UNITED STATES—For quite some time I have been thinking about going vegan. On occasion, I have actually done it, where I would completely give up red meat, pork and seafood. Yes, I know what you all are thinking, but what about chicken. Yes, I do indulge in chicken a bit simply because I need to have protein in my body. Now, anyone who knows me is well aware that I love, absolutely love, fruits and vegetables. I make it a weekly mission to hit the farmer’s mark to stock up on all things that are healthy.

The one problem with fruits and veggies is they don’t always have the longest shelf life, so consumption tends to be a problem for many. You gotta eat them before they spoil or begin to mold. Yes, I see this a bit more often with fruits than vegetables. It’s like when you have a taste for something, and you purchase more than you planned, but you forget to start consuming it.

However, I am seriously thinking about going full-blown vegan to implement a much healthier lifestyle, and I know it will not be easy. So for those considering a similar lifestyle plan as myself, you have to start off slow and then implement more vegan style dishes as time permits. I know people who are vegans and those who are semi-vegans. Yes, a full-blown vegetarian doesn’t indulge in any products that come from animals; they eat only plant-based foods. Those who skirt the line, might not consume meat, but indulge in certain dairy products and foods that some would say an actual vegan should not be eating.

So for starters, I’m eliminating all sugary drinks from the diet. I’ve accomplished this task in the past, but I indulge every so often and then a bad habit becomes part of the lifestyle yet again. Water, water, water, will be the consumption, in addition, to utilizing fruits and veggies to implement daily (probably twice a day) smoothies into my lifestyle adjustment. I like to experiment so the thought of making various smoothies with all types of fruits and veggies is absolute fun for me.

My toughest challenge will be creating dishes that involve just veggies, legumes, rice, pasta and ensuring things are tasty. It’s all about flavor, so if I can conjure up the right spices, oils and sauces, I don’t think I’ll have that tough of a job with sticking to a vegan diet. In fact, I’m starting to realize when I eat red meat, which is quite rare; I tend to get sick right away. It’s probably because I don’t eat red meat often, and when I do, my body takes a moment to adjust to having something that it hasn’t had in quite a while.

When it comes to dairy products that might be slight adjustment; I’m an avid fan of milk, eggs and cheese, so finding alternatives to those three won’t be easy, especially when you’re talking about someone like myself who loves all things breakfast. However, I’m going to do my best to make it happen. I like coconut milk, almond milk, but eggs and cheese is a different story.

Now pasta is an easy choice for me because I love it, and just implementing veggies into the mix will not be difficult for me. The biggest challenge of the hour while be utilizing legumes into the diet. Sometimes I like beans (more so with chili) versus just eating them solely, however, I do like chickpeas with a salad, or implemented with a bit of hummus. Love salad, so that is not a difficult one, the trick will be to ensure a different salad is crafted each day. No one likes to eat the same thing over and over again; that becomes boredom.

I think it’s very important that I get a cookbook and try to utilize whatever tricks I can to implement a healthier diet and really improve my overall health to where I feel good about myself and my body. Fast-food, you’re out of here; I started 2017 without eating fast-food for nearly 4 months. I felt great, saved tons of money and the body did not seem to miss those bad toxins or fatty foods. For those wondering, you might want to check out the documentary “What the Health?” That is not the reason I’m going vegan, but it definitely is an eye-opener when it comes to what you’re actually eating.