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How to Go Vegan - In Seven Easy Steps

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Horse meat in beef Burgers? According to the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Tesco, Lidl & Aldi have been selling burgers that contain meat sourced from a horse. Really, what difference is meat from what we in the West consider a pet, and a 'farm' animal? After BSE and the horrors Jamie Oliver uncovered in children's so called 'happy meals', with formed meat sourced from all manner of parts of animals, not to mention the cost to health, surely now is the time to think about leaving our animal friends be?

A VEGAN BURGER

Is it hard to do? Many people want to give up or reduce their meat intake but they worry about how to replace, what has been for probably all of their lives until now, a majority factor of their diet. I don't come across many who are not interested in eating a healthier, cleaner diet. And who wouldn't like to reduce or cease their meat intake? Some people are afraid of giving up cheese, some don't know what to eat for breakfast if it isn't the customary (in the West at least) milk drenched cereal or buttered toast. All worry about their protein intake.

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There are seven simple steps to take. Like anything new, it gets easier after time. They are the simplest to embrace when that moment strikes, and you know you want to be healthier and turn to a plant-based diet.

1. Increase your intake of vegetables, especially green leafy veg and fruit. They will bulk out your meals, give you all the nutrients you need and help you to feel satiated. If you can, invest in a good quality juicer (about £100... will last you for years) and start every day with a green juice (kale, spinach, apple, ginger, turmeric, fresh beetroot, celery, cucumber, kiwi). That alone will make a HUGE difference to your health and energy levels.

2. Replace the dairy. Experiment with alternative milks and butters and cheese. I personally LOVE Kara coconut milk and find it very adaptable and versatile. Almond milk is delicious too as is quinoa milk. Make sure you buy unsweetened as you do not want to be adding extra sugar to your diet. Pure make a really great tasting sunflower spread. You can also do like the Mediterraneans and use olive oil in place of butter in many instances. How did I do it? This is exceptional to me and you will find your own way. The world of produced veggie cheese has come a long way. VEGUSTO and Daiya in the USA make delicious cheeses: Melty. Stringy. Garlicky. Strong. How ever you like your cheese. I challenge you not to like it.

3. Take it slowly. Transition. Back in 1999 I turned vegetarian and I began by using fake 'meats' in the meals I'd been used to in my diet. I really couldn't tell the difference in taste or texture in spaghetti bolognese or shephards pie. Instead of bacon sandwiches, I ate tomato sauce sandwiches (try it... don't knock it - you can even by and make fake 'bacon' bits). Typical meals were, pasta with fresh basil & tomato sauce, and used soy cream to make dishes like carbonara and pea and garlic cream pasta. I made my own gravy from flour, tamari sauce and vegan stock cubes. Back then I got into stuffing all sorts of veggies with mushrooms, garlic, brown rice and breadcrumbs. And a plate of caramelised roasted vegetables were never far from hand. Soups are extremely quick and easy to make and really satisfying. With the addition of beans and mushrooms I was getting all the protein I needed. I didn't feel like I was missing anything. In fact, I felt very pleased with myself. I saw navigating the supermarket labels to detect animal products as a detective investigation. I took to task with excitement the turning my old meals into plant based diners. By body was starting to show signs of thanking me too. My skin cleared up and I felt happier and more 'me'. I moved on from those meals and began to drop the need to substitute. I found great Indian dishes and many Middle Eastern dishes were vegan anyway, with bold flavours to satiate me.

4. For recipe ideas, go to your bookstore and buy a couple of vegan cookbooks. Or source free recipes online. You will be surprised how easy they are, AND delicious.

5.To save money and time - One really good tip as well is to make lots of food ahead. Get yourself some good quality food containers and make big batches of soup, sauces, stews, one pots, curries. Work out what you need for the week and freeze/chill the remainder.

6. Exercise. Even if it is just two ten minute walks a day. It will help your digestion, hasten the detox and make you feel empowered.

7. Drink AT LEAST eight large glasses of water a day. Be it straight from the tap (you can focus on the healthiest way to intake water at a later stage) or in herbal teas. If you don't like plain water then fill up a jug and add lime juice, sliced cucumber, fresh strawberries etc to flavour your water.

ADJUSTING

Your body may take a few weeks or even months (depending on how your diet was previously) to adjust. You may find yourself making more visits to the loo. Your skin may react as first as the toxins flush from your system. You may get a little windy as your digestion adapts. Take a dairy free probiotic pill daily (please no yogurt filled with sugar that claims to be probiotic and good for you!). An increased intake of fresh and uncooked foods (salads and fruit) will have all the enzymes you need to help you to cleanse your body and improve your digestion. DRINK LOTS of water in between meals.

You will feel better than I you ever have and develop a greater appreciation, not only for animals and your health but for the land and the things that foods that nourish you.

Good luck! And know that you have choices and they are yours to make. Support is out there (or here) if you need it. Your decision to go plant-based may be overnight or over several months. Your ongoing health and care of yourself and your environment is for life.

Need help? Go to aveganobsession.com

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