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Last Updated on March 6, 2018

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

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            Florian Wüest

            Qualified and experienced fitness trainer and online coach.

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            How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

            How to Control Your Thoughts and Become the Master of Your Mind

            Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

            Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality.

            I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

            You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

            Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

            When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

            I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

            Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

            Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

            Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

            1. The Inner Critic

            This is your constant abuser. He is often a conglomeration of:

            • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
            • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
            • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
            • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

            He is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

            Why else would he abuse you? And since “he” is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

            2. The Worrier

            This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

            He is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it.

            Occasionally, he is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

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            3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

            He is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

            He can be set off by words or feelings. He can even be set off by sounds and smells.

            He has no real motivation; he has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

            4. The Sleep Depriver

            This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

            His motivation can be:

            • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
            • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
            • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
            • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

            How can you control these squatters?

            How to Master Your Mind

            You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

            Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

            There are two ways to control your thoughts:

            • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
            • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

            This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

            The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

            Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

            For the Inner Critic

            When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

            You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

            For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

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            You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

            “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

            If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

            • He riles up the Worrier.
            • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
            • He is often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
            • He is a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
            • He is the destroyer of self-esteem. He convinces you that you’re not worthy. He’s a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get him out!

            Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

            Replace him with your new best friend who supports, encourages, and enhances your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

            For the Worrier

            Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

            Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

            You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

            • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
            • Muscles tense

            Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

            If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

            Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

            “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

            Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

            If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

            Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

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            Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

            For example:

            If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

            “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

            Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

            “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

            Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

            For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

            Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

            The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

            • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
            • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
            • Muscles tension

            I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

            Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

            Breathe in through your nose:

            • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
            • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
            • Focus on your belly rising.

            Breathe out through your nose:

            • Feel your lungs emptying.
            • Focus on your belly falling.
            • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

            Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

            Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

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            One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

            Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

            For the Sleep Depriver

            (He’s made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

            I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

            Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

            1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
            2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

            When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

            From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

            For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

            If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

            You can also use this technique any time you want to:

            • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
            • Shut down your thinking.
            • Calm your feelings.
            • Simply focus on the present moment. 

            Becoming the Master of Your Mind

            Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

            You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

            Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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