Crowding, Not Cutting
Every person contemplating a switch to a vegan diet starts by wondering: just how hard is this going to be? Believe it or not, it’s all surprisingly easy. And not just easy but fun. If you follow my advice, your diet will become vastly more fulfilling. You’ll be eating better, feeling better, and you’ll become increasingly excited about having tossed animal products from your life.
I ate meat every day until I was twenty, and not just a little meat, either. Nearly every meal I ate was centered upon meat, heaping piles of the stuff, plus loads of gooey cheese and eggs. It would be hard to find a more unsuitable candidate for a vegan diet than I once was. But then one day I encountered a video showing cattle in a slaughterhouse. What I witnessed struck me as indefensibly brutal, and I was soon looking for ways to rid meat from my diet.
Later, as I learned about the cruelty in dairy and egg farming, I transitioned to a vegan diet. I know that to the uninitiated, veganism must sound like it takes incredible willpower, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve got to say, the amount of deprivation I feel is zero. That’s because my diet as a vegan is so much more diverse and delicious than the way I ate as an omnivore.
Even though it’s fun and easy to go vegan, you can still make things needlessly difficult. Here is the most common mistake that new vegans make: they switch to this diet believing that it’s all about discipline and cutting things out. They grit their teeth and give up hamburgers, cheese pizzas, yogurt, and a bunch of their favorite foods. And in place of all that, they eat celery sticks.
Well, that’s obviously a recipe for disaster. So let me suggest an alternative: don’t cut out non-veggie foods, crowd them out. Your main job throughout this transition will be to sample as many different vegan foods as possible. Will you love each and every one? Of course not. Some foods you’ll hate, others you’ll like, while still others you’ll adore. The more foods you try, the more you’ll find to love.
So, for the next few weeks, give yourself every possible advantage and make a point of not letting a single day go by without sampling several new vegan foods. There are all sorts of places where you can discover new vegan foods. Is there a veggie restaurant in your town? Some of these places are so good, and have so many great dishes, you’ll feel like you could eat there every day.
Or, perhaps there’s a Middle Eastern or Ethiopian restaurant near you. In these cuisines, almost everything that doesn’t include meat tends to be vegan. These choices are just the start of your options—See Chapter 15 for many more. If you like to cook, you’ll be happy to know that there are all sorts of fantastic vegan cookbooks, which we’ll explore in the next chapter of this book.
You can never go wrong by trying out new vegan foods. A month from now, foods that you currently don’t even know exist will be some of your very favorites. Consider my story: I’d grown up eating cheeseburgers—I loved them, and I ate them all the time. But one day a friend dragged me to a Middle Eastern place and I had a falafel sandwich on pita bread, and I’ve never looked back.
Until that day, I had never even heard of falafel, which turned out to be these incredibly great vegan meatballs made out of chickpeas, garlic, and chopped parsley, and fried golden brown. As I ate my first falafel sandwich, I thought: “Wow, this is so much better than a cheeseburger. Why would I ever eat a cheeseburger again when I could eat one of these?”
If you follow my advice, I guarantee that over the next few weeks you’ll discover a number of vegan foods that will rock your world, and all the animal products you grew up eating will start getting crowded out of your diet. Going vegan is not about deprivation, it’s about discovery! So keep reading and let me teach you the most important things I’ve learned about switching to a vegan diet.
Next Chapter: Cookbooks
Return to: Table of Contents
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