Switching to a vegan diet is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I feel a lot better, I learned to cook a lot more (as a vegetarian I relied on pasta and pizza way too much) and I am somehow happier. While my hope is that more people will start to see how amazing veganism is, I also understand that it’s a huge, often daunting step for most. So, whether you want to cut out meat, but you’re just not ready, or you can’t fathom ever saying goodbye to steak – making five small changes to your everyday diet can make a big difference- in your health, your wallet, and the environment.
- Switch to non-dairy milk. In what seems like just a few short years, the variety of non-dairy milk choices has increased significantly. So much so, that the dairy industry is fighting to block dairy-free milk companies from using the term “milk”. The dairy industry is losing sales, and it’s clear why. Plant-based milk (whether its almond, soy, cashew, coconut, hemp, or one of the many other choices) is easier on the stomach, much healthier (it turns out milk does not build strong bones), and there are no cows harmed in the making. While you probably will notice a difference if you’re just drinking a glass, it will be hard to tell whether it’s plant or animal based if you pour non-dairy milk into your cereal or cup of coffee.
- Trade your butter for Earth Balance Butter. I used to have butter and toast every morning before work, so once I became vegan butter is the first thing
I had to find a replacement for. Thank god for Earth Balance! Earth Balance “butter” can be found in just about any grocery store, it tastes exactly like real butter (I have several non-vegan friends that can attest to this), it’s non-GMO, has 0g trans fat, and best of all – it’s cruelty free. Next time you run out of butter, consider buying Earth Balance brand instead. It’s a small change that goes a long way!
- Buy flaxseed meal. According to webmd.com, “King Charlemagne believed in the power of flaxseeds so strongly, that he passed a law requiring all of his subjects to consume it.” It turns out he wasn’t wrong to put so much faith in flaxseed – it’s filled with Omega-3 fatty acids and it has been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes. So how do you use it? Sprinkle flaxseeds on top of toast or add it to your morning smoothie- you will barely notice them, but you’ll still reap all of their benefits! Flaxseeds also make a great egg replacement (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal and 3 Tbsp water for each egg). Bake a cake using flaxseed meal instead of eggs and you can call it “healthy” ;).
- Switch to non-dairy ice cream at home. There are tons of dairy-free ice creams out there, and you no longer need to find the nearest Whole Foods to find one. You can find brands like SoDelicious and Ben & Jerry’s at most grocery stores. (Yes, you read that right. Ben and jerry’s now makes dairy free options of classic flavors!) If you have a Trader Joe’s near you, I recommend trying their Soy Creamy vanilla ice cream; it’s not as pricey as some non-dairy ice cream tends to be, and it comes in a bigger size! Dairy-free ice cream is just as good as the real thing, but there’s no animal products in it, so you can feel better about every bite.
- Meatless Mondays. You’ve probably heard the term “meatless Mondays”, but you might not have heard why it’s such a great step in the right direction. By skipping meat just one day a week, you can help reduce global warming and significantly improve your own health by reducing your risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
There you have it – five small steps that make a big difference. Let me know in the comments if you have any other ideas of small changes that move in the right direction!