Feeling Cheesy? Five Tips on Using Daiya Cheese (+ my own personal mac & “cheese” recipe)

Hello fellow & future vegans!

Today I wanted to write about something that many people consider to be the biggest obstacle towards going vegan: cheese.

Now I totally understand this sentiment. I used to feel the same way myself. Cheese is in a lot of our favourite comfort foods, so to imagine these comfort foods without cheese is hard (although there are some truly chilling facts out there about the dairy industry that make it harder to enjoy cheese). Luckily, there are so many ways to remake your favourite dishes without using real cheese! And the more time you spend as a vegan, the more you discover that you don’t have to sacrifice anything. There are so many fun ways to replace dairy or meat in any recipe! For cheesy dishes, a very easy option is Daiya cheese. I love using Daiya products to create a dish that has that cheesy feel, without being actual cheese. Read on for some of my favourite ways to use Daiya products!
Continue reading “Feeling Cheesy? Five Tips on Using Daiya Cheese (+ my own personal mac & “cheese” recipe)”


“Self-Righteous” Vegans & How to Avoid Being One

Even though being a vegan can feel lonely on occasion (after all, I’ve still run into people who have no idea what being a vegan entails), the vegan community on YouTube is a thriving world all on its own. There is a virtually endless list of vloggers who dedicate their channels to showcasing the accessibility of vegan cooking, promote cruelty-free living through vegan clothing hauls and debunk nutrition myths surrounding veganism.


Take FreeLee the Banana girl. I admire her enthusiasm and commitment, yes, but it can turn people off of veganism when you eat more bananas than anyone would want to consume in a lifetime and act like the primary reason to go vegan is to attain a certain type of body. She would probably argue that since she gets millions of views, she is still bringing attention to veganism. But… at what cost? How many people view these kinds of videos and then click away to the next video, but now with the impression that vegans are crazy people who advocate things like “monomeals” or avoiding all oil at all costs?


Great. Yeah, join veganism, where you are expected to eat 70 bananas a day!!!


The stereotype that vegans are “intense” by nature of their diet and lifestyle is not exactly being helped by vegan YouTubers who create videos promoting an inaccessible diet and engage in mean comments back and forth with their viewers. They are perpetuating a reputation that is hard to shake off. That means it’s up to us – the normal folks who eat a normal amount of bananas – to promote veganism as a non-judgmental way of life.

Let’s get into some example interactions. One of the biggest questions you may get with your veganism is just the plain old, “But… why?” Now I definitely think that you can offer personal reasons that really stuck with you – for example, I never question veganism as a way of life for me because I truly feel best when I live this way, and I do tell people this – but it’s also been helpful to include a disclaimer that you don’t have to be 100% vegan to start feeling this way. I often just suggest cutting out dairy, or red meat, or chicken as some first steps. It’s easier for people to digest (pun intended) this idea than if you were to say, “The only way in which you will feel as wonderful as I do is if you throw out everything that isn’t vegan in your fridge.”

The same goes for those who went vegan for environmental reasons. Without a doubt, one of the most momentous ways you can benefit the planet is to stop eating beef, but even just to eat less beef. So if you happen to be talking to someone who seems most convinced by the environmental arguments, but still considers veganism itself to be very extreme, try suggesting for them to cut down on beef instead. After all, let’s face it: when someone asks you why you are vegan, you can only talk for a few minutes before you start to seem crazy, and at the end of the day, it would be better for the planet if 50% of people consumed less beef than if 2% of people became vegan.

Ultimately, we do need to keep in mind that while being vegan is, in my clearly unbiased opinion ;), the best way to help the environment and animals, there are also many ways to help the environment and animals that do not include being vegan. You won’t be able to change everyone’s mind about veganism through one conversation, but you can introduce facts and information in a light that may trigger a new way of thinking for them down the road.


Vegan Breakfasts



People often ask me what I eat for breakfast as a vegan. Surprisingly, breakfast is one of the easiest meals a day as a Vegan!

  • Cereal with almond milk and berries.
  • Toast with peanut butter, almond butter, jam, etc.
  • A vegan muffin with apple slices and avocado
  • Oatmeal with raisins, nuts, fruit, etc. (this option is perfect for a cold winter morning!)
  • Salad! sometimes in the summer or late spring, salad with fruit tastes amazing for breakfast. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! It also feels great to know you’ve started your day with a big serving of greens.

*Just having any food you want instead of a “breakfast food” also works. Who says breakfast needs to be cereal, toast, or bacon and eggs?

Sometimes there are also those days where you miss the kind of giant greasy breakfasts you used to have. Its not that you crave actual bacon and eggs, but you want that experience of having a warm, savoury, and slightly greasy breakfast. Well you totally still can have that! I don’t expect run of the mill diners to be offering great vegan breakfasts any time soon (though you can hack the menu to come up with great options!) but you can make delicious vegan breakfasts for lazy weekend mornings at home, which also means you don’t have to change out of your pyjamas or even try to look presentable.

Here are my favourite deluxe vegan breakfast ideas:

  • Garlic sautéed avocado with caramelized onions on toast, baked sweet potato hash browns with coconut oil, sea salt, and whatever herbs you like (i suggest chipotle and rosemary), crispy fried mushrooms, and some toast (you might want to use earth balance if you really want that diner experience). And then some crispy maple bacon tempeh! To make it lower in calories: use a teaspoon of oil, for the tempeh and avocado, have 1/4 baked sweet potato with no oil,  add onions, tomato, zucchini to the dish to add low calorie volume, don’t have toast, etc.
  • Instead of a BLT, have a TAT, aka tempeh, avocado, tomato. And of course you could add lettuce for some crisp and also some crispy baked mushrooms which make any dish better! I prefer to eat this open faced because I can savour it more that way. And you definitely should mash the avocado because it holds the sandwich together that way.
  • English muffins, tofu scramble,  potato hash-browns, and vegan sausages.I recommend cooking the vegan sausages with a little maple syrup!

These suggestions are delicious, cruelty free, and even though they are not super low calorie, its certainly far lower in saturated fat than typical diner meals.

Here are just a few quick suggestions on eating breakfast at non vegan friendly places:

  • If they serve omelettes, they could easily just make you a veggie sauté with hash browns
  • Grilled tomatoes on toast is possible for pretty much any restaurant.
  • Then there is always the standbys like oatmeal. Since oatmeal is pretty plain at typical eggs and bacon style diners,  you could add peanut butter and jelly to your oatmeal or ask for some fruit. If they serve berry pancakes you could ask to have some berries in your oatmeal.

Hope this was helpful to someone out there! What are your favourite vegan breakfast options?

Until next time!


3 Tips You Must Know Before Transitioning to a Plant Based Vegan Lifestyle

animals are with us not for us

So you have recently become aware that becoming a vegan can benefit your health as well as the health of the planet,all while saving hundreds of animals every year! You are probably pretty convinced by this point that you at least want to give veganism a try or even just cut back on meat and dairy. Now you are wondering how to do this. I thought I would share my top three tips for transitioning to a plant based diet.

  •  Do not expect yourself to become a full on vegan overnight! Try to not beat yourself up over mistakes. Maybe start out by only being vegan at home, then gradually in restaurants, and then letting your family and friends know that you are now a vegan. Before letting your family know, mentally brace yourself and be prepared to argue against the most illogical of arguments (No, plants are not sentient beings. Yes, I am easily able to get enough protein. No, I do not judge you for not being vegan as well  No. I am not wishing I could have some of your steak right now.) There is no such thing as failure when you begin experimenting with this. Even if you only ever managed to slightly cut down on beef alone you would be doing a wonderful thing for our planet. The amount of water to produce 1 pound of beef is equivalent to the amount of water you would save if you stopped showering for 3 and a half months!
  • Start with cutting out whatever will be easiest for you to cut out first. For me this was milk, then red meat, then chicken, then seafood, then cheese, and only after I successfully cut those things out did I begin to worry about hidden animal ingredients in products. It is better to take a year to consciously reduce the animal products in your diet than it is to go vegan overnight, find it completely restrictive, and go back to your normal diet. Personally, I took months to transition into veganism. I actually consciously held myself back because I knew that it was best for me to move slowly.
  • Find ways to order vegan dishes at your favourite restaurants. This can be much easier than you would think! Sure, every once in awhile there will be somewhere with pretty dismal vegan options. But overall it can be pretty surprising. I discovered one of my favourite takeout dishes at a French restaurant that I thought would never have any good vegan food. I was also happy to realize that my favourite sushi place was willing to modify almost any roll to make it vegan. Asparagus tempura and mango dynamite roll anyone? Its awesome how you can actually create vegan alternatives that you enjoy way more.
  • Find new ways to satisfy yourself! Don’t expect to become vegan and also capable of denying your cravings for treats once in awhile. This is really important to prioritize because nobody deserves to feel deprived while making a change that is better for their health and for the planet. Instead of dairy ice cream, there is coconut ice cream, which many people find even more delicious. There are a few vegan chocolate bar brands you can stock up on. And it is really easy to cook yourself vegan desserts at home in ten minutes or less! As for those cheese cravings, which are many people’s greatest obstacles for going vegan, you will find that you can satisfy yourself just as easily with another savoury, warm, and melted snack. If this still doesn’t work, reminding yourself that cheese contains a legally allowable limit of pus will usually do the trick! There are also vegan cheese replacement products like Daiya as well as many delicious recipes for nut based vegan cheeses.

These are the main tips that are most important to help you get your transition to a plant based lifestyle started off right. If you found this helpful, please share it!


No More Starbucks Seasonal Drinks for Me

So I’m at a crossroads, guys.

I love Starbucks. Nothing turns my day around like a sweet, warm, velvety Caramel Brulée Latte. And the red cups that are parading around campus lately? They’re so dang charming (putting the whole where-is-any-indication-of-Christmas controversy aside).

But, I recently learned something that rattled me pretty hard. These cups are not recyclable because they actually have a plastic component to the seemingly cardboard material. The sleeve and the lid, sure, recycle away. But the bulk of your drink’s package? You’re out of luck.

Apparently they’re “working on it” and encourage us to work on it “with them” by bringing our own travel mugs.

Don’t put this shit on us, Starbucks! The whole page on their recycling initiatives comes across as lazy and profit-hungry. If they truly were concerned about their environmental impact, the very cups that tote around their profits all day would be addressed.

This isn’t, however, meant to be a Starbucks rant. It’s meant to underscore the fact that I’m changing my habits, even my beloved ones, because those habits are shitty.

It’s not necessarily that I can’t drink Starbucks lattes/holiday drinks/delicious liquid desserts anymore. It’s that I won’t. And I think that’s an important difference. We have the ability to go about our routine everyday without once considering the social and environmental implications of these behaviors, but we also have the ability to change these behaviors. It’s our will, and our prerogative, to do better for our Earth. So, no, I don’t need a damn drink so much that I’m willing to blindly disconnect myself with the environmental waste that the cup imposes.

It’s the same with a burger. Or a hunk of chicken. I don’t need either of these things so desperately that I’m willing to put the amout of manufacturing, processing, and resources that it took to get to the plate in front of me aside.

Change is uncomfortable, but it’s less uncomfortable than knowing that my stupid need for an extravagant holiday drink is contributing to a load of stinky garbage somewhere – dampening someone else’s quality of life and harming my sweet planet at the same time.

What do you guys think? Are there any things that you’ve given up once you knew about their impact on the environment?

Pce n’ love,


Anthropocene: Will We Finally Accept a Vegan World?

The Anthropocene sounds like some sort of prehistoric dinosaur, right? That, or a terrifying skin condition, something you want to scrub away at every night. Well, it’s neither of those things, but, it’s a heck of a lot scarier than both of them.

The Anthropocene refers to the period in time we’re living in now – the period in which humans are the main determinants of the environment. Today, there are 7.2 billion of us and counting, each of us programmed more or less like the other – driven by selfish mechanisms to survive. Being selfish isn’t a bad thing, necessarily; it’s human. No one is born, and looks up to their mom thinking, “How can I help this woman survive?” Hell no! Before we can even articulate the words, we’re thinking, “Where the f*** am I? I just want my food back, and my cozy warm cocoon back, dammit. You, woman, strange creature staring down at me, provide me with food.” Terrible cries ensue, and our mothers’ hearts melt. Just like they’re supposed to.

The human species is a selfish one, and we should thank our selfishness for our existence today. Without it, there would’ve been a couple selfless humans that just kept giving and giving to the creatures around it and *poof* humans would have had an even smaller mark on our Earth’s history than we do today (we’re just a blip still anyway… right?).

But today, our selfish tendencies need to be seriously challenged. We aren’t just talking about eating-all-of-your-sister’s-candy selfish. This is destroying-our-planet-so-we-can-have-everything-we-want selfish.

As humans, we are truly being barbarically selfish.

Think about it. We are the only species on Earth that dictates the direction of our environment, our choices now implicate the planet itself, and every little (and big, and massive, and microscopic) creature on it. So it’s fucking scary that our selfishness is becoming increasingly wasteful and crippling to our environment. Shouldn’t it be going the opposite direction? As the one species that is now literally shaping a planet’s future, why aren’t we pulling the plug on our selfish mindset and beginning to think about the other creatures around us? Or, if we truly are selfish, why don’t we think about the fact that our home is going to be destroyed if we continue to cripple the environment? In my mind, it’s because selfishness and our ignorance – our lack of attention paid to anything that doesn’t somehow direclty affect us – didn’t have the same astronomical weight as it used to have.image

Think about it this way: back when my great-great-great-great grandmother was kickin’ it – Lydia Morrell Harris Babbitt, to be precise – it was roughly 1790, and she was just a young thing. She ate lots of beans, some meat, some milk, some bread, fish. But then again, she didn’t have a fridge, nor electricity nor a car. Her carbon footprint was itty bitty. And every single one of her neighbours was the same.

Now? Every Canadian family lives “like their neighbours” too – eating roughly 110 pounds every year of red meat and poultry, and has one of the highest carbon footprints per person in the world. Yikes.

Where does our apathy come from? Dipesh Chakrabarty has a theory – we just weren’t evolutionarily wired to care about the environment. Historically, no matter what we did, the environment just acted as a background to the more frequently, and more exciting, human affairs happening.

Now that we’re comfortably (scarily) situated in the Anthropocene, where these human affairs are changing the environment, maybe we will finally begin to confront the unavoidale role humans have, every human, in restoring the environment.

That’s why I have little patience lately for people who blame convenience for why they’re not vegan, or their health, or their satisfaction of food. “Oh, I’m a foodie!” That’s not a reason. I am too! And sure, there are exceptions, but usually, let’s be honest, there aren’t.

Change is not going to be comfortable, but it’s necessary. We are in such a scifi reality right now – humans can alter the environment by what they eat and what they buy and how they get around their city. That’s one crazy unfortunate superpower.

Or is it?

Let’s make this anthropogenic superpower AWESOME. Let’s SAVE the Earth with this superpower.

And guess what? You can start shaping the Earth by choosing a frickin’ veggie burger over a beef burger. It’s a pretty easy superpower to wield.

Peace & love,


Vegan During Exams

It can be a huge challenge to be vegan during the exam period! The past week I had a very difficult time remaining balanced. Instead I did not eat enough and when I did I didn’t put in much effort so it was unsatisfying. Or I just relied on takeout which was obviously satisfying but probably not the best brain fuel! Some of the “meals” I made in the last week are shamefully awful… I don’t want to keep repeating this bad eating cycle so I made this list of ways I plan to be healthy during exams. Thought I would share it in case anyone else is in the same boat.

  • Start the day with one of my three favourite breakfast salads!

1.) 1/2 a diced apple, 2 tbsp walnuts, whatever kind of greens I have, 1 tbsp dried cranberries, vinaigrette dressing

2.) Mango or strawberry avocado (1/2 avocado)  salad with vinaigrette over lemon juice (doesn’t need a dressing cause of the mangoes)

3.) Avocado and hemp seed salad. I use about 2 tbsp hemp seeds.  I like to eat this salad with “vegan caesar dressing” which is made with cashews (soaked overnight), nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and garlic. I just put those ingredients in the magic bullet. Its very good cause the salad would be a little boring otherwise.

  • Make easy staples ahead of time. On Sunday night cook a bunch of lentils, start soaking some chickpeas, and make a big pot of brown rice! And of course make sure the fridge is stocked with tofu and tempeh:) My favourite vegan staples!
  • Rely on easy dinner staples, like pasta based meals.  Pasta is very quick to make and it is filling and comforting after a long day.
  • Eat healthy snacks throughout the day, even if I don’t necessarily feel that hungry. During periods of stress, its common to not even realize you are hungry until suddenly you are in a terrible mood and have lost the ability to focus. I really do so much better when I eat snacks throughout the day and this is even more the case now that I am vegan.

Another thing I will focus on is to keep doing the things I enjoy. I should still go to yoga and take relaxing baths, and drink tea and things like that because it all plays a role in keeping me balanced. I hope these tips were helpful! If you have any great tips for remaining balanced in times of stress, feel free to let me know in the comment section!


The Vegan Experience at Thanksgiving

This past weekend, I had a delicious and gratitude-filled vegan Thanksgiving… for the most part. Here, I reflect on my experience of being a vegan so far.

Before I sat down at the dinner table, I was reflecting on how grateful I am to be vegan and to have the support of my friends and family. It is such a beautiful thing to see the change that just one person can create. I used to be one of those people who would scoff at the thought that one person can make a difference. Do shorter showers really do anything? Not really. It helps, but… not really. But by going vegan, or just cutting down significantly on animal products, one person can make a HUGE difference. That inspired me, and still inspires me, to no end.

It’s hard not for the facts to spill out of me here. I’ll offer up just three for now:

  • You can save more water by not eating a pound of beef than you will save by not showering for a year. (World Watch Institute)
  • You save 198 animals a year by going vegan. (PETA)
  • A vegan lifestyle influences the people around you. (Me)

The last one might not be backed up by hard facts and numbers, but in my experience, it’s just as true as the others. What’s difficult is that this influence isn’t always, at first, positive. Some people get annoyed when a vegan discusses why they’re eating and living the way they do. I think that there is a collective consciousness in circles of people that love each other, and so my awareness of the immorality of eating meat will extend to my family… whether they like it or not. Whether they choose to change their actions or not, they will likely be a little more conscious of their consumption of not only meat, but animal products.

I do not expect all my friends and family to become vegan. In my first attempt in becoming vegan, which ended terribly, I became aware of the horrors of factory farming. I was angry and disgusted, but, truly, I didn’t get the whole picture yet. I think it was actually through practicing yoga that I finally registered what they meant by “we must have compassion for all living things”. Yoga is known for communicating with us through metaphors, but this is literal. All living things means all living things.*

When my teachers would say this, I felt like it was just skimming the surface. Once I began to fully comprehend this reality though, I am trying to see every living thing, more and more, as a brother or sister. I can’t say I actually feel this way yet, but it is always going to be a goal to get to that point.  But some people can’t even understand this argument. We do not get to decide where to draw the line at what living beings deserve our respect and compassion.

I realized that in this case following my gut, which told me it was wrong to eat meat and going through the actions of doing this even if I did not totally comprehend it on a moral level the way I do now, led to me having a much deeper understanding of what it means to practice compassion. You don’t have to be all the way there to start, you just have to start and then your mind will follow. There is definitely no going back now.  I used to think I would be tempted to eat meat all the time. I am now at the point where I truly cannot imagine sinking my teeth into the seasoned flesh of another sentient being. To me, it has become barbaric. We are no longer in a living situation where we need to kill other living beings for sustenance.* So while the angry vegan stereotype annoys me, there is some small part of that stereotype that is unavoidably true. I feel anger because of the way I see the world so much differently than those around me. But I know that I see it much more clearly, at least for myself and what I am meant to be seeing. And so while I am grateful for that… I am saddened that it seems like everyone else is, sometimes willingly, wearing a mask to the reality around them.

I thought this picture symbolized how I was feeling for the wolves, but polar bears deserve our love too! Source

But, mostly, I am grateful for this newfound vision. I remember driving down a highway and seeing a sign that was advocating for the protection of wolves. The next sign was an advertisement for a hamburger. How can we put one animal on a pedestal as beautiful and majestic while the other animal is almost expected to be ground to a pulp between two buns ready for our consumption?

Just because we have normalized something does not make it okay. Slavery was once normal too. Back then, slave owners may have thought of themselves as good people; they just thought that being a good person didn’t extend to other races. Again, we do not get to choose where to draw the line. We cannot continue eating the way we do. We can either stop the consumption of animal products, or we can perish as an ignorant, self-serving civilization.

All animals deserve the same level of compassion and respect. My point with the wolf and cow example goes off of this. While wolves are endangered, and their conservation is tremendously important, I also think that we need to realize that the same behaviours that are causing the endangerment of wolves is stemming from the same attitude that is making us feel like it is okay to eat meat. Wolves are endangered because of behaviours like hunting and clear cutting land to make room for agriculture. Many ocean animals are endangered because of fishing with giant nets that sweep everything below, including sharks and whales.

These endangered creatures die because of our belief that cows, chicken, salmon, and trout (for example) do not deserve compassion; instead, we believe they deserve to be eaten and they are on this earth for us. They are on this earth for us in a way because our environment would fail without them. They are not on this earth for us to eat. They are here for us and with us.

8d7d54ef57c4e875895876cbfa3a00ceAn interesting link between wolves and cows was brought up in an article on Mind Body Green. In 2012, a bill was proposed in Michigan that would allow people to start hunting wolves again. The reason for this was supposedly that wolves were frequently attacking cattle. Well, this already seems hypocritical and stupid because obviously farmers could just put a little more effort into protecting the cattle. Clearly this is just an excuse to allow hunting and for farmers to make money. I don’t understand what the thought process would even be here. After reading the whole article I learned that of the 149 cows that were killed, 96 were killed on a single farm, with their rotting carcasses left to attract wolves.
All animals are equal. The massacre of those cows is just as awful as the wolves being lured and hunted. If we took care of cows, we would see that they are beautiful and intelligent animals. They love their children and are driven to be happy, just like your family pet wants to be happy – in their own way.

It’s interesting to see how each person approaches veganism differently. My dad has drastically cut down on meat consumption since my shift to veganism (and my constant nagging that he needs to watch Vegucated), and he said that despite all of the environmental arguments I’ve posed, the only one that resonated with him was thinking: how would he feel if someone made a hamburger out of our dog, Hershey. It makes me so happy and proud of my dad that he was able to lift up some of the mask, and see compassion for all living things. Another little boost of happiness was when I discovered an internet tab on his computer for “how to make vegan breakfasts”. Now, he’s been cooking up all of these delicious vegan recipes for the family. Recently, he also said that steaks just aren’t the same to him anymore. It simply couldn’t taste the same because he has now become aware of the lived realities behind that hunk of meat. I don’t think my dad will never have another steak again, but I do know that once you have become aware on a deeper level about the reality of meat consumption and animal products, you will be suffering a little bit inside every time you eat meat.

Back to the notion of gratitude… Thanksgiving definitely has its challenges as a vegan. Food wise, it can be tough if you are having dinner at a table where they are not knowledgeable about veganism. It’s also just difficult to be at an event where meat eating is so normalized. In these moments, it’s hard to remember to be grateful instead of angry! For example, I couldn’t help but feeling annoyed when my family for some reason decided to discuss how many of them think hot dogs are delicious. I was even more annoyed that I am somehow seen as being pushy and mean to them if I point out that hot dogs contain lips and assholes and are completely disgusting on top of being morally wrong. I feel like there is this unspoken law that vegans are supposed to just let others remain ignorant about their food choices and never get angry or else they are labelled as mean, angry vegans. Suddenly it’s all about their choices and they choose to eat hot dogs and nobody can make them feel bad about it because it’s their choice. Why is it so acceptable that people are allowed to make choices that take away the choices of others?

Someone even said to me that me being a vegan doesn’t mean I am more moral than them (believe me, I had not even remotely suggested this to be the case). I cannot claim to be a more moral on a general scale, no. But in terms of eating, my choosing to not eat animals that have been killed for my consumption makes me a more ethical eater than someone who does not. It’s not my fault that pointing that out makes someone else uncomfortable with the hypocrisy of their own beliefs. I know that I really need to get better at controlling my anger and remember that I can’t control whether people have the ability to open their eyes to what I am saying. But I really am grateful for those who do.


*Recently someone said the whole bit, what about plants? They’re living! Here’s a brilliant response by my hero, Will Tuttle.

*Some cultures around the world do need to kill animals to survive.

Vegan Tips

Hello to anyone out there who might one day read this 🙂 I am very new to blogging so I’m not really trying very hard to get views or anything until I improve my skills.

Here are some tips for a successful transition to Veganism and just ways to live happily as a Vegan!

1.) Stay motivated and informed. It is easy to “commit” to veganism after watching a heart wrenching documentary about it, but you have to remember that although that documentary was a very intense and possible life changing 90 minutes of your life, it was just 90 minutes, and routine, habit, nostalgia, and the influence of family and friends is remarkably strong. My advice is to watch all the vegan documentaries you can find. I’d also recommend going to the library and getting out books about veganism. My local library is pretty small and I was pretty thrilled to see the great selection of vegan books. In the beginning of my transition to a vegan diet, I did sometimes find it challenging, and in those times, I’d make myself a healthy vegan meal and rewatch vegan documentaries. I am actually watching most of my favourites for a second time now. They can just be playing in the background as you get ready  for your day or fold your laundry or something. I found that rewatching these documentaries helps me to memorize the arguments for veganism as well. So far, I have absolutely destroyed all arguments meat eaters have tried to hit me with since going vegan (even if they sometimes didn’t seem to realize it). However, nothing seems to convince meat eaters that eating a plant-centric diet is doable more than cooking them delicious vegan food! Which brings me to my next point…

2.) Cook people delicious vegan food! I took very little time to get the hang of vegan cooking, probably because even as a meat eater I found preparing meat disgusting, so I have always been pretty creative with cooking dishes that have no meat in them.  It is so important to remember that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. A lot of people don’t realize that you can create delicious meals without anything having to die for it. When I first became vegan, my brother thought vegan food was disgusting, and would turn his nose up at anything I made. However, when my sister Miranda and I made a key lime vegan cheesecake for dessert at a family birthday dinner, everyone loved it! Even my brother, who made a big show before the dinner of not wanting to have any of it because its “weird and vegan”, eventually silently ate the entire thing and admitted it was delicious.  Nowadays, he is not a vegan, but he realizes that vegan food can be delicious, and even recently tried some vegan meat when out for dinner with his friends. A year ago, that would never have been something he’d ever have done! Also when going to dinner at people’s houses, it is a good idea to cook your own dish to bring and share. It could be seen as rude to just say “Oh by the way i am a vegan now” and expect your host to know how to accommodate you at last minute.

3.) Do not be embarrassed to be different because of your vegan diet. You should be proud that you are doing something unique and helpful to the planet!

4.) If you stop being vegan for awhile, that doesn’t mean you can’t take some time to regroup, identify what went wrong, and try again in a month of two. I personally took two tries to go vegan! In fact, that experience is definitely something I will have to blog about later! In my first try I pretty much did everything wrong. One of those mistakes I made was being weirdly embarrassed to “create a stir” or hurt people’s feelings by telling them I am vegan. I can be quite a shy person, but when I think about how animals have no voice at all, I can overcome that shyness. As someone (I do not know who), once said, if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything. To me, animal welfare is an issue I simply must take a stand for.

4.) Do not be a perfectionist! Your diet does not need to be perfect, especially as you are learning to be vegan. It really bugs me when people are able to find every possible flaw in a vegan diet yet eat a completely regular western diet which we know is pretty terrible for our health and for the planet. For example, people seem topick on tofu a lot! They say that because it has soy it can mess up your hormone levels. But meat and dairy is full of hormones! Milk is so full of hormones that most dermatologists say it is the number one food to stop consuming if you want to get rid of acne. Anyways, the point is, go easy on yourself! I’m sure a lot of meat replacement products aren’t perfect for your health, but lets be real, you aren’t going to eat salad all the time. Being a vegan does not mean you have to be perfectly healthy all the time. At the end of the day, its about the planet and the animals, not your physical appearance.

5.) Do not become vegan only for vanity. Guess what? I am a vegan and I eat really healthy 90%  of the time, but I still have days when I am tired, depressed, get a terrible breakout, feel fat etc. Go vegan to better yourself and the world, not because some weird natural health website said you will lose weight and have boundless energy! Overall, I notice TREMENDOUS benefits on a vegan diet. But it is also a learning experience, and if you start feeling worse instead of better, don’t give up on veganism, just admit that you moved way too fast, and identify what you could improve on in your vegan diet. I think a lot of people (myself included) go vegan without learning enough, and feel tired, hungry, and deprived. They then conclude that veganism isn’t for them and give up. I think this is partially because of the idea some vegans give off that once you are vegan you will be glowing, slim, and full of energy. You are ready to go vegan when you are so committed morally, that even if scientists conducted studies (that were not funded by meat and dairy industries) discovered that vegans are actually less healthy than meat eaters, you would still choose to be vegan, because you want to live a life of non violence more than you want that extra little bit of good health. Luckily however, being vegan is better for you. If you see studies saying it isn’t, I would take a look at who is funding those studies and what control groups they used. My point is, life is life, some days will be great, some will be terrible, and sometimes you might be bounding with energy. Don’t go vegan and suddenly blame every little flaw on the fact that you are now vegan.

6.) Transition as slowly as you want to into a vegan diet. In fact, on my second attempt, i even found it necessary to reign myself in and go more slowly. First I just gave up beef for a month or so. In that month I found it effortless to also cut out chicken. Then I was just pescatarian for awhile, then vegetarian, and then mostly vegan but I wouldn’t stress about things like sauces containing non vegan things. Even now that I am fully vegan, I am sometimes shocked to find out certain things are not vegan. For example, some crackers contain milk. When these kinds of mistakes happen, I don’t beat myself up over it, I just find a new brand of crackers I like and move on.

7.) Be easy on yourself! A lot of people find this really hard. They get mad at themselves for craving non vegan things they used to enjoy. When you are gentle with yourself from the get go you don’t have these feelings. You are not a bad person for craving foods you have ate your entire life! Just tell yourself you need to find a vegan way to satisfy this craving. People also tend to view their cravings for meat as signs that they obviously are meant to be eating meat. This is so far from the truth though. Craving some roasted garlic chicken does not mean your body is literally telling you it needs to go eat a piece of a bird. You want the comfort, the garlic, the olive oil, rosemary, thyme, etc. What if instead you made a bunch of delicious, crispy, oven roasted, potatoes, drizzled with olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and roasted garlic cloves? You’ll start to realize over time that your cravings are really not very specific. A lot of people think its hard to give up cheese, but really all your body wanted was the salt and fat anyways. There are many other ways to indulge that craving. For example, Daiya Foods offers delicious cheese replacement products. I love their pizzas for a quick and easy meal!

11.) Ignore crazy instagram and tumblr vegans. Here is how to spot them:

They post crazy SMORGASBORDS of exotic fruits year round that look like they were put together by a catering team of at least 5 people.

I feel like they are always posing with more fruit than I even have in my fridge right after I’ve gone grocery shopping. And they look weirdly ecstatic about fruit even though it seems like these mass amounts of fruit are just a part of their daily life. Like yes I love fruit and veggies more than anyone I know, but i am not going to be holding up stalks of broccoli as if they are my ears and grinning like an idiot as if I think this was ingenious and hilarious of me (I actually saw this once) . Sometimes these people just make vegans look completely crazy and vastly wealthy to have all this exotic fruit. They also seem to constantly go to restaurants  and take instagram photos and it seems like based on the amounts of drinks it is them and one other person, yet they have 6 plates of food. I am a thin vegan person and I am not eating multiple plates of food at every meal. I don’t even want to eat multiple plates of food at every meal because I am satisfied by my diet. I do probably eat more quantity of food than a meat eater of my gender and size because vegan food tends to contain less calories. Overall, there are many great vegan instagram accounts and tumblr pages out there and they usually provide tons of helpful meal ideas and inspiration for a vegan diet! But just be wary if all they are doing is promoting products and posing with mass amounts of exotic fruit because it isn’t a representation of a normal vegan life. I feel like in my first (failed) attempt at going vegan, I had mainly seen a lot of vegan social media accounts that provided a really unrealistic idea of what it means to be a vegan and I don’t want other people to make the same mistakes I made.

18.) There are so many awesome vegan protein powders out there! Its awesome to be able to just throw together a smoothie on a day when I don’t feel like cooking. Personally, I love Vega One protein powder! It has so many great nutrients added and it tastes delicious. I try to have a protein shake at least every other day just as an insurance policy that I am getting all my nutrients in,

19.) Get enough B12 by taking a supplement. Don’t assume that fortified foods will provide enough B12, especially when you are new to veganism. Your body does not necessarily absorb everything perfectly. Take a B12 supplement and then get your B12 levels tested after awhile to see how you are doing.

19.) Hemp seeds are a fantastic thing to have on hand! Packed with protein and healthy fats, they can be put in pretty much anything. Sprinkled on salads, in cereal, smoothies, etc. I used to have 2 boiled eggs for breakfast most days with a bunch of greens, and now i often have a salad with lots of hemp seeds (as much protein as boiled eggs), some fruit, and a good dressing for morning. I find this to be a really refreshing and delicious breakfast.

22.) If you don’t know how to use herbs and spices, learn! They benefit your cooking so much. I actually don’t know how anyone could make satisfying vegan dishes at home without spices and herbs!  Think of how gross chicken or beef would taste without seasoning. Terrible! Yet a lot of people don’t think to dress up their vegetables, tofu, rice, etc. and wonder why it tastes so plain.

23.) Pay attention to umami. It is a taste receptor that is separate from salty. It is often described as a meaty taste because it is present in a lot of meat, but it is also easy to find in a vegan diet. Vegan sources include mushrooms, nutritional yeast, avocados, sun dried tomatoes, olives, sauerkraut, seaweed, and many herbs and spices.

25.) Get your iron levels tested, especially if you are a female of child bearing age. This was my major mistake in my first attempt at veganism. I paid no attention to iron intake. I was already low on iron as a meat eater and never ate any sort of legumes. I also was eating too few calories and not enough healthy fruits and vegetables. Once becoming an unhealthy, nutrient deprived vegan for a few months I became practically anemic. This was not because of veganism, this was because I took meat and dairy out of my diet and didn’t add in new sources of iron.  So really I just had way too few calories. Now I take an iron supplement daily and make sure to eat lots of iron rich foods and maintaining healthy iron levels has been easy.

27.) Not getting enough protein as a vegan is only an issue when you are not getting enough calories to maintain a healthy weight for yourself. Meat is not the only source of protein. Lentils, chickpeas, tofu, tempeh, and even many vegetables like broccoli contain lots of protein. If you eat a wide variety of vegan foods, you really don’t need to stress too much about your protein intake.

I hope these tips were helpful! If anyone would like to add any of their favourite tips, please share them in the comment section!