Tips on veganism for beginners

I get asked for tips on veganism a LOT, usually from beginners and/or people interested in eating healthy, vegan meals. As a result, I think compiling them into a single blog post would be useful, or so I hope!

Here goes:

  1. Do NOT treat eating a plant-based diet as an elimination diet, AKA what you used to eat minus the animal products. It will NOT work. You will have to completely revamp your paradigm of what constitutes as as meal. Anything else will run you into problems.
  2. Read, research, and experiment. Pick up cooking books, read blogs by other vegans, find out what they eat.
  3. Learn how to read labels. Dairy is sneaky, and you’ll find that when it comes to prepackaged foods they’ll like to slip in weird crap.
  4. Eat clean. Don’t be a “carb-an” and subsist mostly on bread, pasta, and rice. Fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans and legumes, non-GMO soy products, should all be awesome. If you have food intolerances to soy and/or gluten, give food like quinoa, lentils, and beans a shot.
  5. Don’t be afraid to screw up. Inevitably you’ll accidentally buy something that has honey in it, lactose, whey, whatever. Learn from it and move on.
  6. If you have a favorite food or recipe that isn’t vegan, find a fun way to “veganize” it! And don’t be afraid to give faux meats and faux dairy products a try. My personal favorites are from Gardein and Daiya respectively.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! 🙂 It’s part of the learning process.

Hope this helps!

Food for thought: making lifestyle changes, not just resolutions

I’ve spoken briefly in the past about diet and fitness not just being about losing a couple of pounds or gaining muscle, but about implementing important lifestyle changes. I can’t stress enough how important this is.

First of all, I don’t believe in dieting for weight loss. I believe in eating healthy and making the right choices for yourself. Dieting is an attempt at a quick fix, and quick fixes don’t work. They don’t teach you how to eat for maintenance, how to take care of yourself, the importance of food as fuel, and what nutritional values need to be met in order to achieve the state of being happy and healthy.

Too often we have unhealthy relationships with food and programming within ourselves set up that often sabotage our efforts to actively engage in a healthy lifestyle. This isn’t something to be ashamed of; this is part of being human. What we are raised with, what we grew up with influences us the most. What foods did we eat as children that made us feel good? What foods do we reach out for when we are sick, stressed, or otherwise not at our best? That’s all programming, and believe it or not, we CAN change that.

Change is scary. We like what’s stable and what’s comfortable. We don’t want to give up foods we enjoy, and many of us have certain foods we’re attached to or otherwise find difficult to give up. My food is chocolate. As a result, I choose to have a breakfast that contains a healthy meal supplement which is chocolate-flavored in order to get my fix, not be deprived, and find a way to have it that’s healthier than binging on chocolate chip cookies, cake, etc.

We can choose to make healthy substitutions versus giving things up. Swap out french fries for baked sweet potato fries, for instance. Instead of a cheeseburger, have a tasty veggie burger instead. I highly recommend Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Burger. It has an excellent texture, is juicy (something you don’t typically get in a veggie burger!), and incredibly tasty, and it has significantly less calories, less fat, and zero cholesterol.

You can also choose to enjoy your foods in moderation versus depriving yourself completely. When eating out, get your favorite slice of cake or pie to go and enjoy a few bites each day. You can even cut it into multiple pieces and have a small piece each day. Think of it as treating yourself.

We need to heal our relationships with food before we can achieve our goal of living a happy and healthy lifestyle. Food is necessary; it fuels our bodies for necessary functions and enables us to live, literally! Diets which require severe calorie restrictions and/or are nutritionally deficient may work at first, but ultimately will put your body into starvation mode. Too often people who carry extra weight are yo-yo dieters and eat too much food that lacks nutritional value and nutritional density. 1500 calories of junk food is NOT the same as 1500 calories of healthy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean sources containing high amounts of protein, nor will it be treated as such by your body.

People need to learn how to eat for the long haul, not for the short term. It means being patient and sticking to a plan that may not give you immediate or fast results, but will lead to better and greater changes down the road.


Need additional help and advice? I’m just a click away to become your fitness coach.

Me, Squee, and Shakeology

Me, Squee, and Shakeology :)


Starting the day off right, with my kitty Squee and some chocolate vegan Shakeology. 🙂

My personal recipe is one scoop of the chocolate vegan, 2 TB of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa, 2/3 cup frozen strawberries, and 1/4 cup frozen raspberries. Tastes like dessert and it’s all of 230 calories!

My breakfast is a liquid one for a number of reasons:

  1. It’s fast. I frequently don’t have much time in the morning before work, and this is the fastest way I can get my nutrition. Chocolate vegan Shakeology has 170 calories, 16g of protein, 5g of fiber and is packed with probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes with only 3g of fat. Plus, it gives me my chocolate fix. 🙂 Good start for my day!
  2. It packs enough calories in as little as possible while being healthy and nutritious. My stomach’s not awake at this hour either, and it’s rare that I wake up hungry. But I need my fuel! This gives me the fuel I need even if my appetite in the morning is lacking.
  3. It hydrates me, which is beautiful because in the mornings I frequently wake up mildly dehydrated. I often find that people think they aren’t morning people and wonder why they’re groggy, tired, spacey, can’t think straight, etc. Reach for the water versus the caffeine; those are signs you could be dehydrated.
  4. It’s tasty! Omnomnom. 😀

To learn more about Shakeology, go to my site at