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!