with autoimmune diseases. She suggested eating a primarily plant based diet or what I call 95% vegan. Besides my many various vitamins, I am supposed to get most of my daily fuel from plant sources, but also avoiding processed foods. I don’t have to be crazy strict with the meat or dairy, I am allowed a 5% variance for things that can’t be avoided but essentially I am to adopt a vegan lifestyle. Studies have shown that a switch in diet such as this can sometimes ‘reboot’ a person’s immune system and provide a more stable level of energy. Sincerely, after feeling so drained and unlike myself for so long, her dietary recommendations seemed like such a simple solution and I gladly boarded the plant based lifestyle train and have not looked back. That appointment was exactly one month ago and that is how I became a vegan overnight.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. When I walked out of my doctor’s office that morning I admit that it seemed like a daunting task to tackle; just where do you begin? Luckily my doctor pointed me in the direction of some good vegan websites to help and I was off. I went to my local health food store and just meandered through the aisles, putting things in my basket that looked appealing or things that I wanted to try. In went sprouted bread, chia seeds, and plant protein powder. I guess it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be because I was eating healthy before the reboot. I had been eating lean meats and vegetables for most meals but wouldn’t bat an eyelash at downing a donut (or three). It was definitely a shift in thinking but it wasn’t impossible and that has kept me positive and happy. So for those of you pondering such a lifestyle change, I give you these 3 helpful hints to make your transition to a plant based diet an easier one.
1. You don’t have to go all the way. (Sage advice for most situations.) While I did go cold turkey, leaving myself that 5% has been a lifesaver. If I am cooking for myself, it’s easy to choose all the right ingredients. It’s when I have to find lunch at a random restaurant that I find the 5% coming in to play. Allowing a bit of bacon in a sauce or knowing that there’s egg in a muffin gives me flexibility and I don’t feel like every restaurant is out to ensure that I never eat a delicious thing again.
2. Pinterest is your friend.
I think you already knew this but it bears repeating. There are some amazing people out there who are creating delicious vegan recipes and sharing them on the internet. Sadly I can’t discover them if I don’t know their URL. Pinterest is an amazing aggregator, compiling all that goodness under one neat little hashtag. #vegan I started a board on my Pinterest if you’re interested. I’ve placed vegan recipes on there, as well as ones that could be made vegan rather easily.
3. Embrace your weakness.
Everybody has one food that they just can’t live without, mine just happens to be chocolate croissants and a cup of coffee. (Ok, that’s two.) I gave up coffee but figured out pretty early that if I was to maintain my mental stability with this diet I was going to have to come up with a full repertoire of vegan sweets. You’ll have to figure out what foods bring you ultimate happiness and then find a vegan alternative. If rack of lamb happens to be your comfort food, not sure I have any suggestions. Email me though, I’d be happy to help you brainstorm.