Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Transitioning to Veganism: Kitchen Overhaul

Once we decided to go plant-based, I knew there was no way that I could handle having any tempting foods in the house. I had just weighed in at my doctor's office at 30 lbs. more than the day I graduated high school. Things had to change and I wanted to succeed in my journey. I watched Forks Over Knives and immediately after, I walked straight into my kitchen and declared to my husband that I was going vegan.

My pantry and refrigerator was pretty much packed with non-vegan items. I had cans of beans with pork fat, junk foods out the wazoo, frozen foods and canned meals like you wouldn't believe. Luckily, our friend moved to Austin recently and didn't mind me handing over any items that I could no longer consume under a plant-based diet. Here are my tips for starting with a clean slate and make your pantry and kitchen plant-based friendly!

Clear a counter and pull out all non-vegan items. I know this sounds daunting, but you have to get into every nook and cranny. If you allow yourself a few of your favorite non-vegan items, you'll be setting yourself up for a relapse. It's best to pull out everything so you can really see what you've been consuming and how you can clear out some space for more whole grains, beans, veggies and fruits!

Junk foods are enemy numero uno. We had all kinds of little snack items that were completely processed and nowhere near healthy for us. I'm talking buttered popcorn, salmon dip, frozen pizzas and frozen dinners that I took to work. No more of that! Clear out anything with ingredients that you can't even pronounce. That's usually a good sign that it's not plant-based! Instead, you'll be eating healthier snacks, like homemade guacamole, spring rolls and spinach artichoke dip.

Donate all non-perishable items you can no longer consume. I wouldn't tell you to toss everything into the trash since that is wasteful, however there were some items that I realized I should never have been consuming, much less anyone else! I bagged up most of what we couldn't eat anymore and passed it along to a friend. You could also donate the items to a church or local food bank.

Rethink your freezer space. I always crammed meat in the freezer but despised cooking it. I guess I always had a vegan heart, but just didn't know it yet. Regardless, you need to clear out all the non-vegan items and make room for your next trip to the grocery store. Toss or give away foods such as meats, frozen dinners, pizzas, corn dogs, waffles, ice creams, etc. You'll be filling your freezer up with frozen fruits and vegetables that can come in handy for last-minute meals, smoothies and homemade vegan fruit ice cream.

Evaluate what's left. Don't worry, you've just made one of the biggest steps in your journey, which is purging the old foods from your life and discovering all of the new ones that will replace them. I know it's tough (I've been there), but now you have the opportunity to fill your kitchen with all of the grains, beans, veggies and fruits your little heart desires! Head on over to my post Vegan Diet 101: Where to Begin for a starter grocery list for some ideas on what to buy for a plant-based diet.

Looking to go vegan? Check out these related posts below!

Kelsey is a passionate vegan living in Houston, Texas, spreading the word about the benefits of eating a healthy, plant-based diet. She's also a minimalist enthusiast, a self-proclaimed financial guru of her household, and founder of The Little Red Journal.

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