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How to Go Vegan (Step-By-Step Guide from a Fitness Coach)

How to Go Vegan (Step-By-Step Guide from a Fitness Coach)

‘I could never do that’.

This is the answer I mostly hear from people once I’ve told them that I’m a vegan. And the truth is: I thought the same way before. I’ve eaten meat my entire life – like most people. Maybe I even overdid it a little bit. I’ve followed the typical bodybuilding diet, rice and chicken with nearly every meal. This sometimes resulted in over 1 kilogram of meat a day.

This is not what I would consider a healthy meal nowadays, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have cared if someone told me so back then.

It’s now over two years that I’ve became a vegan and I haven’t looked back. If you want to know more about how I stay energetic being a vegan, check out my other article: How a Vegan Diet Keeps Me Energized, Mentally Sharp and Full of Drive

But here in this post, I will tell you what ‘going vegan’ really means, why it matters to you and the exact steps to take to become a vegan.

What going vegan really means

Rather than think of veganism as an identity, it makes the most sense to use it as a concept that inspires you to remove animal products from your life. Sometimes, it’s not fully clear whether a given food or cosmetics ingredient comes from animals, but you will get used to it pretty fast.

A vegetarian diet is commonly understood to forbid meat and fish, but to allow both eggs and dairy. The word vegan takes this concept to the next level, cutting out every item of animal origin. Vegan refers to anything that’s free of animal products: no meat, milk, eggs, wool, leather, honey and so forth.

Following such diet or lifestyle, as you may call it, brings three big advantages:

  1. Increasing the well-being of animals through the avoidance of their consumption (possibly a no brainer)
  2. Bettering your health by minimizing the exposure to possible pathogens (such as red meat, which is a known group-1 carcinogen)
  3. Helping the planet by reducing your environmental footprint (through the reduced CO2 emission and methane, which livestock, especially cows, produce)

No matter the degree to which you ultimately embrace the vegan concept, it makes sense to begin your transition by emphasizing dietary choices. Because the overwhelming majority of animal use associated with your life almost certainly arises from your food choices:

    How I started going vegan

    You may not believe me when I tell you that, but I loved the taste of meat. I’m not going to lie. I remember telling a friend of mine after going vegan that I’m just trying this vegan-thing out and that I’ll probably have to eat a Big Mac again soon and ‘treat myself’.

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    I was the guy eating chicken and rice out of the Tupperware, while everyone was enjoying the cafeteria lunch at work. My mother worried about me, because while everyone was busy eating dinner in our family home, I was the only one standing in the kitchen, cooking my bland turkey.

    I used to write down everything that I ate. I still have my MyFitnessPal entries from back then. Looking at them nowadays is shocking. 500 grams of low fat quark at 5am in the morning. 1 kilogram of unseasoned chicken on a daily basis.

    If you want to know the honest reason why I went vegan, the true reason for this dramatic shift – here it is: My girlfriend at that time gifted me a book called ‘Eating Animals’, by Jonathan Safran Foer. After devouring the book in less than a week and going through the following weeks of denial, I finally decided to slowly transform into becoming a vegetarian.

    After reading such horrific stories about the daily lives of animals in factory farms, it seemed like a logical next step for me. In retrospect it probably was the combination of love and the hero syndrome. I always wanted to be the one that does the right thing, even if everyone was against it.

    While I was contemplating if I should go vegan, I’ve felt like Neo in the Matrix. Choosing between living life with the bliss of ignorance or living life facing the brutality of reality.

      After making the decision to go vegan – to take the red pill – everyone in my social circle thought that I was going crazy. ‘You will lose all your muscles!’, ‘This can’t be healthy.’ and ‘You won’t last longer than two weeks.’, were things that I heard on a regular basis.

      If I wouldn’t have informed me thoroughly, I wouldn’t have been able to withstand all this negative criticism with facts and data. If I wouldn’t amassed the right knowledge before going vegan, I would’ve spitted out the red pill within a month. Or as in the Matrix – what a great coincidence – ate a traitorous steak.

        Going vegan reminds me of the crypto marketplace. Bare with me:

        I’ve made a couple thousand dollars with cryptocurrencies in the last year. Most people that I know have sold their cryptos for a loss or a minuscule profit. Because when the crisis hit, everyone has sold their stakes, disregarding the enormous potential behind it.

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        What made me able to make money of Ethereum and Bitcoin and co., was my knowledge behind the structures of the cryptocurrencies. The potential of the Blockchain, smart contracts and the problems in the financial markets that it might be able to solve. I’ve gained this advantage by reading a simple book.

        Until now this might’ve seemed like a far stretch from veganism. But you have to realize that in the life that we live in, there are very few things that are more important than knowledge.

        Is going vegan for everyone?

        A long-term transition to a healthier diet can be recommended to everyone in my opinion. But if you fit into one of these categories, you should not follow a complete vegan diet right now:

        • Pregnant women, with no experience of following a vegan diet before.
        • Suffering from a severe mental or physical illness, where your doctor is actively advising against following a vegan diet.
        • Suffering from intense stress. Like a burn-out or a recent break-up.

        If you fit into the previously listed categories, a drastic switch is not recommended in this moment as the short-term stress might harm you or others around you.

        If you still feel unsure whether or not you are fitted for the plant-based nutrition, visit a competent physician near you. You can find plant-based doctors in your area, by visiting PlantBasedDoctors.Org.

        A step-by-step guide to become a vegan

        I wrote down a step-by-step plan for you to slowly get drawn into this vegan journey. Before you know it, you’re already in a good routine.

        1. Ask yourself why you want to become a vegan

        You see me talking a lot about your ‘Why’. I can’t stress this one enough. Asking yourself ‘Why’ is so important. You have to know yourself, not just if you want to become a vegan, but if you want to live a good life. Introspection is a crucial skill that you have to develop.

        Start asking yourself the hard questions:

        • Why do I do what I do?
        • Why am I going to work?
        • Why do I want to follow a vegan diet?

        These questions will show you your motivations and give you a glimpse, of who you really are. They will also make achieving your goals much easier.

        2. Change your mindset

        My biggest ‘Why’ was simply my urgent need to live a life of self-control and integrity. I have a strong need to simply do what is right. After reading the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer,[1]

        I first tried to reject the information and forget what I’ve just read. But every freaking time I’ve eaten a chicken, I’ve felt guilty and shameful. I knew that eating meat would give me a lot of pleasure, but I also knew that one’s own primitive needs shouldn’t outweigh one’s morals and principles. I mean otherwise you could justify rape.

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          You have to change your mindset to the point when you realize that instant gratification should not be the epitome of your life. This shouldn’t sound woo-woo, but start to look at the big picture.

          3. Be prepared for resistance

          You need to know what you’re talking about when you’re becoming a vegan. Whenever you’re swimming against the stream, you will, by the laws of physics, face resistance. The only way to withstand this resistance is by preparation.

          Next to reading my articles on Lifehack and visiting my Youtube channel, I advise you to read the following books. These books alone will give you more knowledge about healthy nutrition than 99% of the general population. The big three are:

          • How Not To Die – A book with over 2,400 five star reviews on Amazon. How to prevent our leading causes of death with nutrition. All proceeds from the book go to charity.
          • Eating Animals – The ethics behind eating animals, as the book title says. The one book that made me go vegan.
          • The China Study – A book about the most comprehensive study ever done on the relation of diet and human health. A second book on health, as the biggest argument you will get into, regarding veganism, will be about the health aspects.

          4. Set a new standard for yourself

          After fool-proofing yourself with the necessary knowledge, your main goal should be to set a new standard. And the only way you’re setting a new standard in the long-term, is by making a sustainable transition.

          Eating plant-based is normal for me. I don’t feel restricted in any way, veganism means living a more natural and ethical life for me. My diet is full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, ‘plant-milks’, seeds and beans.

          I don’t wear fur nor any other animal skin. Not because I don’t have to, but because I don’t want to. I mean: I’d rather consider the place where I live, love and laugh a garden, not a cemetery.

          Going vegan also means saying no to immediate gratification and taking a look at the bigger picture. Going vegan signals self-control.

          By going vegan you’re setting your own gratification aside for the bigger picture. Be it for your health, the planet or the animals. You’re setting priorities and you show that you live a life of principles.

          5. Analyze your eating habits

          People often tell me that they have never eaten anything vegan. Which is of course complete bullocks. If you’ve ever eaten a banana, you’ve eaten vegan food. Chances are you’re already eating vegan to a pretty high degree.

          To find out to what degree, write down how your current eating habits look like. This may be tedious but this is golden. What do you eat from breakfast to dinner? Once you’ve figured out what you’re currently eating, you can think about how you can better your eating habits.

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          To make keeping track of your daily diet easily, I recommend you to use the app MyFitnessPal. It’s free and easy-to-use.

          6. Eat more whole-food, plant-based foods

          Instead of advising people to stop eating what they’re currently eating, I like to advise them that they should simply eat more of the good stuff. Research has shown that people even lose more weight when they’re advised to eat more veggies instead of being advised to eat less sweets. If you’re eating brown rice, broccoli and chicken for lunch right now, I’ll advise you to simply double the portion size of your broccoli and rice, while keeping the chicken portion the same size.

          After some time you’ll crave healthier and healthier foods. Making it far easier to eat good nutrition. You’ve developed a habit before you know it.

          If you want to know more about vegan foods, check out my other article that gives you 40+ vegan recipes ideas.

            7. Buy vegan alternatives

            After you’ve analyzed your eating habits, highlight the meals where you’re currently eating non-veggie. Meals containing meat, dairy, honey and cheese.

            Buy vegan alternative foods for these meals. Nowadays these vegan-foods can be found in nearly every supermarket. It’s absolutely easy to find alternatives. Like cheese on your pizza? Guess what, there are vegan alternatives for it. Always liked eating grill ribs? Yes, there are vegan grill ribs available. I’m not joking, the possibilities are nearly endless.

            8. Buy vegan clothes

            This is the last and hardest part. I don’t advise you to throw your current clothes away. Instead I’ll advise you to buy ethical new clothes. Pay special attention when buying jackets and shoes. You want to stay clear from wool and leather.

            The shoes are usually the trickiest part to find while being a vegan. Here’s a guide on your shoes, which are probably the hardest clothes to buy vegan:

            Going vegan can be easier than you might think if you simply follow these proven steps. Even if it may be challenging at some point, in the end, swallowing the red pill will be worth it, trust me.

            Reference

            [1] Jonathan Safran Foer: Eating Animals

            More by this author

            Florian Wüest

            Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

            Why You Should Keep a Fitness Journal to Jumpstart Weight Loss The Truth Behind Rapid Weight Loss and the Best Way to Shed Pounds How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss? How Vegan Bodybuilding Diet Keeps Hunger at Bay While Plant Based The Biggest Myth Debunked: The More Protein You Eat, the Faster You Build Muscles?

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            Last Updated on September 10, 2019

            7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

            7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

            Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

            Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

            This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

            One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

            Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

            Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

            1. Gratitude

            Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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            The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

            Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

            So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

            Gratitude-Quotes

              2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

              This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

              For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

              What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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              Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

              3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

              This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

              Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

              An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

              Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

              write down goals

                4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

                According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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                There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

                5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

                Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

                Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

                6. Rise Earlier

                The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

                For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

                So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

                Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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                7. Listen to Uplifting Music

                Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

                Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

                It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

                Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

                More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

                Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
                [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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